Pod Nod: Magna Calls On Nielsen To Measure Commercial Breaks

Commercial pods--not an average of all commercial minutes in a program--are what Nielsen should be measuring starting next year as a new TV currency, according Magna Global.

The big media agency has called on Nielsen to start measuring commercial pods in time for the 2009-2010 upfront buying season.

Right now, Nielsen measures minute-by-minute and then takes all the commercial minutes within a program and averages them to give a commercial rating. Nielsen then computes in three days of DVR playback of that program as well.

Magna says that's not good enough--more granular measurement is needed, and that comes in measuring individual commercial pods. Anywhere from five or six in an hour program and three or four in a half-hour show.

Magna says measuring commercial pods isn't perfect--but that "it will be closer to the actual commercial rating than an average of all commercial minutes throughout a program."

For instance, Magna says there will still be some of those minutes--counted as commercial minutes--that have some program content in those specific minutes. The report was written by Steve Sternberg, executive vice president of audience analysis for Magna Global.



Some agencies believe exact-minute ratings would be a better bet. But for now, Magna disagrees. The agency doesn't believe they are stable enough yet, and that this is particularly true for low-rated networks and programs.

Says Sternberg: "Clearly, individual minutes are not trendable or projectable from one telecast of the program to the next."

Nielsen could solve some of these problems, he says, if it measured TV in 30-second increments. Magna says if Nielsen could do this, it would identify and separate those minutes that have a mix of program and commercial time. These minutes typically begin and end each pod.

In turn, that would lower the amount of reported fast-forwarding. Magna says there could be as much as 30% overstatement of fast-forwarding commercial time.

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