When the history of audience measurement eventually gets written, 2022 will be remembered as the year when Madison Avenue officially scrapped long-standing methods of industry self-regulation in favor of ones based on certifications by its suppliers.
It will also be remembered as the year when the world’s biggest advertisers and …
Joe, there are many ways to look at TV audience measurement---I assume that nobody cares about radio, magazines, newspapaers or OOH. For example when NBCU cites content-on-screen projections for the Olympics as an add-on to Nielsen's mostly "linear TV"data---which is based on claimed viewing---it's not so much a case of NBCU using an alternative source but, rather of NBCU combining several sources to provide a more complete picture. The main issue for future improvement is whether "we" are going to accept content-on-screen as a surrogate for viewing by people---and let's be frank, this is the direction in which the sellers are heading us. I don't blame them, by the way, as content-on-screen will give them much larger numbers to use in selling commercial time to advertisers---numbers which overstate actual commercial viewing by a huge amount that varies by the amount of ad clutter in the breaks, by daypart, program type, demographics, how othen the same commercial has been shown, etc.
The answer, of course, is to build in an attentiveness measurement for all devices when they display any kind of content in any location---but I doubt that you will hear any seller---or Nielsen, for that matter---- pushing for this much needed improvement. So, if we believe that smartsets, smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops represent TV's audience---instead of people---that's what we will get. It's nothing more than a great leap backward to the early days of TV when set usage was accepted as a surrogate for viewing---until we wised up and recognized the folly of this simplistic assumption.
Brilliant piece Joe. You nailed it. And once content (or ad) on screen is the metric, demos will be assigned based on household residents (as some measurement providers do already) so if a household has 5 people, all five are counted even if there is only one viewer. Or some "model" is used and everybody says ok. Of course, if the screen is off but the computer/device feed is on, those impressions will also count.
Thoughtful solutions have been proposed by Dave Morgan and others, but device based numbers are becoming the law of the land. I for one prefer persons based data. This can be made to look like it, but it isn't.
Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.
Great piece Joe.
The trend for the past decade or so is 'egocentric' measurement. Media businesses are increasingly self-reporting and devising new metics generally with a cute moniker. Yes, they know shed-loads more about how they operate and the KPIs imortant to them.
But at the end of the day the important part of the marketing equation is the advertiser. Media is hard enough to understand for the advertiser and its media agency.
In essence we are ending up with a plethora of individual silos that are not comparable and often indecipherable. The advertiser needs to see 'the big picture' then drill down to publisher level.
We need more 'altruistic' measurement of the market. At the micro level it won't match each and every publisher's claim, but overall it would be a more workable data set. Once the strategy is established you can then drill down to the publisher level if you can decipher why each publisher talks a different language.
Oh. And of course it would be nice if all the heads were banged together and a 'trading currency' agreed upon. If we focussed more on building that trading currency (across ALL media) rather than tearing it down then marketing and advertising would be in a better place.
The problem with seeking a common "currency" for all "TV" platforms is simple, John. If you don't use an equalizing measure like attentiveness---which simply tells you if anyone watched a program or commercial no matter what other variables are at play, then you must eventually deal with those variables.
Let's say, for the sake of discussion, that after much debate it is decided that if the commercial is on-screen for three or more seconds that that is the metric that lets us compare all TV exposure situations regardless of what device is used, where it is used and what's on the screen. The problem is that users of this magic metric will soon find themselves asking how to differentiate between commercial lengths. Next---and right up there, will be how to evaluate varying ad clutter situations. Next we will have to ask ourselves about frequency---does the three second rule apply if its the first time the commercial gets to a set---or the fifth time---or the tenth time? Or is there a wearout factor to contend with? And what about age and education? Do 18-24s pay as much attention to TV commercials as oldsters? How about college grads?Then we need to think about the program content our commercial appears in. Does it matter if its a rerun of The Flintstones" or a taut, medical drama? What about the "Today Show" versus, a NFL football game? Last but not least, some products and their commercials are simply more interesting than others. Yet the three second rule treats all exposure situations equally. Is that right?
In short, we will soon be making adjustments to our magical metric to deal with such issues which means that we have accomplished nothing. Yet attentiveness avoids all of these pitfalls. It's the great equalizer.
I was primarily referring to the medium that carries the ad, rather than the ad itself. In essence we want to know that a 100k audience for (say) cinema is the same for a 100k audience for a TV show, a magazine, a radio shpw etc. If we don't have parity at that level then we are pushing the proverbial up a hill.
But not all media are alike. One could argue that a cinema is a more captive audience meaning that 100k cinem probably exceeds 100k of TV audience or an OOH audience.
I'm bulish that we could derive 'medium attentiveness factors' for each medium that could be applied to the parity-based audience data.
Then we have to consider the content that is carried by the medium. Using TV as an example ... not all programmes are created equal. It is probably possible to do some research to provide a "content attentiveness" factor - which programme is more effective by demo. This would have to be a time-series factor. Difficut but possible. The respnsibility would be the media owner as they own the content and can modify its time-slot, environmant, talent, plot, producer etc (which they pour over but generally rely on gut-feel).
Then comes the hard part. The attentiveness of the ad. Is the intro strong enough to deter channel changing or leaving the room etc? How long does that specifc ad need to be viewed as determined by the creative (the tag may be in the ? Is the audio good enough? There are a plethora of factors to be taken into account.
But the kicker is that the media owner doesn't own or control the ad content. Surely that should be the remit of the advertiser - to know about how their ad works best.
And then finally
Yes, John, but the media owner who puts out silly, low budget, content and tons of reruns and jams the commercial breaks with ad and promotional clutter ---as opposed to one who airs engaging fare and limits ad/promo clutter-----is affecting the performance of the commercials---no matter how well done or relevant they are.