TV Needs Better Forecasting, Maybe Some New 'Currencies': Shimmel

The TV advertising industry needs better forecasting, says Howard Shimmel, head of strategy for datafuelX, president of Janus Strategy and Insights, and former chief research officer at Turner Broadcasting.

This will help produce more accurate audience estimates and guarantees-- and more importantly, can address major criticism from the likes of Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer of Procter & Gamble, who has complained about the current TV upfront process.

Shimmel tells TV Watch: “The industry has faced a challenge -- especially of the last couple of years -- trying to forecast, using a Nielsen data set and Nielsen panel size that was too small to reflect the fragmentation of the industry.”

He adds: “At the same time, digital media -- connected TV and other platforms -- is growing. And those [channels] have way more precision around how much inventory they have to sell.”



“Going into the upfront, every network needs to provide some upside opportunity, in terms of their selling estimates, to cover some of Nielsen's instability.”

More importantly, with all the new activity around "alternative"  currencies, he warns, a major piece is missing. "Nobody is looking at it in terms of increased precision, increased clarity in terms of how much inventory is really left available to sell."

In the past, and currently, he says, the industry looked at "stability" in terms of broad demographics -- like 18-49. That said, "nobody ever thought that a 19-year-old [woman] in college and a 48-year-old woman were worth the same to a marketer. We created those groups to create stability."

The good news is that massive sample sizes by new measurement companies can help marketers.

No longer do marketers need to count on a limited 40,000-home Nielsen panel. Many smart TV-based measurements with data coming from 20 million to 30 million homes can help those more niche marketers -- say, luxury automaker BMW -- reach a more stable, targeted number of potential consumers.

The downside: “None of these measurement companies are going to look like Nielsen... And they are going to look different network by network, genre by genre. We almost need to start and rebase everything -- by provider.”

In Nielsen's favor: It still backs what is important to marketers and media agencies. “It's a commitment to MRC [the Media Rating Council]”, says Shimmel -- the approval of third-party, independent accreditation.

Shimmel adds that Nielsen does a good job in recruitment of a third-party panel as well as the technology around that panel.

Where does he see "alternative" currency measurements landing n this upfront process? "A couple of months ago, I thought maybe 25% could be done off of alternative currencies. I now think that is aggressive. I now think it'll be more like 10% or 15%."

Some of this could come from a demo based on or an audience based on VideoAmp data, he says.

And how does this affect the marketplace overall? Marketers and media agencies are taking more "aggressive" steps, he says -- and that might push Nielsen "to get their act together."

2 comments about "TV Needs Better Forecasting, Maybe Some New 'Currencies': Shimmel".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 21, 2022 at 10:15 a.m.

    Wayne, I don't get this. Even if we move to a 100 million ACR set reporting base, instead of Nielsen's 42,000 people meter homes TV ratings will still be fragmented, hence less predictable---wont they? Also, sellers usually don't guarantee individual show ratings, they guarantee total schedule delivery ---all shows and episodes in the buy----over certain time frames---often a quarter. Accordingly the ups and downs in their guesstimates tend to cancel eachother out.

    It is true, however, that certain sellers deliberately over estimate their future audience tonnage delivery--this is very common for new, nationally syndicated TV shows with no track record in the Nielsens and for very low rated cable channels which can easily create many make good spots by simply adding to their commercial clutter. But if a major seller---- say a CBS TV network, for example-----averaged only 1.5 million adults aged 18-49 during the current season in prime time and it claims that this will double next season I would say that it's the time buyer's duty to challenge this assumption and get involved in a show by show future rating debate with the sellers--before simply accepting such a deal.

    One final point. Most TV time buys are still negotiated on those ancient  umbrella "demos"--- adults aged 18-49 or 25-54. These once constituted half or sometimes more of the average minute "audience" but now they represent far less---in some cases only 20-25%. Obviously, if the sellers switched to a more sensible audience guarantee base---like adults 18+----which reresents 80-85% of their viewers, their rating estimates would probably be less erratic. Such a move would be no problem for advertisers as 18-49 and 25-54 deals have nothing to do with targeting. Most of the viewers are 50+ like it or not.

  2. Jerome Samson from 3.14 RMG, April 26, 2022 at 12:36 p.m.

    Panels aren't the bad guys they're made out to be.

    If one company had TV data for every single person in the country, panels would be moot. But that's not the case. Big data (from MSO, SmartTV, or streaming platforms) is usually narrow: Yes, 30M households is a big number, but it's only one in every four US households. Who knows how the rest of them watch TV.

    So, two things can happen: big data companies can somehow band together and cover the whole country in all its diversity - in which case a panel will be needed to normalize discrepancies in measurement methods; or big data companies, together, can only cover a portion of the country - in which case a panel will be needed to tell the full story.

    Either way, like it or not, panels are here to stay.

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