Commentary

Local TV Begins Moving To Impressions-Based Data

Local TV stations and media agencies moving to making deals on the cost per viewer impressions, versus longtime TV ratings, seems to be getting overall industry approval.

But isn’t this a bit late in coming? And what about the risks?

Local TV station ad executives haven’t been exactly aggressive when it comes to competing with locally focused digital media -- with digital media representing, at best, around 15% of all their ad revenue.

Digital media has focused on impressions -- and return path consumer metrics -- for a long time.

Couple this with very slow-growing local TV automated and programmatic advertising platforms. This has meant harder-to-achieve, solid, year-to-year gains for local advertising revenue.

Brad Adgate, veteran media-agency/media-sales research executive, and former executive at Comcast, tells TV Watch: “It’s long overdue, but it’s a start. Using audiences as a negotiating metric is more practical than ratings. It does allow for comparisons with digital media and audience-based buying used with advanced TV.”

For years, there have been other lingering traditional measurement issues for TV stations -- like the lack of local TV commercial ratings, something TV networks have had since 2007.

Nielsen only offers live program-plus-same day time-shifted viewing for local TV. That said, a 2018 4A’s industry report said “live plus one ratings at the local level tie closely to C7 ratings [on the national level] on an index basis.”

Right now, most media agencies don’t ink deals on local TV viewer impressions. Magna Global says it believes it is the first to do so, according to an Axios report.

Why wasn’t this done earlier?

Frank Comerford, the CRO-president of commercial operations for NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations -- which will be one of the first TV station groups to move to impressions -- has said TV station executives were worried about upsetting the “apple cart.”

Does that mean these executives were concerned that a transition period to impressions to establish new client-based ad-pricing levels would possibly lose more business to locally focused digital media platforms? 

With some $20 billion a year on the line when it comes to traditional local TV station ad revenue, maybe that’s an easy answer.

2 comments about "Local TV Begins Moving To Impressions-Based Data".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 13, 2019 at 10:14 a.m.

    Wayne, media planners do not create plans for their branding clients the same way that direct response media people do, The latter are trying to sell a given number of items relative to a number of attempts---"impressions". Hence it is perfectly valid for the DR types to estimate their normal---or expected---response rate and buy whatever number of "impressions" or eyeball "exposures" that may generate the desired outcome. Branding advertisers, on the other hand, are concerned with how well they are covering a target group with their ad message. So they look at the market in terms of percentages. The goal may be to reach 75%  per month an average of 4 times. That translates to 300 GRPs per month To determine what TV ad schedule can deliver that reach and frequency you will have to convert "impressions" into percantages using the population---or target group---universe as the base for the calculation. This can be done for any medium--TV, radio, print, OOH and digital. Yet there seems to be a silly reluctance to convert digital "impressions" into ratings---or GRPs. In reality, the two are exactly the same thing--one indicates the number of eyeballs; the other expresses it as a percentage. In short, this "move" is not really a change at all. Buyers for branding clients willl still be given GRP as their goal, not "impressions".

  2. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, September 14, 2019 at 12:09 p.m.

    Yet again, Ed Papazian has covered the territory well...
    and I agree with his observations and recommendations.

    Yet, I cannot help but observe that this
    latest obsession with impressions really makes
    a "bad impression" when it comes to knowledge
    and transparency in the local TV Stations business.

    I respect Brad Adgate and certain Media Agencies,
    however, "using audience instead of ratings" 
    makes no sense.  It's nonsense, in fact.

    To substitute the low standards of digital "audience" measurement
    for the threatened standards of TV audience measurement
    makes it seem as if so-called "data scientists" have replaced 
    the media researchers to the detriment of quality in media planning and buying.

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