May 18, 2007
AOL/Third Screen, Microsoft/aQuantive, and Nielsen Commercial Ratings

Some interesting news has arisen from various sectors of the media industry this week regarding measurement systems and advertising models, including AOL's purchase of Third Screen Media, the Microsoft purchase of aQuantivem and changes in the commercial ratings system from Nielsen.

As AOL moves forward in expanding its presence as an online video provider, with a variety of channels and content, the company has also looked toward the mobile market for expanding its reach. Via Daisy Whitney at TelevisionWeek, I read that AOL purchased Third Screen Media on Tuesday.

Third Screen Media is a company which acts as the intermediary for placing ads on mobile platforms, working in the space in the middle of content providers, service providers, and advertisers, in a booming mobile market.

The company will be a subsidiary of AOL's online advertising division. Whitney writes that the deal "underscores AOL's bet on the growth potential for advertising on mobile phones."

See this post from back in February regarding Third Screen Media.

Meanwhile, news has also broken that Microsoft has bought online ad agency aQuantive in a deal that Josee Rose of The Wall Street Journal reports as being worth approximately $6 billion.

aQuantive includes Avenue A/Razorfish. The purchase would be 85 percent more than the closing price of aQuantive's stock last Thursday. Today's press release emphasizes that the acquisition "enables Microsoft to strengthen relationships with advertisers agencies and publishers by enhancing the Company's world-class advertising platforms and services beyond its current capabilities to serve MSN" as well as advertising solutions for "cross media planning, video-on-demand, and IPTV."

The company will become part of Microsoft's Online Services Business.

Finally, Nielsen is gearing up for its first release of average commercial minutes ratings, known as MIT (hey...that's our brand!), with the first average commercial minute data set to be released at the end of this month, based on the week of 30 April 2007.

The company is making a variety of changes in a continued effort to deal with the variety of problems raised by various groups in the industry. Among those changes, in addition to making individual commercial minutes ratings data available, is a system to identify local cable commercials and removing them from the average.

The company is also creating ways to differentiate in regional feeds of sporting events, measuring various syndicated programs individually in relation to where commercials appear within these episodes, and doubling the monitoring of cable network feeds in case a monitoring site goes down, including both east and west feeds.

Streams will eventually include live, live and same day, live and one day, live and two days, live and three days, and live and seven days.

The MIT will include any minute including at least a second of commercial ratings and will then "weight-average" them depending on the number of national commercial seconds contained in a show. These national ads will not include local commercials or PSAs and promotions but wuill include "direct response ads."

For more on commercial ratings, see this post from back in January.