Ever get that sudden sinking feeling?

Media Daily News covering a new Nielsen consumer television viewer study:

Of the nearly 1,000 consumers Nielsen has interviewed to date, only a third could recall any TV commercials they had seen, Nielsen said in an update sent to clients on Tuesday. And it’s not just advertising that TV viewers apparently have trouble remembering. Amazingly, 21% of TV viewers could not correctly recall at least one TV program they had viewed.

The findings, which come from Nielsen’s so-called engagement panel — a panel of 1,000 “retired” People Meter households that have agreed to participate in the engagement research — are based on 918 telephone interviews Nielsen had completed through July 20…

[A]mong those who said they could recall a TV spot, Nielsen still needs to verify the accuracy of their recollections by comparing it with data from its Monitor-Plus TV commercial tracking system. [In other words, people may be remembering commercials they didn’t even see — a not uncommon phenomenon in consumer behavior.]

Among those who said they could recall a spot, the average commercial “recaller” claimed to remember 2.21 commercials.

Nielsen was more confident of the veracity of its preliminary findings on program recall. The 79% of viewers who could correctly recall at least one TV program were matched to data from the People Meters Nielsen still has installed in those households. The average program “recaller” recollected 1.95 programs, Nielsen said.

Then there’s this fun tidbit:

…Nielsen is investigating whether consumers would be more willing to cooperate with its Internet and TV convergence panels if Nielsen agreed to “limit monitoring to certain sites.” Previous Nielsen research indicated that one of the biggest obstacles confronting such convergence research is consumer concern over the privacy of their Internet behavior [also known as the “porn problem”].