Another nail for the coffin

The folks at Starcom MediaVest Group are supporting a Nielsen plan that would provide minute-by-minute ratings for television. MediaDailyNews reports that the new system would fundamentally alter television advertising.

The new Nielsen service would provide average minute ratings, and may ultimately evolve into a system that provides ratings for 30-second units that could be used to measure the audience flow of both TV programming and commercial intervals. The data would be made available via respondent-level data tapes that would plug directly into the data systems used by SMG and others to process Nielsen ratings.

Currently, TV ratings are based on the mid-minute of every quarter hour. Nielsen currently allows customers to conduct similar analyses through its so-called N*Power system, but that system is considered slow, cumbersome and expensive to use and most agencies do not consider it a practical solution to analyzing TV commercial ratings.

The new system won’t be cheap either, and even with SMG’s support, Nielsen will still need the backing of at least two other big clients — either major ad agencies, or TV networks — to move forward on the service.

Don’t expect TV networks to jump on the bandwagon soon, because this would mean real problems for them. Presumably, the meters would show surfing during commercial breaks. If and when it does ever come about (and I believe it will), it will drive more ad dollars to the Internet, whose precision in delivering real eyeballs far exceeds that of television. This, folks, is one to watch.

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