I came across this self-serving
blog post at Nielsen.com, thanks to those awesome guys at MarketingCharts.
The gist of the Nielsen post is this. People watch ads on TV.
People also watch ads when they watch full-length TV episodes online. Using
each of the four metrics deemed important by Nielsen, online TV ads performed
slightly better than regular TV ads. The four metrics are:
- General Recall
- Brand Recall
- Message Recall
The conclusion following these results is so delicious that
I just have to quote it in full:
“Data shows that web video viewers are more engaged and
attentive to the programs they are watching, which is likely a function of the
viewing environment and the oft-required active mouse-clicking to initiate nd [sic]
It’s not that I don’t agree with their findings. It’s more
that I have serious misgivings about how they got them and what they intend to
do with them.
“Data shows…”? Really? Which data? I’d like to see those
figures and how you got them. Given that Nielsen notoriously
extrapolates national TV viewing figures from a relatively
small number of homogenous
households, I am curious to hear more about their online video engagement
I’m also in love with the phrase “oft-required active mouse
clicking”. It’s like someone from the 1950s has come to watch how we do things
in the future. But then everything about Nielsen’s comparison of offline and
online ads is so far from current that it’s laughable.
Online advertising isn’t about “Message Recall”. “Likeability” is not an end in itself and should not be measured as such. The majority of online advertising is
about actions, not impressions and Nielsen, I’m afraid, has absolutely no way
of measuring that.
If you really want to compare TV ads and online ads, you need
to measure how many people made a purchase after seeing an ad – a metric that
TV networks have been rightly coy about exploring as the results could undermine
their entire business model; or at least undermine the high prices they charge, relative
to online advertisers.
But we should give Nielsen some credit. They bravely point
out that online ads are more effective that TV ads, even if the methodology
behind this realization is a little dodgy. The recommendation must therefore be
to lower spend on TV advertising and shift budget to online inventory, right?
“…the data suggests the benefits of utilizing both platforms
in tandem to achieve advertising objectives.”
Way to sit on the fence, Nielsen. It’s almost as if a large
part of your revenue comes from TV networks trying to prove to advertisers that
they should still be the primary supplier of ad space. Oh, wait, it does.
Check out this report which
shows a minority interest sports channel paying $7.5 million dollars a year to
Nielsen for the privilege of having its tiny viewing figures calculated, so that
it can claim it has viewing figures, so that it can charge more money to
advertisers for those figures. I shudder to think how much CNN or NBC must be paying.
If you’re a big advertiser debating where to focus your media buying for
the next few seasons, you might want to find a better informed and more impartial source of information than Nielsen.