Ratings, Convergence Cloud Ad Picture

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New York -- Nielsen Media Research, long the ad
industry's whipping boy for alleged shortcomings in audience measurement, fielded
more flak during the Association of National Advertisers' Television Advertising
Forum here last week

As moderator of the ANA's TV-ratings panel, David
Marans, senior vice president and media research director at J. Walter Thompson Co., urged
Nielsen to end sweeps-period ratings and to start local "PeopleMeters."

Susan Whiting, Nielsen's general manager of national
services and emerging markets, responded that pricing and other details from PeopleMeter
tests in "one or two" local markets are due this summer.

Although she questioned the wisdom of eliminating sweeps
ratings, Marans countered that doing so would end stunting battles that often pit one
"Big Four" TV network's miniseries against another's.

Gale Metzger, Statistical Research Inc.'s president,
offered no updates either on his talks with Andersen Worldwide (which began in March) to
become its strategic partner, or on the related status of national rollout plans for its
Systems for Measuring and Reporting Television (SMART), a potential Nielsen rival.

At one point, he said, "SMART came into existence to
help make things happen." Later, he cryptically observed, "SMART will be there
in one form or another."

In showcasing other topics, such as convergence, other ANA
speakers raised more questions than they answered.

Executives from WorldGate Communications Inc. and Wink
Communications Inc. talked up the interactive-ad potential in their convergence ventures.

Michael Gannon, Wink's vice president of ad sales,
cited opportunities not only in couponing and consumer purchases, but also in commercial

Gerard Kunkel, WorldGate's vice president of strategic
programs, said it's now offering Internet TV over cable in nine markets, with 30
expected by year's end.

Stephen Graham, AT&T Corp.'s vice president of
worldwide marketing communications, forecast that such applications could lead to cost per
thousand homes (CPMs) being replaced by cost per inquiry and other models based on
consumer purchases. And Whiting made a similar point.

Also yet to be worked out is convergence's impact on
advertisers' rates. For example, what do you do when commercials' screen space
shrinks or disappears as viewers interact with other spots in a multispot network

Gannon said Wink charges its interactive advertisers a fee
and pays MSOs a percentage of its ad sales. Kunkel, who observed that "everybody
wants to get a piece of that [interactive-ad] dollar," said WorldGate isn't
charging advertisers yet.

WorldGate is enjoying an 8 percent consumer "take
rate" from "cold telemarketing calls" and 20 percent to 26 percent take
rates when its service gets such marketing support as billstuffers, he said.