Real Media Riffs - Monday, December 8 2003

AS LONG AS IT ALL ADDS UP IN THE END - The Riff has heard a lot of rationalizations about the accuracy of ad spending predictions over the years, but we were especially tickled Monday morning when Universal McCann's Bob Coen attempted to put a positive spin on missing the national and local ad spending marks for 2003. With a surprising upsurge in national TV ad spending, Coen conceded, "We underestimated national advertising growth by a full percentage point." The "good news," he continued, was that Universal also underestimated 2003 local ad spending by a corresponding amount, making the agency's overall ad growth total or 2003 pretty accurate. "It proves that diversity is the thing to do."

A SECOND DOT-COMING? NOT QUITE, BUT ALMOST - Among the other good pieces of news in Coen's 2004 ad outlook was a rebound in dot-com ad spending that he's uncovered. The sector, a hodgepodge of retail and other online marketers, spent an estimated $2.2 billion advertising across all media in 2003. That's the first uptick since the category started waning after its peak year in 2000, when total dot-com ad spending tallied $5.597 billion.



THE BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSE -- Leave it to CBS ratings spin-meister-in- chief Dave Poltrack to turn the table on the whole young adult male viewing debacle. As much of the world continues to debate the causes and impact of the decline in young male viewing, Poltrack is shifting the focus to another issue: out-of-home measurement. The problem, said Poltrack during his annual rant during the opening day session of the UBS Media Week conference in New York, isn't that young men aren't watching TV. The problem is that they're likely to watching it in places not regularly - if ever - measured by Nielsen Media Research. That means college dorms, vacation homes, bars, clubs, friends homes and anywhere else the highly mobile demo finds itself in front of a tube. Because Nielsen does not currently track the viewing they do outside their homes, Poltrack said Nielsen's current system handicaps reported viewing of the demo. The solution, he said may come from Nielsen's new "extended measurement service," which will measure viewing of people in college dorms and vacation homes. Nielsen has already begun installing meters in nine college dorms and will include a total of 50 in this new panel, which is being sponsored by six clients, including the four major broadcast networks. Why is this a good offense? Because Poltrack is seizing on the industry's debate over potential flaws in Nielsen's in-home measurement system to pave the way of acceptance of an out-of-home measurement system. That's something that Madison Avenue would like to know about, but wouldn't necessarily want factored as an official part of the TV advertising currency.

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