Commercial Ratings Launch—With a Glitch

NEW YORK The first three months worth of results from Nielsen Media Research’s new commercial ratings system, launched last Thursday, are being labeled “evaluation” data in order to work out bugs and allow researchers, buyers and sellers to become familiar with the service, as opposed to actually buying and selling ads with it.

And it didn’t take long for the first glitch to appear, causing Nielsen Media Research, which, like Adweek, is a unit of the Nielsen Co., to re-issue the first week’s worth of commercial ratings data.

A Nielsen representative confirmed that the first electronic tape that went out to clients last Thursday, May 31, had errors in some of the ratings due to a “formatting glitch” related to data for one of the reported demographics (women 55 to 64). A new tape was re-issued midday Friday, and the rep said the issue was resolved.

Given the delay, agencies didn’t have a lot to react to last week. “I haven’t seen any of it yet,” said Lyle Schwartz, svp, director of research and marketplace analysis, WPP’s Mediaedge:cia.

But Schwartz also said many agencies and networks have been conducting independent analyses based on a separate set of data contained in Nielsen’s syndicated research tool called NPower. MEC has used that research to forge its upfront strategy.

The new commercial ratings “won’t change the way we approach the market,” he said, “but it will be useful going forward because it will make it easier to do certain analyses on client-specific schedules.”

Unlike the national program ratings, which Nielsen issues daily, the new commercial ratings, with six different streams of data (five of which report cumulative DVR playback for different parts of the week) will be issued weekly and delayed by about three weeks. In part, that’s because it takes that long for Nielsen’s ad tracking system, Monitor-Plus, to properly identify all the spots.

Meanwhile, some industry executives are concerned that internal systems at Nielsen client companies will have trouble processing all the new data.

The Cabletelevision Bureau of Advertising has convened an industry-wide meeting comprised of cable and broadcast networks, agencies and Nielsen executives to address those issues on June 11 in New York.