Some TV ratings are more equal than others

Julian Dobinson, Granada Media, shows why planners need to understand how individual breaks contribute to coverage build

Julian Dobinson

It is commonly accepted that not all rating points are equal in their value to advertisers. Agencies and advertisers put increasing pressure on broadcasters to deliver particular criteria: programmes, dayparts, centre breaks, position in break and so on. While the industry gives differential value to these, the only mechanism to put a value on aspects of airtime 'quality' has been that of demand. This paper outlines a new way of valuing airtime that measures one aspect of quality on a break-by-break basis and can be used to improve significantly the effectiveness of advertising.

Of course one rating on one channel represents the same number of viewers as one rating on another channel, but the advertising industry is not prepared to pay the same for ratings on different channels or at different times of day. The market does not value every rating equally because ratings are not the ultimate objective. Ratings are bought and sold but a key objective for advertisers is coverage. Advertisers need to reach as many potential purchasers as possible the required number of times to influence them to buy their product.