Local TV Burning Issues: Impact of Changes in Measurement Methodologies
When it comes to the evolution of local TV measurement, it can’t be denied that the times are changing. Local television is no longer just linear, but it also reaches across platforms. As a result of this transformation, networks and station groups are vying to be the most technologically advanced and reliable resources for their advertising partners.
The rapid proliferation of both first and third party technology and data—including the utilization of advanced demographics such as household incomes and automotive intenders—has enabled sellers to improve the ways in which they engage their clients by moving away from package-based selling to a more consultative, program-based approach. Although the shift will undoubtably benefit both buyers and sellers, it has also caused an enormous amount of confusion.
Despite some confusion and growing pains, the evolution of local market measurement in the past few years has been essential to creating the methodology of the future: a consistent and cross-platform local market currency. Reliability is key for local television buyers and sellers, particularly as audiences get more fragmented in their viewing behaviors and content consumption choices, fueled by advances in technology and platform availability. Comscore is committed to consistency of measurement methodology. That’s why we’ve built a currency based on massive viewership datasets from a wide variety of partners—datasets that are stable, reliable and privacy-focused. This measurement methodology for the present and future of local television, which we have been expanding and improving for the past decade, is uniform across all local markets to allow for transaction across both platforms and markets. Gone are the days when local measurement methodologies differed based on local market size or resources. These older methodologies were incapable of assessing local demographics in every market and left buyers and sellers with more questions than answers. In addition to stability and reliability, scale also drives consistency in measurement. In 2020, it is insufficient for television buyers and sellers to stake important advertising decisions on inferences derived from tiny panel sizes, for which data comes from households that are compensated to push buttons or are otherwise behaviorally impacted.
While no currency-grade, syndicated local market measurement methodology can know exactly who watches what (and if they are paying attention when they are watching), advances in technology have allowed us to virtually close the measurement gap. Advanced audiences allow us to dig deeper into television viewing behaviors to understand demographics beyond age and gender like: what is their income? What is their family composition? Do they intend to buy a car? What sports do they like? Where do they shop? What do they buy when they shop there?
There is one key question that’s been omnipresent in the local television marketplace recently: are linear TV audiences disappearing? Spoiler alert: they’re not. In fact, aggregated viewing levels across all platforms are higher than ever, and linear TV is still far and away the greatest source of station advertising revenue. But audiences are, to some degree depending on daypart and content, moving away from linear and onto mobile, tablet, and OTT. This begs the question: are the old methods of measurement capable of measuring where these audiences are viewing? The truth is that Local TV audiences aren’t disappearing, outdated measurement methodologies just aren’t adequately measuring them. The methodology of the future is one that will support cross-platform measurement, because local TV audiences aren’t only linear viewers, but also digital content consumers who continue to engage with local media groups, no matter on what device or where they are.
To accurately plan for your advertising, it is important to always consider measurement methodologies which are reliable, stable and scalable for the future, especially during this time of increasing fragmentation. Though audiences are undoubtably choosing other ways to consume video content, you want a methodology that provides long term stability and metrics that drive results across multiple screens. The ‘big data’ revolution is here; Comscore has harnessed the power of massive datasets to produce local market projections that allow buyers and sellers to use metrics that matter more (like new vehicle intenders or homeowners) to build advertising schedules that deliver the ultimate goal – results and profit for both buyers and sellers.
To learn more about Comscore local television measurement, contact us.