Nielsen To Make 'Live-Plus 3' The Standard For Local TV Advertising Buys

A top Nielsen executive Thursday told TV station executives that it has decided to make time-shifted ratings data the currency for the local TV advertising marketplace. The potentially controversial move, disclosed Thursday during a panel at the Television Bureau of Advertising's annual conference in New York, was made to put the local TV advertising marketplace on more of an even keel with the national TV marketplace, which as been utilizing time-shifted ratings as the basis of its trading currency since the 2007-08 television season. But unlike the national marketplace, which ties those time-shifted audiences to commercial minute ratings, the local TV ratings will continue to be based on program average ratings.

In both cases, the standard will be "live" viewing plus three days of playback from digital video recorders.

To date, Nielsen has been reporting both "live" only and "live" plus seven days of playback audiences in its local TV ratings. And while it's unclear which of those has been the standard for local TV advertising buys, some agency executives said "live" plus seven days of playback had quietly become the local TV advertising currency, much to the chagrin of some advertisers - especially time-sensitive retailers who depend on their ad messages being seen when they are originally broadcast.



"It's an improvement over live plus seven," Janice Finkel-Greene, executive vice president-director of futures and technology at Initiative North America, said following Nielsen's announcement that it was contemplating the change in January.

Finkel-Greene is among those who believe local and national spot advertisers would rather have live-only, commercial ratings because of the "needs in retail, time sensitive advertising." While Nielsen's local TV ratings meters theoretically could produce the same minute-by-minute data streams that are generated for its national commercial minute ratings, Nielsen has maintained commercial ratings are not yet feasible for local market television. Among other things, all but the largest TV markets still rely on paper diaries for at least some part of their ratings information, and the diaries are not considered a very reliable source of information on either viewing of commercials or on time-shifted playback. Agency executives said they will continue to push Nielsen to come up with some way of standardizing reporting between local TV's average quarter hour program ratings and national TV's average commercial minute ratings.

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