As part of our series on the Top 10 Burning Issues in Local Television, today’s blog discusses Comscore’s endeavors to bridge the divide between TV and digital. Earlier this month, during Comscore’s annual Local TV Agency & Sales Conference, EVP of Local Services Steve Walsh discussed the industry’s need to access integrated measurement across all screens. Let’s dive deeper here.
Platform convergence is our new reality as the lines continue to blur between traditional and digital media distribution and consumption. Differences in the way each medium has historically been measured demand better alignment to make cross-platform measurement usable in the local marketplace.
Consumers today have countless options for what to watch and how to watch it. The media ecosystem is complex and fragmented, but amid this shifting landscape, traditional TV remains a powerful means to reach and engage audiences. TV is, by far, still the dominant medium for reaching consumers – but times are changing. While digital is the consumer’s tool for researching purchase options, TV remains marketers’ go-to medium for building brand awareness.
The obvious questions are: how can marketers increase the effectiveness of their TV budgets? how can broadcasters and agencies better understand and transact upon the unduplicated impressions and reach of their campaigns in this highly fragmented, cross-platform world we live in?
Nexstar, NBCUniversal, Gray, Hearst and other major industry players have announced their move to an impressions-based selling currency. After 60 years of selling into a ratings-centric environment – which was fine in the pre-digital days but no longer sufficient or practical in a multi-platform, hundreds-of-channels viewing, ecosystem – the industry is shifting to a more holistic currency foundation.
As the industry makes this shift, it’s important to recognize that there is still work to be done and consensus to be reached on what an “impression” is in a cross-platform world. There are household impressions, demographic impressions, campaign impressions and, arguably, content impressions. Furthermore, there has long been a disconnect between how an impression was defined on linear TV (30-60 seconds, depending on whom you’re talking to), and on digital (2-3 seconds).
The whole idea of “duration weighting” comes up, too. How do you normalize the value of a 30-second spot and a 10-second pre-roll? The Media Ratings Council (MRC) recently announced some new benchmarks around all of this, but it is up to the industry to work together and agree on what is suitable for currency. As a trusted industry measurement partner, Comscore is in the center of that debate and opportunity. This is a great place for Comscore to be as our industry undergoes this foundational transition from the last 60 years to the years in front of us all.
The Way Forward:
What if there was a reach-based local cross-platform measurement service?
What if such a measurement service integrated second-by-second viewing data directly from tens of millions of set-top boxes, and combined it with a digital footprint of more than 400 million digital devices?
What if this type of data were available at a local market level?
At Comscore, our massive data assets enable us to provide comprehensive, stable measurement—both cross-platform and on individual platforms—which is why Comscore is actively working on a comprehensive local cross-platform measurement service. This service will integrate our 30M linear TV household measurement footprint with our digital footprint of approximately 400 million digital devices.
Working in partnership with TV station groups, we are already reporting on nearly 100 local markets on a cross-platform basis. We are actively working with local broadcasters to ensure that all stations’ content meets tagging thresholds and is capable of being measured across smartphone, desktop and tablet devices.
Data scale is key. Comscore will directly observe duplication and consumption overlap across TV, desktop and mobile devices in more than five million U.S. households. Our solution will provide the market with unparalleled insights into total local content consumption by station, as well as reach by platform￼.
- Impression-based selling and buying is where the marketplace is headed. “Impression-based” means evaluating audiences across platforms by using instances of viewing to create a common metric that can be used to measure across TV and digital.
- Adding up traditional TV ratings with digital metrics is “comparing apples to oranges.” In a world of cross-platform viewing and audience reporting, impressions are the common metric which unlock the ability to report unduplicated reach across multiple viewing platforms.
- Comscore is working towards a comprehensive local cross-platform measurement solution, which will allow buyers and sellers to reach and report the entirety of their local audience across linear TV and digital with confidence.
Evolving consumer behaviors will continue to drive innovation in measurement and will also compel the industry to change the way it evaluates audiences in the buy/sell process. Comscore is proud to power this innovation, in service to broadcasters, agencies, and the marketers we serve every day.
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