Even though Nielsen Media Research has made so-called L3 ratings available to media buyers since last summer for Local People Meter markets, virtually all media buyers have given local TV media seller the cold-shoulder. L3 ratings are about program ratings -- not commercial ratings. L3 are the live ratings plus three days of DVR program playback.
Now, just about six months into Nielsen's L3 ratings service, media buyers' reluctance shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Long before media buyers were rejecting L3, they were rejecting L7 ratings - live ratings plus seven days of DVR program ratings - since that data was made available in 2006.
The reason was the same: It was all about program ratings.
It hasn't been easy for the Television Bureau of Advertising, the main TV advertising trade organization for TV stations -- having to back L3 ratings. L3 ratings aren't close to what national media buyers and sellers have had for two years - C3 ratings, live ratings plus three days of DVR commercial playback.
Local TV advertising sales executives have already been hit with a 6% drop in local advertising revenue in 2008 -- a year of major political campaigns and Olympics, which would previously have given TV station sales reps double-digit percentage revenue increases.
And as we all know, there is almost a lock on more bad news to come in future, when many are predicting that in the full throes of a recession -- without those political and Olympics advertising dollars -- stations may witness crushing double-digit percentage decreases in revenue from 2008.
National TV sellers - in one of the biggest TV advertising magical tricks so far -- still haven't felt the effects of an advertising slowdown. The good news: At least those TV buyers and sellers have commercial ratings -- something that isn't perfect, but at least appeases TV marketers and their media agencies, as well as networks in getting credit for DVR playback.
Where does this leave those local TV marketers in buying local TV in 2009? With squinting eyes, examining media plans.