It's Time For Industry To Change The Way TV Is Measured

Dave Morgan

Founder & CEO

Originally posted on MediaPost

It may seem a bit like piling on, but I think that it’s finally time for the TV industry to change the way audience and ads are measured, bought and sold. Its measurement is broken and needs to be fixed. Just this past week, quite uncharacteristically, even Nielsen made a case for fixing things.

In a post in MediaDailyNews, Megan Clarken, Nielsens EVP, Global Watch Product Leadership, delineated the failures of existing measurement protocols to keep pace with consumer changes. She concluded with a call for new measurements:

We believe that the fundamental changes occurring in today’s viewing landscape call for the industry to adopt a new set of ratings standards:

  1. Total Audience, which combines the total audience for a program or content regardless of the mode of access, including SVOD.

  2. Total Commercial, which includes ratings for the ad campaign regardless of where and how its consumed, providing flexibility for dynamic ad insertion.

Nielsen executives have long talked about the fact that they are the only custodians of measurements (TVs C3/C& Ratings) owned and controlled by the TV media industry that transacts on them. So it was quite surprising to see Nielsen step up so publicly with a call to media owners to change the ratings. However, given everything that is going on in the broader video/media business today – from massive audience fragmentation, to the rise of subscriber online services, to mobile and tablet viewing – it’s clear that change is needed.

Personally, I like the holistic approach of Nielsens proposed framework and hope that the industry takes steps to move it forward. However, I also hope that the industry goes further. As I’ve written before, I believe that it is critical for the media industry to transact not only on media outputs, but to also measure and deliver against specific business outcomes.

For media to survive and thrive in the commercial communication mix, it needs to be self-evidently valuable not only to advertisers heads of media, but to their chief marketing officers, CFOs, COOs, and CEOs, as well as boards and shareholders. Those folks don’t care about GRPs and sex/age demos and viewable impressions. They care about real business outcomes, like sales.

While Clarken is 100% correct that our industry needs to bring new, holistic, modern approaches to creating ratings and measuring commercial exposures, we also need to link those media impressions to their ultimate business impacts. I hope that we move both reach and reaction metrics forward in parallel. What do you think?

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