pod position

Tune-In to Discover What is Making Audiences Tune-Out

Travis FloodExecutive Director of Insights, Comcast Advertising

Duane Varan, Ph.D.CEO, MediaScience

Travis Flood (Comcast Advertising) and Duane Varan (MediaScience) presented research, which explored improving ad pod architecture, aimed at better engaging audiences by understanding what makes them tune-out. To provide framework to their research process, Travis indicated they started with a literature review, to understand the existing viewer experience. Focus was placed on the quantity, quality and relevance of the ads, in addition to media effectiveness studies (e.g., pod architecture, ad creative, getting the right viewers, etc.). Duane indicated that the literature review unveiled gaps, particularly in the examination of the content within the middle section of an ad pod. Based on this, the goal of the subsequent research was to understand the optimal duration of ad pods to optimize both the viewer experience and brand impact, difference in impact (e.g., more ads vs. fewer ads in the same break duration) and the impact of frequency on viewers and brands. The research included 840 participants who watched a 30-minute program with structured ad breaks. Feedback was measured using a post-exposure survey, neurometrics and facial coding. Results revealed that shorter pod length, grouping consistency in ad length and capping frequency at two to three ads per program as most effective. Key takeaways:
  • Optimal pod length: Two minutes or less leads to better results. After viewing 2 minutes of ads, recall begins to decrease. Recall is 2x higher at 2 minutes vs. 3 minutes, and after 3 minutes, recall is at its lowest point.
  • Viewers are more engaged as ads begin. Using facial coding data showed that for a heavy clutter cell, there was marginally less joy in the first 5 seconds of the ad, indicating that ad load impacts how viewers experience ads.
  • Facial coding data revealed that ad clutter can diminish how funny scenes are for viewers.
  • Consistency is key in ad lengths within a pod. Viewer testing showed that when ads had different lengths in a pod, it made the ad break feel longer compared to pods with ads of the same length.
  • Ad frequency was optimized at two per program. There was significant boost in ad recognition and purchase intent going from 1 to 2 exposures in a program. Capping frequency at 2-3 per program can positively impact recognition and purchase intent.

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Making the Right Impression


Key Takeaways

Paul Donato – Chief Research Officer, ARF Pete Doe – Chief Research Officer, Nielsen Pete Doe brought some clarity to how Nielsen currently approaches linear TV measurement and how it will evolve throughout 2024 in this detailed presentation, describing Nielsen’s integration of big data with panel data in its national TV measurement, participation in auditing and accreditation, exploration in defining impressions and conversations with the industry about time requirements and duration weighting. Other topics discussed in the Q&A that followed covered definitions of calibration and campaign reach measurement, panel adjustments for STB/ACR data, personalization and the differentiation between 30-second ads, 15-second ads and 60-second ads in terms of equivalization and measured impressions. These are selected excerpts from the session’s presentation and Q&A:
  • While big datasets are necessary to capture the fragmentation in the market, panel measurement—with its details on the persons viewing and devices being used—is essential to create a holistic view of audiences. Nielsen’s philosophy does not prioritize one over the other; instead, each informs the other.
  • After listening to industry publishers, agencies and clients, Pete assured the audience that Nielsen will still be offering C3 and C7 metrics in addition to new offerings of individual commercial metrics as of September 24th, 2024. He outlined a three-step process in Nielsen’s overall approach to its big data solution, starting with providing one year of impact national STB (set-top box) data that will then be audited by the MRC and submitted for accreditation. Pete noted that some clients were open to using non-accredited data in the interim, with buyers and sellers agreeing to available data that enables transactions.
  • Nielsen’s currency roadmap for 2024 begins with the currently available data streams that include both panel-only C3 and big data. They are planning to extend their national big data to include Comcast’s STB data calculated from sub-minute crediting in January and fully release their new currency combination of panel and big data, produced to C3 and C7 standards, in September, subject to auditing and accreditation processes. Pete also provided details on Nielsen’s approach to local TV measurement by introducing a calibration methodology, along with top line national demo findings in age groups and increases in Hispanic and Black audiences from Q1 2023.
  • Pete addressed the importance of having a consistent definition of an impression and how Nielsen worked to achieve more granularity in measurement with the sub-minute level of data. Referencing the MRC’s cross-media measurement standard and the continued debate around time requirements (at least two consecutive seconds) and duration weighting, he said Nielsen found no complete consensus from different sides of the industry, although there seems to be more support for two continuous seconds without duration weighting. Nielsen’s exploration in defining impressions assumed that equivalization as a kind of duration weighting will be assessed as deals are made.
  • Nielsen compared the impact of 1s, 2s and 5s using their sub-minute panel plus big data measurement against panel data and the average commercial minute, and, when adding duration weighting, found significant differences in impressions across varying age groups, households and day parts.
  • In terms of deals, one of the benefits of moving from the average commercial minute in a program to individual commercial metrics is the ability to look at the position in the commercial pod. In an example from a daytime broadcast show, Pete illustrated how first-in-pod ads typically deliver a higher audience than the rest of the ads in the pod, finding 99 percent of ads in the first pod indexed higher with 18 percent higher impressions than the average across 160 placements.
  • Nielsen’s national measurement’s “big data” encompass 30-35 million homes including Comcast, DirecTV and DISH return-part-data (RPD) from STBs. Smart TV ACR data from Roku and Vizio adds to the 30-35 million total with some overlap. In local markets, Nielsen does not currently use smart TV data as local stations are not all measured or supplied in its numbers so they focus instead on RPD augmented with Charter data. Because of its deals with DirecTV and DISH, Nielsen has a presence in every market.
  • Nielsen has streaming meters in about 50% of the homes in its national panel currently and is focusing on building those numbers. It also has local CTV measurement capability.
  Nielsen’s key takeaways:
  • Panel+big data means higher audiences, better stability, fewer zero ratings.
  • Overall patterns of viewing are pretty consistent between panel and panel+big data.
  • Two-second qualifier increases available impressions, while duration weighting deflates them.
  • Individual commercial minute data enables pod position considerations in deals.

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Navigating the Evolving Media Landscape

  • OTT 2023

The media landscape continues to evolve, arguably at a faster rate than ever. Leading media and measurement experts presented research-based insights on how viewers use different forms of TV/video on various platforms. Attendees joined us at the Warner Bros. Discovery Studios in California and via livestream to understand the latest data and discussions of the data’s implications.

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An impressive body of work is building in attention measurement. The three winning-papers sessions preceding this panel revealed a work in progress with shared goals as well as differences in approaches. Moderator Earl Taylor of the ARF’s MSI division asked the speakers about their views on barriers to the process, and opportunities for further improving attention measures.

Does Every Second Count?

Kara Manatt (Magna) and Heather O’Shea (Snap) presented research that compared :06 second and :15 second ad lengths across three video platforms – Snap, video aggregators, and full episode players (FEPs) – to determine the optimum ad length for an effective ad strategy.


In testing the same :06 and :15 ads for the same four brands, the study factored in the characteristics of each platform – pre-roll/mid-roll, skippable and non-skippable, and device – as it tracked 7,500+ panelists’ viewing behaviors for brand awareness, brand perception, and purchase intent.