TiVo Helps Super Bowl Ad Ratings

NEW YORK Part of the appeal to marketers of plunking down close to $3 million for 30 seconds of ad time in the Super Bowl is the huge live audience that the game draws every year.

But a new analysis from Publicis Groupe’s Starcom using TiVo second-by-second ratings data shows that Super Bowl viewing may not be as live as conventional wisdom suggests.

According to the analysis, about one-third of TiVo households watched the 2007 Super Bowl game in time-shifted mode. Starcom also said that separate data from TNS Media Intelligence indicates that there may be greater falloff in viewing from programs to commercials than previously thought.

The good news for Super Bowl advertisers: a significant portion of the time shifting in last year’s game was the result of viewers rewinding to take another look at the ads. Six spots in the game received 25 percent or more viewing as a result of viewers replaying the ads, with most of the incremental viewing occurring within one hour of the live telecast.

A Chevrolet spot was the most replayed in the TiVo world, according to the Starcom analysis, receiving 31 percent additional viewing in playback mode. A Doritos ad was second with 30 percent incremental playback viewing. Two Bud Light spots placed third and fourth with 28 percent and 27 percent bonus rewind viewing, respectively. A Federal Express commercial also grabbed 27 percent additional viewing while a Nationwide Insurance ad grabbed 26 percent.

“Consumers are basically voting what the best ads are with their remote controls,” said Tracey Scheppach, svp, video innovations director at Starcom. Scheppach said she was “shocked” both at how much playback there was of both the Super Bowl and the commercials in it. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen a TiVo device help commercial ratings,” she said.

The TNS second-by-second data, based on a panel of 300,000 Charter Cable homes in Los Angeles, showed that 99 percent of the Super Bowl audience last year stayed with the game during the ads. By comparison, throughout the first quarter of 2007, the same TNS/Charter panel showed the average viewing falloff from programs to commercials was 11 percent, or about twice what the major networks say the average falloff is, based on analyses provided by Nielsen Media Research.

As a more precise second-by-second measurement, the TiVo and TNS data provide more accurate detail about viewer behavior than Nielsen’s average minute or minute-by-minute data, Scheppach said.

TNS today said it was forming a partnership with DirecTV to form a panel of 100,000 of the satellite carrier’s subscribers to generate second-by-second ratings. The industry needs to support set-top box data in order to glean more precise and stable TV viewing data in the digital age, Scheppach said. (Nielsen is also exploring the use of set-top box data).

“We’re seeing a march toward the digital power of TV,” she said. “There are 50 million set-top boxes that can report this kind of viewing behavior at a potentially census level. It’s more accountable and it should morph what we use as a currency because it is unacceptable to use a 14,000 sample [as the Nielsen Television Index does] to tell us how to spend $70 billion” on TV ads.

A TV trading currency based on set-top box data will help the TV industry retain the current level of ad spending, said Scheppach. Without it, she said, clients are likely to shift more dollars to the Internet. “TV is basically going off its gut. The Internet is more accountable,” she said.

Adweek is a unit of the Nielsen Co.