Thursday, May 24, 2007

Nielsen to Begin Ratings for Ads

Later this month Nielsen plans to release viewership data for advertising spots. Advertisers are concerned and not just that people are using DVRs and fast-forwarding through commercials, but that they are getting up during the ads and not watching them. We've always done that of course, but the concern is we're doing it a lot more lately.

The article references tactics that advertisers are toying with to win back viewers to ads.

I have a simple plan: somehow turn every commercial into some kind of lottery. The prizes don't need to be that big if you're keeping millions of extra eyeballs tuned in. The problem is that you'd have to be creative in integrating the lottery into the ads, otherwise nobody is paying any attention to the product being advertised.

I've been watching a lot more TV than normal this year. I've even done something I almost never do: watch live broadcast TV for things other than sports. I watched the last few episodes of Heroes live, without any timeshifting on the big screen, in high definition. Everything looked great and even many of the commercials were in HD.

But the commercial breaks are simply too long.

During this year's finale of Grey's Anatomy, in addition to the actual show not being that good, the commercial breaks were unterminably long. So long that even though I was watching the recording of it off my DVR and was pressing down the 30 second skip button, I was having to press it more times than I'd ever had to in my life

There were commercial breaks that were nearly 5 minutes in length. In 5 minutes, I can get up, use the bathroom, wash my hands, get a drink of water, go send a couple of e-mails...

I understand the point with a successful show is to capture as much ad revenue as you can in the finale, but to that end, it was already an extended finale (it ran 1 hour in 20 minutes in real time, with commercials) extending spots themselves was just encouraging people to tune out.

Ultimately with the Nielsen data on ad viewership what I'd love to see is how many people watched the first ad of the break and at least part of the last ad, compared to the ads in the middle.

I think those advertising in the middle probably saw a significant drop off of viewers, while the last spot before the show came back on probably did very well. What I'd like to see from the Nielsen data is what the dropoffs are, by each spot running in the break. There's probably a bigger delta between the viewership of the middle spots and the last spot than there is between the pricing of those two spots.

Or I'm just plain wrong, but we'll know soon enough when the study is released.

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