Nielsen's New Year's Resolution: Find A Way To Measure TV Ads That Are Substituted Online

Nielsen Wednesday began offering clients a sneak preview of its so-called "extended screen" ratings, which will add online audience estimates to the ratings of TV shows that are also distributed over the Internet. Nielsen said the previews would begin the week of Jan. 3, 2011, and said the data would "broadly demonstrate the impact of online viewing" on TV programming.

The impact most likely will be a net positive one for TV programmers, adding incremental viewing from a new source of distribution, though it is not clear how the new multiplatform ratings will affect the underlying cost and value of TV to advertisers.

Toward that end, Nielsen reiterated plans to find a way of factoring in TV programs viewed online with different ads than the ones that were originally televised online. Nielsen indicated that it has not yet figured out how to do that, and that the initial phase of the new ratings would only include the audiences of TV programs served online with the "identical" commercials and promotions as the ones that aired on TV.

"We are investigating ways to provide the option to remove or insert digital ads over national promotions in a future release," said, adding, " We are also working on a separate solution for programmers that insert different commercials into the programs they make available online."

Nielsen said details about those alternate advertising and promotion estimate options would be disclosed at an undetermined date in 2011.

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