Today, Nielsen officially releases its commercial ratings.
The sellers of ad space, the networks, will spin the ratings as proof that viewers watch commercials. The buyers of ad space, the media agencies, will spin the ratings as proof they don't.
In that sense, nothing has changed.
But in another sense, everything has changed. The simple acknowledgment that program ratings are no longer the end all and be all is proof that more precise measurement data is indeed the future.
In fact, commercial ratings aren't the end, but only the beginning to increased granularity when it comes to metrics. Second-by-second data, now available on many digital platforms, is already being talked about as the next step.
Granted, there are those who claim otherwise, that second-by-second data is just plain overkill. "Who really cares?", they chirp.
Well, the advertiser, for one.
Simply because today, the average thirty-second commercial costs $380,000 to produce. That breaks down to $12,666 per second.
Not surprisingly, advertisers are interested to know if their $12,666 was as well spent on second 23 as it was on second 3. Second-by-second data tells them this.
It also raises an interesting question.
If viewers aren't watching second 23, should advertisers be required to pay full fare for that second?
This isn't a media question, by the way. The best media can do is enable as many people to see the message as want to see the message.
That's media's job, enabling, not engaging.
Whether viewers become engaged and stay engaged in the message or not, is strictly a creative issue.
Second-by-second data will enable the responsibility of engagement to fall on the rightful shoulders. Those shoulders reside in creative agencies.
Good agencies will carry this responsibility with aplomb.
Not so good agencies will crumble under its weight.
Pandora is indeed out of her box.
Only the creative will survive.