Creating One Unique Measurement for All TV Viewing Remains Elusive

by Marc Berman  |  10.19.2016

Maintaining value in the legacy broadcast model for advertisers and broadcasters while recognizing the opportunities in emerging digital channels — and capitalizing on them — was the focus of “Measurement in Focus: How Close is the TV Business to Settling on a Universal Cross-Platform Currency?” during the Advanced Advertising track at NYC Television & Video Week on Wednesday.

Featured were Randy Cooke, vice president of Programmatic TV, SpotX; Colleen Fahey Rush, executive vice president and chief research officer, Viacom; Joan FitzGerald, vice president, product management and business development, TiVo; and Andrew Feigenson, managing director at Nielsen with Broadcasting & Cable Editor in Chief Dade Hayes moderating. Compatibility across platforms and comprehensive coverage in audience measurement was the theme.

At the discussion’s center was Nielsen’s Total Audience measurement system, which is now being rolled out live, according to Feigenson.

“One of the major components, of course, is the digital content ratings, which [are] now live. This is already being used by some buyers and sellers, and is expected to be a tool at the 2017 Upfronts,” he said.

Nielsen’s goal for total audience measurement is to offer its clients a standardized set of metrics, allowing them to make an apple-to-apples performance comparison across platforms to show the value of the total audience.

“My guess is we are in a year of a lot of flexibility,” said Feigenson. “Let’s take the stuff that we know and some of the stuff we don’t necessarily know and work with it.”

The Value of This Third-Party Measurement

“We do value the trust and the transparency that comes from having a ComScore or a Nielsen as a third- party measurement [tool] and [that shows] how people are really doing business at present,” said Viacom’s Fahey Rush. “Viacom is really all about harnessing all different data sets so we can really work with the advertiser and the agency to define this segment together and deliver impressions and reach and their guaranteed target. There is going to be an acceleration of that in 2017.”

“It used to be all about ranker,” explained TiVo’s Fitzgerald. “You generated a ranker based on your advertiser’s audience and you picked the top choices, but we need to move the marketers away from this grid that was your accountability report card and into delivering the reach against their actual target.”

Common consensus was it all about the right placement of ads in which an age/gender network daypart grid has been replaced with dealing with hundreds of audience targets. But not everyone at the session was convinced that linear and digital television belongs together.

“I don’t think it makes sense,” explained SpotX’s Cook. “You’ve got two different business models here. Traditional television, which is predicated on selling 30-seconds valued on the composition of everybody who sees it in a distribution model; and TV content within an IP stream where you are getting to the point where audiences are discoverable at the time of consumption.

“I think [each platform] deserves a measurement and a currency that reflects those business models. When you look at TV itself, you have the C3 [commercial live-plus-three-day] ratings at a network level but you have 210 individual economies across the country using all different metrics. We don’t have a common currency in TV, so to expect that we are going to have a common currency as an umbrella for everything is like wishing in one hand and doing something else in the other.”

“These are both exciting times and uncertain times,” concluded Viacom’s Rush. “And with both comes opportunity. But there is a learning curve here, and a definite steep one.”

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