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Kai Ryssdal: You've seen them at gas stations and at the gym probably. Maybe even in the elevators at work. Small television screens showing news and weather, and more often than not, a whole lot of ads. But really, how many people do you suppose are actually paying attention to those things? Nielsen, the company behind the television rating system, well, they know. They released their first report for those little screens today.

Marketplace's Caitlan Carroll reports.


CAITLAN CARROLL: Advertisers want your attention. And these days they're willing to follow you just about anywhere to get it.

TERRIE BRENNAN: So they're looking for, you know, where's the best screen to reach my consumer?

Terrie Brennan is vice president of New Business Development for Nielsen.

Nielsen tracked the impact of ads you see when you leave the house. But how does the company know when someone running on the treadmill is actually paying attention to what's on the screen in front of her?

BRENNAN: We actually measured the proximity to the machines and that they were actually on the machine and watched the content. And then we asked them to recall what it was that they watched and what they remembered.

Turns out those ads you see when you're exercising sink in.

BOB MARTIN: This report shows that what a quarter billion impressions are generated every month.

Bob Martin is chief marketing officer at RMG Networks. It's one of the 10 networks, including Gas Station TV and the Hotel Networks, that Nielsen included in this report. Martin says the new measurements could help his network sell more ads.

MARTIN: That is absolutely the hope. That is absolutely the expectation.

Brad Adgate is senior vice president of Research at Horizon Media.

BRAD ADGATE: I think also what's very appealing about out-of-home video is that it's closer to where you're going to purchase a product or make brand decisions.

Adgate says ad sales on small screens are still a tiny fraction compared to television. But with these new measurements, companies will be more likely to seek people out when they're off the sofa.

I'm Caitlan Carroll for Marketplace.

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