If the criticism heaped on Nielsen for its questionable TV ratings reports during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic tells us anything, it’s that the time is ripe to add alternative forms of measurement to more fully map the viewership landscape.
The events of this week mark a significant turning point in this debate. The Video Advertising Bureau made a bold move by pressing the MRC to reconsider its accreditation of Nielsen until its ratings disparities are resolved. In June we shared findings that show viewership for advertising in many cases increased at a time when Nielsen reported viewership declines.
But the VAB did more than just call for action against Nielsen. It offered solutions. The day before calling for Nielsen to be held more accountable, it published a special report showing how TV ad ratings could be used as a viable solution for mapping TV viewership, using a full year of ad ratings for over 100 networks with data from every second, of every ad slot available.
The paper, A Fresh Take On Quantifying TV Audiences, also recommends that buyers and sellers employ alternative forms of measurement to ensure they can track their investments and make the most informed decisions.
You can download the VAB analysis of iSpot data here.
In our view, and per the recommendations found in this paper put forth by the VAB, the marketplace is best served if networks have multiple forms of measurement. While we believe show ratings are a useful tool for networks to sell opportunities to brands, we also know brands want more than that to make decisions.
If you’re reading this blog and are an iSpot customer, you no doubt understand how real-time TV ad measurement at scale can reshape the way you do business.
From getting a 50,000-foot view of spending trends in your industry to drilling down into the business and brand impact of your campaigns to evaluating the incremental lift and performance of CTV — so many of you have found unique ways to put the intelligence we surface to work for you and the consumers you serve.
So much of what we do — from providing attention and interruption rates across all creatives to establishing business outcome benchmarks — is reliant on our ability to measure all TV ads down to the second and providing the facts quickly so you can make better decisions.
We’ve found that providing fast, accurate information at scale makes TV more actionable, empowers our brand customers to customize their approach to TV, and future-proof their TV investment strategies.
Likewise on the network side, where we work with all major broadcasters, the granularity at scale has enabled a host of new capabilities. Because we provide business outcomes at scale, networks can now offer business-outcome guarantees… where investments result in sales. We’ve empowered sales teams with the ability to predict advertising reach with great accuracy. We’re bringing together both sides of the equation for deeper discussions. And finally, we’re keeping both sides honest as a trusted source used to confirm that what was sold was delivered.
In doing so, we’re giving brands and networks much greater flexibility to develop bespoke currencies that suit their needs. We’re also offering the industry the opportunity to buy, sell, and evaluate TV ads based not on the shows they’re placed against, but on the performance of the ads themselves on a second-by-second basis… something only we can provide at scale.
(This becomes critically important in the streaming era, where ads are decoupled from TV shows and instead delivered to individual households.)
We recognize the valuable role Nielsen plays in the TV industry and the hard work it puts into its measurement practices. But the days of one size fits all ratings are no longer viable. We’re seeing brands and networks utilize more insights and faster data curated to the specific business needs at a company. That kind of empowerment through transparency is the best way for the industry to put measurement to work for the good of all businesses and the consumers we all collectively serve.