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.