A better statistic for the CW isn't whether all its commercials were seen in their entirety, but whether viewers made it until the end of the episode. Were they happy Internet users of "Gossip Girl" and those advertising messages -- or just plain vanilla users?
CW took the industry to another level before last year's upfront market -- announcing it was matching online commercial loads with that of traditional TV airings, and then selling this to marketers.
The big issue, of course, is engagement -- and some other research as yet unknown. Maybe CW viewers have been shrugging their shoulders, saying "It's marketing" or "Everyone's got to make a buck" or "It's old-school, but I still get to see 'Gossip Girl' with my friends in Starbucks."
TV marketers have been ecstatic about the promise that CW may have found the silver bullet for adding back lost TV viewers. Media agency executives could then have an easier time explaining themselves to clients: "We took care of the TV network erosion you have been seeing over the last couple of years. We've found a way to get back some of those eyeballs."
But nothing is that simple. A big question for CW is what happens next upfront. Will this 95% completion rate be proven enough of a success so the network can start charging big increases -- and perhaps less for other areas?
Running a full load of commercials seems to dilute high Internet CPM pricing somewhat, as well as taking away the "user experience." On the other hand, the CW can say to marketers their messages won't be missed -- not like on current TV screens where 40% of TV homes have DVRs.
If those online viewers really didn't have a choice when it came to those messages, still some of the traditional problems of commercial avoidance remain.
What are CW viewers really doing? Multitasking, I'm guessing. While the commercial plays online, there's stuff to be done: texting, talking, iTuning, or maybe -- shockingly -- some old-school channel surfing via a traditional TV set.