The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, February 06, 2004

Why are there no Nielsen ratings for political TV spots?

Since for ever, pockets of the media have been banging on about the cash the various campaigns have raised, and the ads they spent it on.

In real life, no company undertakes an advertising campaign without a knowledge of the audience it will likely be selling to. And, in analysing the success of a campaign, the first thing one needs is detail of the audience who actually watched.

Apparently, we do not have that information for the TV spots paid for by political campaigns - not, at least, according to William Powers in the National Journal (February 6 - check archives):
There's no Nielsen system for tracking the day-to-day media performance of candidates, no reliable way of knowing how each of them is registering at any given moment in the brains and emotions of the voting 100 million. The closest approximation is the polls, and we know how reliable those are.

Now, presumably, the campaigns all buy the Nielsens to cover the programmes in which the spots are placed. So I'm not entirely sure what extra Powers is looking for.

(Does, say, WaPo buy a full set of Nielsens? How much does that go for, per month? Because, as Powers has brought it up, I can't remember seeing any analysis of TV ratings in, for example, the Dean Iowa coverage, where he was spending money like water on TV - fancy orange jackets aside, his biggest budget line. The papers could at least have bought the Nielsens for Iowa for a coupla months...)

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