Is There Value In A One Media Currency System?

One future “currency” for TV and all media -- or many? If digital media is any harbinger, maybe the one-currency is a bit too old school.

Currencies seem to be a good idea when you can place a value on advertising inventory, and can easily relate it to other platforms -- or what was paid in the past.

That product -- a 30-second announcement on NBC, a 10-second video opportunity on Facebook, a 5-second pre-roll on a mobile gaming app, an influencer video promotional on TikTok -- still means different things to different marketers.

What’s the value of that one currency, then?

Think about cost per thousand, cost per click, cost per action, cost per lead, cost per sale, cost per install. Other combinations and permutations? Perhaps cost per eyes-on-the-screen per-engagement, per-actual online or in-store sale. Come up with your special “cost-per."



OK, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Perhaps one currency is too literal. There are many who are thinking about a one-currency system — or what Nielsen One is positioned to be.

The biggest question might be a transition of historical data -- content, pricing metrics -- to whatever this new one currency is.

What happens to low, historical “base” TV networks price points that Procter & Gamble, Ford Motor, AT&T, State Farm have worked on? Does all this makes a transition to a new Nielsen One world? Does all this go away? And there’s the flip side: What happens to those mid-level TV marketers with less-attractive-based TV network price points?

Multiple currency systems could be the answer, according to many experts -- including different currencies per industry.
Go further: A currency for each marketer that wants one.

Still, in the near term, you might ask this question: How much is that national TV advertising spot in a NFL Sunday afternoon game on Fox or CBS?

In an ever-more fractionalized media world, full of more granular data, with regard to marketing, content, attribution and/or pricing points, there will be more complexity.

No rest for the TV and media-data weary. The pursuit will continue as long as people seek an easy tool to measure performance and predict outcomes. That’s the simple story.

6 comments about "Is There Value In A One Media Currency System?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 7, 2021 at 10:22 a.m.

    An interesting area for discussion, Wayne, as is Steve Sternberg's "Premium" commentary asking whether we really want a more accurate TV rating service. As I am not a "Premium" subscriber, I didn't read Steve's article but this does not prevent me from voicing some opinions of my own.

    First, and foremost, advertisers got along just fine for 70+ years making arbitrary media mix decisions---without seriously considering alternatives, let alone detailed statistical comparisons of demographic profiles, CPMs, reach attainment, etc. for alternative media plans. So the question about a single audience "currency" for all media was not even raised. But now, it is being raised, mainly by the digital ad sellers who think that if a single "TV/video" rating currency can be created they---the digital folks---will get more "linear TV" ad dollars. Hence, Nielsen One, which will, no doubt,  provide  commercial minute ratings for digital venues based on "impressions", aka page views---which do not tell you if anyone watched the ads---just as the Nielsen "average commercial minute viewer" tallies for TV do not tell us if anybody watched the TV commercials. The question is are the two "measurements"compatible? Probably not.

    Second, is the matter of funding. Since advertisers show no signs of stepping up to the plate and providing serious funding for any "new" rating service and since---let's be honest---there is no interest in a compatible "currency" for radio and print or OOH media---we are talking exclusively about national TV/video. As the media sellers will have to provide 75-80% of the dollars, obviously, their interests will dominate---plain and simple. That means the methodology that provides the biggest numbers ---hence device usage---not viewing---will probably win.

    Which leaves us with the plain fact that the new national rating "currency", whatever it is, will be primarily a time buying and selling tool and so long as the sellers are satisfied that each is getting a fair shake regarding share of "audience" and digital is factored in. It won't matter if the numbers are wildly inflated regarding ad exposure. As for local market ratings, since the stations can't ---or wont---- pay what it takes to have minimally acceptable panel sizes, I see little hope for progress.

    BTW, I'd love to be proven wrong an all of this---but

  2. Jim Meskauskas from Media Darwin, Inc. replied, September 7, 2021 at 2:47 p.m.

    Mr. Papazian,  You are right on most of these accounts, as usual.  But I do think that commercial ratings for digital won't be about pageview impressions a la the old days.  It'll be about the same kind of OTS that linear TV is.  The only think digital about it is the delivery system, not so much the medium.  TV being connected to an IP address and having a device ID, should either of those be used in more robust and meaningful ways moving forwrd, means that the currency, such as it is, can be based more directly on planning audiences (albeit in aggregate rather than individual) instead of demographic surrogates.  Which is what us media planner types have always realy wanted, in our heart of hearts.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 7, 2021 at 5:53 p.m.

