Turner President: 'It's Time To Retire Nielsen Television Metric'

Turner Broadcasting executives announced Wednesday their intention to go all in on audience targeting -- encouraging media buyers to shift away from buying only based on Nielsen ratings, TV’s currency standard bearer.

Ahead of the company’s upfront presentation at Madison Square Garden, Turner president David Levy instead pitched the company’s audience-targeting capabilities, touting performance-based buys and targeting and how they can work to improve the traditional metrics.

“We are in a new era of media, and it's time to retire the Nielsen television metric. While it undoubtedly served its purpose, it no longer fully captures how to successfully measure an audience in today’s landscape,” Levy said.

“Audience targeting works, and is generating drastically greater results for our advertising and marketing partners. The time is now—this upfront—for advertisers to change how they think about the value of their marketing and invest in audience targeting.”

During the presentation, that theme continued. The company highlighted the performance of its shows in the TV ratings, yes, but also on social media, on VOD and streaming, and in live events. Turner encouraged advertisers and media buyers to sponsor the whole lot, not just a 30-second spot.

"Make no mistake -- TV matters, but when you only buy TV, you are missing value and opportunity," Turner ad sales chief Donna Speciale told the crowd. "Our industry spends a lot of time taking about the future, but talk isn’t action, and we are not changing fast enough.

"How we create, plan and buy media must reflect how people actually consume content today, and how you can get the best returns for your business," she added. "TV ratings are no longer our sole success metric, and they shouldn’t be yours either. We shouldn’t just value TV, but the whole ecosystem."

The company announced that its AudienceNow platform would expand to cross-platform buys, allowing marketers to use one solution to buy Turner’s programming on TV, mobile and digital devices.

The company also said that it would be cutting back its commercial loads across more channels and dayparts. TruTV first started offering limited commercials in 2015, and other Turner channels like Adult Swim and TNT have followed suit in certain instances. Soon, select CNN programming will move to a limited commercial format.

Alongside CNN’s brand studio Courageous and Turner Ignite Sports, the company said it would launch a new brand studio that would be in tune with the company’s entertainment properties, Turner Ignite Studios.

Turner's top programmer Kevin Reilly unveiled new slates of shows for TNT and TBS, while highlighting how their programming is expanding to live events and social media. Comedy bits from Tiffany Haddish, Tracy Morgan, Shaquille O'Neal, Samantha Bee and Conan O'Brien broke up the advertiser pitches.

11 comments about "Turner President: 'It's Time To Retire Nielsen Television Metric'".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, May 16, 2018 at 11:34 a.m.

    And the ratings we report about our own audience are absolutely reliable and valid. Trust us!

  2. Tracey Scheppach from Matter More Media, May 16, 2018 at 12:15 p.m.

    What an outstanding move!!!

  3. Joel Rubinson from Rubinson Partners, Inc., May 16, 2018 at 12:20 p.m.

    I applaud the commitment to targeting. while old school media folks think creative is 80% of thte story, and continue to search for a lightening bolt with a very small bottle, targeting can produce 2-5 times the marketing ROI if done right each and every campaign. Furthermore, if t argeting drives performance it actually gives the marketer the latitude to use brfand messages in performance opportunities and drive both ROI and brand.  Contemporary thinking requires a waterfall approach to media planning, as I point out here http://blog.joelrubinson.net/2018/05/marketing-practice-changing-as-retailers-become-martech-companies/

  4. Howard Shimmel from Janus Strategy and Insights, LLC, May 16, 2018 at 1 p.m.

    Doug, It's not grading our own homework. It's moving away from age/sex to audience buying/selling, using syndicated data sets like Nielsen/Catalina or comScore/Shopcom. These are data sets that are being used by agencies to plan against now. 

  5. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics replied, May 16, 2018 at 1:25 p.m.

    The article focuses on Mobile and Digital more than it should and less on audience based targeting than it should. Mobile and digital may add a little, but focusing on shows and digital content with high concentrations of product category users is smart. 

  6. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 16, 2018 at 1:33 p.m.

    Just out of curiosity what does the buyer or seller use as a targeting metric for an upfront corporate TV buy involving 35 brands in 7-10 different product/service categories? When you calculate your "big data" set usage ratings by advertiser- defined demos or other indicators for each show do you take 35 separate profililing indices---one for each brand, then average them to come up with the final "currency" for the corporate buy? Or do you insist on each brand's buys being negotiated separately, using a variable currency?If so, do you make GRP guarantees for each brand based on its particular currency?And, in that case, can there even be a corporate-wide GRP base---when the currency for each brand is different?

  7. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics replied, May 16, 2018 at 2:45 p.m.

    What would you recommend?

  8. Data Scientist from No BS Analytics, May 16, 2018 at 3:23 p.m.

    I'm curious how a cable network group can even measure a custom target audience segment, let alone deliver only to such a segment on all their network delivery except using their own IP/web site content streaming services.


    Perhaps Turner is submitting advertiser target filters to Experion and Comscore together with a list of all spot/break times to get the custom audience impression delivery for one month of one campaign on some of their delivery MVPD partners? Or maybe they buy a list of “Generic” target segments from ComScore and attach one of those to each campaign, as Howard I believe is alluding to?

  9. John Grono from GAP Research replied, May 16, 2018 at 7:18 p.m.

    You're not suggesting a 'shiny new label' on old data are you?

  10. R. M. from self, May 17, 2018 at 12:58 p.m.

    As up/new front are industry, I'd like to see networks (if there is even such a thing) drop the rhetoric from 10 years ago, "We are in a new era of media" and lay out the numbers. As someone else just commented, what does the all-media upfront look like on paper for corp buys that encompass many brand needs & the verified metrics to be delivered on for those needs. "allowing marketers to use one solution to buy Turner’s programming on TV, mobile and digital devices" already sounds so archaeic. These should be workshops by brand with Data Scientists, not the "presentations" of yore.

  11. Darrin Stephens from McMann & Tate, May 17, 2018 at 5:41 p.m.

    Everybody clip and save this article and let's see how this plays out, say 1, 2 and 5 years from now.

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