The television ratings folks at Nielsen are going to start rating ads, or rather providing estimates for the number of people who don’t change the channel during commercial breaks (more). I’m not sure the information will be very helpful. I’ve been known to leave the room during commercial breaks, and quite often turn the volume off to avoid obnoxious ads such as Time Warner’s Beep Beep dot com. In both cases the TV is on but the ads make no impact.
Over in Radioland, Arbitron is working on getting their personal people meter system fully accredited. PPM technology should give advertisers the ability to see how many people change radio stations during those mind-numbing four and five-minute commercial breaks. That should be an eye opener. Once again hearing an ad and listening to it are two different things. PPM only measures hearing (sort of) and not whether anyone is listening.
In a perfect world all ad writers and producers would take the time to create great ads for thier local clients, ads that viewers and listeners would pay more attention too. In that case, we wouldn’t have to wonder about how many people tune out. Are you doing your part or are you helping advertisers flush their ad dollars down the drain?