    Jim, I hope that you are correct. But I don't see any movement towards defining whether digital "impressions"---whether  attained on a desktop PC, a tablet or a smartphone--will be defined the same way as for TV. In the latter case, Nielsen'speople meter system requires any panel member who is present to signify whether he/she is "watching" the program when it is selected. Beyond this it is assumed that that person---or persons---watches every second of ensuing content---including the commercials---unless the claimed program viewer goes to the trouble of tellling the system that he/she has ceased paying attention or has left the room---which almost never happens. Consequently, you don't really have OTS as about 30% of the presumed "commercial audience" isn't  available to watch even if thay would have liked to.

    The digital situation is even murkier. Say Nielsen counts only those screens where the commercial plays out to its entirety----"100% viewable"----- not the absurd two second rule. If the content is being streamed---as is the case about 65-70% of the time----how does Nielsen know who is in the room and watching the program on the TV set? And, even if some system is devised to handle that---which, at this point seems unlikely---what about those who leave the room?

    As I said in my earlier post, I hope I'm wrong and that some measure of comparability will be built in to Nielsen One---but 

  4. John Grono from GAP Research replied, September 7, 2021 at 8:27 p.m.

    Ed I agree (how unlike me) about "impressions".  

    So I pose the question.   Which is more valuable, having the most accurate impression count, or having impression counts done the same way?

    IMHO comparability across the media trumps expensive accuracy in pockets of the media.   After all, CPM is a construct derived from the TV research and is actually not part of the TV ratings.  In fact any medium can construct its own CPM.   The issue when that happens is that the "M" is consistent and comparable across all media contributing to this single source of media usage.

    An example is one of the FUNKY (apology for my typo in a previous post) things that OzTAM is doing with CTV in its VOZ system.   Same panel, same rules, same source.   While it may not be 100% accurate (e.g. leave room, use 'phone etc.) it as applied irrespective of the source or distribution method of the content or the ad.   At least it is comparable and the data can stand side-by-side.   [Even better you can start getting robust de-duplication data.]

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 8, 2021 at 7:35 a.m.

    John, since we are never going to get 100% accurate average minute  data for TV or digital TV/video from a panel, I would say that it's far better to have both defined in exactly the same manner. This would require 100% viewability for digital---just like TV---and would also require a measurment of who ---af anybody---is present while the content is on the screen plus, who---if anybody--- has their eyes fixed on-screen and for what duration. The problem is that the ad time sellers will, not surprisingly, oppose---or delay---such attentiveness and "viewing" measures as they know that they will reveal that many of their "impresion" play to empty rooms or to "audiences" that are doing something else while "watching".

    I believe that the technology exists to capture 90% of the eyes-on-screen information that is needed ---even if, by definition, all surveys---including panels---are suspect regarding the precision and accuracy of their findings. However, this does not matter---providing that time buyers and sellers know how well each network and program is doing in terms of share of audience, so they are getting the best match of ad dollars relative to reported audience that is possible.

  6. Jim Meskauskas from Media Darwin, Inc. replied, September 8, 2021 at 2:57 p.m.

    Digitally delivered video content (aka "TV" for our sake here) may not have impressions defined in the declarative way that Nielsen panels do (though it could, if a body fielding the panel was doing it through some ubiquitous connected device, e.g. a smartphone and an app).  But it may not have to, if the body could triangulte the TV (more and more of which are connected devices), the portable personal connective device (i.e. smartphone), and the location.  There are companies that already purport to do this, in so far as intersecting device IDs to get deterministic, person-level data, even if they are not knowledgeable in the ways of media discipline and analytics.  Would one be able to get person-level data on who did or did not leave a room?  Diffiicult and possible, but not always precise... yet.  

    All that said, none of it may matter if large advertisers conclude that having a one media currency system requires more friction than extending the level of analytics they are already doing to come to common denominator metrics across the multiple media they are already using.

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