The ratings company Nielsen–the company you can blame for bad stunt-casting and stupid plot devices during sweeps week–is going to start rolling in data from online viewings of commercials this fall, which means networks will start using online viewing stats to help sell ads this time next year. What this means: if a network uses the new Nielsen rating system, “shows seen online will have to have the same group of commercials that run on TV,” reports AdAge.
Nielsen told AdAge that this method of measuring commercials is only one of several solutions it plans to offer. However, the article notes that networks aren’t exactly happy with current revenue streams for online advertising and would probably welcome an expansion in ad slots. ABC has already tried something with “Grey’s Anatomy” where it offered “watch anytime” access to some Cox cable subscribers, but disabled fast-forwarding, and ABC says 93% of the test group were okay with that. Would that attitude, if it’s being accurately reported by ABC to begin with, transfer over to online viewers?
My philosophy is simple and has to do with asthetics as much as anything: if you can’t entertain me with a unique commercial that actually appeals to my interests, I’m going to find a way to avoid it. My current solution is to mute the ad and switch to another tab until it finishes playing, and to minimize my time on that site in the future. I’m looking at you, Hulu with your repetitious and dull PSAs.
But we need something better: a way for users to zap ads entirely from online video streams, by replacing them with a local weather graphic, or famous quotes, or mini-games I can play to pass the time. Anything but another “ask your doctor” pharma ad, please.