Recently, we have heard broadcast groups – including NBC, CBS, ABC, Hearst, Graham, and Gray announce that they will move away from ratings and begin using impressions, as their basis for measurement and selling. This fundamental change, championed in part by TVB (the Television Bureau of Advertising) and their Local TV Impressions Campaign, reflects the industry’s need to capture and measure the ever-evolving behavior of viewers who consume content across platforms and devices.
The traditional approach of using ratings to measure a campaign or plan a buy was the accepted, standard way of doing business. And no parties have been particularly willing to change or rock the boat – until now, thanks to technology. By shifting to impression-based buying, television, particularly local, can now offer brands and agencies insight to the actual number of people watching, instead of a general percentage. This also enables TV to legitimately compete with the granularity offered by digital and at the same time, measure audiences across platforms with a common metric. As TVB simply says, “The use of Impressions ensures that all viewers on all screens are counted.”
Some weeks ago, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations Chief Revenue Officer and President Frank Comerford announced that all of the division’s NBC and Telemundo stations were making that change, effective immediately.
Hearst Television was the first to announce it was going in this direction, and CBS Television Stations has said that it’s already working with clients using CPM modeling. Now, Gray Television has confirmed that it plans to do the same.
For agencies and buyers, the use of impressions equips them with a standard set of currency data – CPMs (cost-per-impression) – with which to strengthen their buying strategy. So, instead of having separate budgets for digital, spot TV, and national tv, a brand could potentially buy cross-platform using the same measurement standard, impressions, to purchase – and thereby, reach a larger audience. As other industry leaders have already pointed out, the move to impressions creates a more level playing field by enabling audiences to be aggregated across platforms.