Ad Ratings Used As Currency Hit Bump

The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau has raised a number of concerns about the push for commercial minute ratings that could delay their use as the key currency for buying and selling ads beyond the 2007-08 season.

Chief among those concerns is that ad tracking service Nielsen Monitor-Plus hasn’t been accredited by the Media Rating Council, a process that can take three years to complete. The MRC is the industry audit service that evaluates ratings systems to make sure they comply with industry standards.

That hasn’t been a problem up to now because Monitor-Plus has not been a part of the ratings system that Nielsen uses for audience estimates. But with the switch to commercial ratings, Monitor-Plus would be used to identify on-air ad minutes.

CAB research vp Ira Sussman said that Monitor-Plus is not programmed to measure many cable networks and also does not have the ability to distinguish between local and national cable ads.

“Monitor-Plus was never designed to support a currency product,” said Tim Brooks, evp, research, Lifetime Networks. He said Nielsen must get the service accredited if it is to be used in the system to generate commercial ratings.

Some agency executives agreed. “If we are going to be doing negotiations based on this, then it has to be accredited,” said Susan Nathan, svp, director of media knowledge, Universal McCann.

Nielsen said it’s under consideration.

But David Poltrack, evp, research and chief research officer at CBS, countered that Monitor-Plus would not need to go through a full accreditation process and that only those parts of the service involved with commercial ratings creation would need MRC’s blessing. While the CAB raises valid concerns, he said he’s confident broadcast TV, working with Nielsen, can come up with an accredited commercial ratings system that could be used to buy and sell ads for the 2007-08 season.