Yesterday, I wrote about a discussion from the 2007 TV Upfront Summit in New York this past week, sponsored by Advertising Age and TelevisionWeek.
Today, I wanted to elaborate on another interesting round of discussions that came from that conference, specifically centering on a conversation of audience engagement, commercial ratings, and the Nielsens.
Measurement has been the major question on people's minds over the past few years, both in how accurate current measurements are and the accuracy of what is being measured. WIth the Nielsen ratings sample being considered by many as an inevitably flawed number, yet a number the industry remains reliant upon for the whole economic structure of both broadcast and cable television, questions have swirled around both ways Nielsen can better measure viewership and also around potential alternatives.
Further, others are questioning the use of measuring whether someone has their television set on or not in the first place and whether there are better ways to measure engagement that take a more qualitative look at valuing the kinds of programs that keep people more involved, favoring serialized television in its various formats, among other programming types.
AdAge's Andrew Hampp provides a summary of the major arguments from the meeting, pointing out that many are questioning exactly how commercial ratings will be used in this year's up-fronts, how the Google/Echostar deal with second-by-second commercial measurement will impact future directions of viewer measurement, and the role of engagement.
From the article, I learned that Nielsen plans to increase its national sample "from 9,700 homes to 12,500 over the next few years." Considering the proliferation of choices available and the fact that there are shows averaging a 0.0 in the ratings, there is a strong need for something that gives some more accurate ratings reflection as to what these numbers mean in the era of niche target marketing.
The article points to a keynote from Home Depot Chief Marketing Officer Roger Adams who described the company's recent brand integration on the show Girlfriends on the CW, where the store played a role in the plot. He said, "For us, that is engagement. For others it should be commercial ratings. When we're on engaging programs, our advertising performers better than in a less engaging format."
I was with him on that part, but the problem comes in "engagement guarantees," and precisely what could be meant by that phrase. I assume Mr. Adams meant some research that shows the particular program has a high degree of engagement with its viewers, but there is always some danger in the process of quantifying qualitative engagement.