Nets, Media Agencies Anticipate Ad Ratings

The broadcast networks and media agencies are eager to begin evaluating the commercial ratings data that Nielsen Media Research plans to supply on a daily basis beginning this November, with hopes that it could become the currency used to buy and sell advertising for the 2007-08 season.

“I believe it’s possible [to use commercial ratings in next year’s upfront],” said David Poltrack, CBS’ evp and chief research officer. “We know the advertisers want to use commercial ratings rather than program ratings. They’ve been telling us that for years.”

While all five nets have asked Nielsen to provide commercial ratings based on live-plus-seven-days of digital-video-recorder playback viewing, Jack Loftus, svp, communications for Nielsen, said the organization might initially provide commercial ratings for not only live-plus-7, but also for live-only and live-plus-same-day, and let the industry determine which data is best as a negotiating currency.

Poltrack said while the networks and media agencies have been at odds over which level of program ratings to use when negotiating in this year’s upfront, he said live-plus-7 ratings should be less controversial, since fast-forwarded commercials would be eliminated because there is no audio by which to measure them. “That should make it more amenable to advertisers, because only DVR playback in regular mode—where commercials are not fast-forwarded through—would be included,” he said.

Nielsen plans to supply one average rating of all the ad minutes within a show. Loftus said Nielsen may eventually be able to provide minute-by-minute commercial ratings in its daily offering, “but we are just not there yet.” Nielsen is owned by VNU, publisher of Adweek.

Lyle Schwartz, svp and director of research and marketplace analysis at Mediaedge:cia, called Nielsen’s decision a “positive step.” He added that offering it this November will give the industry time to evaluate the data’s usability in buying and selling negotiations.