Who to believe, advertisers or the networks?

Conflicting reports in the news today lead me back to my belief that research data coming out is only as good as research data going in, and that is often determined by what the researcher is trying to prove.

CBS executive vice president of planning and research David Poltrack told the UBS 33rd Annual Global Media Conference in New York yesterday that ad revenue growth will be in the 5% category next year, and that everything is just fine, thank you very much. He actually made the case that DVRs are good for broadcast networks!

Poltrack noted that cable penetration in U.S. households, on the rise for two decades, is slowing down, and that the phenomenon has combined with the emergence of a significant number of hit shows to help stabilize broadcast-network viewing levels.

“Two developments will help the networks in the next two years,” he said. “The addition of DVR homes to the Nielsen sample, and out-of-home viewing.”

Huh?

Meanwhile — and at the same conference — one of the world’s biggest media buyers predicted that advertisers would continue to pull money away from TV and into broadband video over the next 36 months.

Based on the numbers he is seeing from Carat’s clients, Verklin (David Verklin, CEO of Carat Americas) estimated that online now accounts for about 8 percent of their advertising budget, and given the current rate of increase, would grow to 15 percent “in about 36 months.”

“I think it is going to come from television, and I think a lot of it is going to move into online broadband,” he said, predicting that there would be a corresponding shift taking the average media plan from about “two-thirds television” to 50 percent.

So who do you believe? Here’s a hint: the advertisers are the ones with the money.

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