Networks Chase More Granular Data, Impressions And Total Audience Become Key

The industry assumes a cable network selling a “total audience” metric is a good thing -- not just a large number staring down on a media plan.

It wasn’t all that long ago TV networks were selling total household ratings, only to shift to demographics ratings -- for better targeting. (Hello, 18-49). Then, the moving to commercial TV ratings (2007). More recently, they added in much more time-shifted viewing.

Now the world moves more in a more granular way, with impressions. It’s all about better targeting and looking at an entire world view -- fractionalized among so much new media. Who doesn’t want total audience? Next is where addressability comes in -- TV’s holy grail for super targeting, going well beyond demos of 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54.

As a cable network group, A+E Networks believes it should move away from the medium's typical demographic selling focus -- the 24-54 viewer group.



So it made sense when Peter Olsen, president of advertising sales for A+E Networks, said a key piece of the puzzle will be to include all viewers in upfront deal-making, including 55+ viewers.

In the recent past, older consumers were believed to be be set in their ways, not wanting to change brand loyalty or longtime product behaviors -- happy with their auto insurance company, brand of coffee, and weekend chain restaurant choices. So why make a big effort to hit them with lots of ad attention?

The digital world has shown change is possible for all consumers. Digital platforms can adjust creative to lure in different users. Traditional TV? Not so much.

Promoting total audience metric hints at the obvious in this context: Steadily declining TV ratings, accelerated by cable TV networks losing potential viewers due to overall cord-cutting. Neither sellers nor buyers like this trend. No worries, say A+E. Secondary guarantees for demographics are still around for those who need it.

Is that enough? Consider the lack of overall standards when it comes to analyzing iffy cross-media platform measurement -- and well as being able to compare one media platform/network to another.

"Total audience" will continue to be good words -- filled with lots of promise.

1 comment about "Networks Chase More Granular Data, Impressions And Total Audience Become Key".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 11, 2021 at 10:05 a.m.

    Good piece, Wayne. As I keep pointing out, the use of 18-49 and 25-54 as audience tonnage guarantee metrics harkens way back to the early 1970s and, in some cases even earlier, when the broadcast TV networks were the only game in town and they were quite capable of delivering younger adult and teen/kid audiences in prime time as well as young adults in the late night hours and young women with their newer daytime soaps. But 18-49 and 25-54 now represent a minority of the audience delivery and a shrinking one at that. With the median age of the prime time viewer pushing 60 years while many late night shows come in only five or six years better, why use 18-49 or 25-54 as a buying currency---let alone as a targeting "metric"? So I agree totally with A&E and it won't be long before other networks see the light and go "total adult  audience" as well. It's against their interests to discount the majority of their viewers. Also, for advertisers such a change will not be harmful---if they can better integrate media planning into their time buying and allow their brands more freedom of action. There  ways that this can be done---even in upfront corporate buying---which we discuss in "TV Dimensions 2021". It's really a no brainer.

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