TV Spots Need a Ratings System – True Ten Years Ago & Today!

March 12, 2014

By Bill Duggan, Group EVP, ANA

Ten years ago – on March 15, 2004 – Advertising Age published an editorial titled, “TV spots need a ratings system.” That editorial said:

  • “Eight-five percent of marketers are interested in commercial ratings for TV audience measurement, according to a survey released by the Association of National Advertisers.”
  • “The market needs a ratings system—from Nielsen, from someone—that accurately measures what matters.”
  • “Advertisers will know who’s watching ads and shows; agencies will need to create spots that measure up; networks will be able to demonstrate value … TV will be accountable and those who produce results will thrive.”

ANA has been speaking out on this issue for a decade now. Companies including Kantar Media, Rentrak, and TRA have introduced products that provide commercial ratings. But there is still so much more to do, and we continue to wait for Nielsen to deliver an appropriate solution. Nielsen’s C3 was progress – but that provides ratings for the average of all the commercials within a program and not ratings for individual commercials. Why settle for “averages” when you can have “specifics?”

Ratings for individual commercials would provide more granular data to help marketers make better decisions.

  • Better creative decisions, i.e., to identify weak/strong spots in a pool, and also to be a barometer of commercial wearout.
  • Better media decisions, i.e., to indicate which networks, dayparts, or programs work best for a brand and also to optimize the mix of 30s and 15s.

Many things have indeed changed in our industry over the past ten years. There is a greater focus on data and ROI. Procurement is closely examining all costs. Marketing expenditures now must be even more accountable. It seems to me that the potential value of commercial ratings is greater now than ever been before. ANA encourages the industry – particularly the research and media companies – to heed the ongoing and persistent requests from marketers and deliver brand-specific commercial ratings.

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