With the exception of Super Bowl Sunday, we tend to avoid or ignore commercials when we watch TV. Nevertheless, they do tend to reach us -- corporations wouldn't spend so much money on them if they didn't. But exactly how popular are commercials, anyway?
Nielsen Media Research aims to quantify the effect of TV spots on America's viewing public. The group plans to debut a new ratings service sometime in May that will figure out how many people actually watch the ads attached to their favorite programming. (The system was supposed to be out earlier, but got delayed.) The technology will also offer data regarding the use of digital video recorders; in this case, the idea is to expand statistics on shows that are being stored by viewers for access at more convenient times -- quantifying the "time-shifting" phenomenon.
The value of entertainment content will grow over time, but the value of certain platforms delivering that content might erode. Remember when broadcast networks such as CBS
Advertising is the lifeblood of broadcast content, but TiVo
It will be interesting to see how this new Nielsen system changes the TV landscape. Advertisers should gain an even better understanding of effective techniques, and they may reshuffle their ad dollars upon discovering that the same ad works better on, say, Heroes than it does on Ugly Betty. Meanwhile, commercial creators may be prompted to push the envelope to create wilder and more memorable spots. Will viewers get sick of such a scenario?
Whatever occurs, a better system to collect viewer data should eventually benefit advertisers and networks alike, helping everyone involved figure out the best way to distribute content and sell ads for it. Critics might cringe at the thought of ads competing more intensely than ever with one another, now that they, too, have ratings. Me? I'm looking forward to it.
Tune in to some more Takes:
- Dueling Fools: TiVo
- NBC Broadcasting Good Times
- Eye on CBS
- Nielsen also helps the video game industry.
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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of Disney and General Electric. As of this writing, he was ranked 3,100 out of 20,040 investors in the Motley Fool CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool's disclosure policy is always worth viewing.