“On television and video“is a column exploring the opportunities and challenges of advanced television and video.
Today’s column is from Jo Kinsella, President, TVSquared.
Since the dawn of television, Nielsen’s ratings have been the gold standard for marketers. They measured the percentage of a group (for example, women aged 18 to 49) or households in a particular Designated Market Area (DMA) that tapped into a program. If you wanted to reach a specific cohort, you’d ask Nielsen which show had the highest-rated ad breaks, and that’s where you put your TV budget.
It was a simpler time. For years, families have gathered at a specific time and place to watch television. Our lives revolved around TV by date, and if you weren’t home when the show aired, you missed it.
Fast forward to today, and “watching TV” is a whole different beast – one where Nielsen and his ratings just can’t keep up.
Seismic changes> Old-fashioned practices
New technologies have overturned the old paradigm of television. People are now free to watch both new content and reruns of their favorite shows where, how and when they want. This freedom has essentially erased the TV appointments and, as a result, Nielsen’s ratings.
The Video Advertising Bureau’s call to Nielsen regarding its underestimation during COVID-19, the MRC’s suspension of Nielsen’s national accreditation, and NBCU’s recent initiative to change the currency game grabbed the headlines. We must move away from legacy infrastructures and adopt new practices and technologies that take into account a more complete TV universe. Relying on an old-fashioned television company to play a vital role in a new-school world will never work.
One of the reasons we’ve seen such slow change in Nielsen’s upheaval is because the big media companies are locked into multi-year contracts. As these timelines expire, there is a growing focus on currency and a global push from the industry to update archaic practices and adapt them to a converging television world.
How we missed the mark
Nielsen’s reign is a long one, but he has occupied that position with the support of the television ecosystem. After all, advertisers love their “golden standards”. No one has ever been fired for buying time on popular shows, and who doesn’t love the initials and all the glitz and glamor that surrounds them? Content providers were keen to keep Nielsen if their shows also received high ratings.
The question is, how much do we have really know the odds? It would not have been necessary for the VAB to request an audit and a loss of MRC accreditation for this question to be raised. Transparency across all platforms and devices must be the new standard.
Ratings give you an indication if people have seen your ad, but not much else. (And their accuracy is subject to debate.) They don’t provide insight into the optimal reach and frequency in households, nor do they tell you how an ad performed in a specific program, such as whether a viewer had it. view and then took action. The best performing shows seldom match the best rated ones.
The complex customer journey we find ourselves in today is yet another reason that reviews are no longer relevant. They do not take into account a multiplatform, multimedia and multi-screen universe where television can be consumed on any device, nor do they provide information beyond the simple scope based on demographics. simple such as age and gender.
Today’s buyers and sellers need unique and unduplicated reach, results and audiences, seamlessly and permanently. With the push of a button, metrics should deliver metrics and optimization opportunities that enable businesses to trade the right way.
And while Nielsen has taken steps to capture a more holistic picture of total TV time with streaming ratings, his panel still only covers a small proportion of TV when you factor in the linear, streaming, and addressable landscape. very fragmented.
What has really gone wrong is that, as an industry, we have spoken out from one company – Nielsen – even as new devices and channels for television consumption accelerated. It’s just what we knew.
What’s next for television?
Viewers now have access to more premium video content than ever before and plenty of ways to watch it. We live in a golden age of content, and it is essential that we do it right in order to preserve and continue to develop the power of television.
To do this, we can no longer have “Nielsens”, where we base an entire industry on a single set of measures that cannot easily adapt to change. Television is far too diverse and dynamic to support this.
The recent issues surrounding Nielsen have also been a driving force for greater industry-wide collaboration, jointly tackling the hard work of creating a precise way to reflect the way all types of people view the world. television.
I am optimistic to see collaborative efforts across organizations like the VAB and IAB, the TV Data Initiative, Go Addressable and others, coming together to break down silos, set new technology standards and practices. improved data and ultimately support better measurement across the converging television landscape.
The opportunity for television has never been greater than it is now, and the right set of the right metrics and currencies will benefit everyone. Together, we are creating and will continue to create the change necessary to build the best TV ecosystem.