CBS: Commercial Ratings, DVRs Are Good For Advertisers

PASADENA, CALIF. -- CBS's Chief Research Officer David Poltrack says the coming of commercial ratings as well as the growth of DVRs will only help advertisers and their messaging.

"It will give more--not less--commercial audience for advertisers," says Poltrack, who is also president of CBS Vision, a research unit that explores new technologies and consumer media habits. "The bottom line is that it's an enhancement of TV for the advertiser."

This is based on research indicating there is significantly more TV viewing with DVRs--which in turn means somewhat more viewing for advertisers' commercials.

The coming of commercial ratings will only support this, say TV executives--noting that while there is DVR fast-forwarding of commercials, advertisers' messages are being seen and heard. New "program engagement" research will also offer up deeper data for advertisers to use when placing traditional TV commercials, says Poltrack.

For decades, advertisers have bought commercial time based on average program ratings. This November, Nielsen Media Research will begin offering commercial ratings. But Poltrack says the raw data for commercial ratings has been available for years to both advertisers and network ad sellers.



For the average network show, commercial ratings are 5 percent less than program ratings. For cable networks, commercial ratings are 10 percent below program ratings. There is virtually no change in commercial ratings--only 1 percent below program ratings--when it comes to evening news and daytime shows. The worst offenders are late-night TV shows, where there is a 9 percent drop in commercial ratings.

Overall, these numbers should not force either media buyers or sellers to make drastic changes in media negotiations, since commercial data has been available for years. "It's already built in when it comes to evaluating [media buys]," says Poltrack.

Additional DVR research shows that 80 percent of all DVR playback takes place within two days, and 66 percent of playback takes place within the same day. "Most playback takes place in a time frame that is comfortable for advertisers," said Poltrack.

What about fast forwarding? Research shows that "viewers substantially overstate fast forwarding." Why is that? Few viewers would admit that they watch commercials. Research has indicated a better number might be in the 40 percent range.

There is better news for advertisers concerning DVRs: Ninety-seven percent of DVR users remember the advertiser when they fast forward through a commercial. That's because they "have to pay attention" to stop fast forwarding to return to normal speed to watch the program. Of that group, 54 percent who are fast-forwarding actually stop to watch a commercial in normal speed.

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