Nielsen Research Proves Less Than Engaging, Only A Third Of Viewers Recall TV Spots

Consumer engagement is still one of the hot buzz concepts on Madison Avenue, but if the preliminary results of new Nielsen research on the subject are any indication, the conclusion may be, well, less than engaging. Of the nearly 1,000 consumers Nielsen has interviewed to date, only a third could recall any TV commercials they had seen, Nielsen said in an update sent to clients on Tuesday. And it's not just advertising that TV viewers apparently have trouble remembering. Amazingly, 21% of TV viewers could not correctly recall at least one TV program they had viewed.

The findings, which come from Nielsen's so-called engagement panel--a panel of 1,000 "retired" people meter households that have agreed to participate in the engagement research--are based on 918 telephone interviews Nielsen had completed through July 20. Nielsen said it plans to have preliminary results of the full panel available by the end of this month, but the initial data does not seem encouraging, since two-thirds of TV viewers could not recall even one TV commercial. Moreover, among those who said they could recall a TV spot, Nielsen still needs to verify the accuracy of their recollections by comparing it with data from its Monitor-Plus TV commercial tracking system.

Among those who said they could recall a spot, the average commercial "recaller" claimed to remember 2.21 commercials.

Nielsen was more confident of the veracity of its preliminary findings on program recall. The 79% of viewers who could correctly recall at least one TV program were matched to data from the people meters Nielsen still has installed in those households. The average program "recaller" recollected 1.95 programs, Nielsen said.

The findings were released as part of a regular client update on Nielsen's so-called A2/M2 initiative from Nielsen chief Susan Whiting. As part of the update, Whiting said Nielsen also is making progress with its "mailable" TV meters, its out-of-home measurement, its "solo" meters for personal video devices, and with its Internet/TV integration panel.

"As part of our Internet integration initiative, we have concluded our focus groups and computerized individual surveys at our research facility in Las Vegas to determine participants' comfort levels with monitoring their Internet activities," Whiting writes in the client update. "The results, which are still being analyzed, will help us clarify whether people will take part in such measurements; under what conditions; and what would discourage them from doing so."

Whiting added that Nielsen is investigating whether consumers would be more willing to cooperate with its Internet and TV convergence panels if Nielsen agreed to "limit monitoring to certain sites." Previous Nielsen research indicated that one of the biggest obstacles confronting such convergence research is consumer concern over the privacy of their Internet behavior.

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