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NBCU calls time on ratings-based trading for all advertising on its local TV stations

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Impressions, rather than ratings points, will now be used as the measurement standard for all ad campaigns running on NBCUniversal’s local TV stations and NBC Sports regional networks. There are several reasons for the move. First, it is believed that marketers will find it easier to plan holistically across all platforms and screens as they evaluate their overall ad buy, since the digital advertising world is impressions-based.

Nielsen ratings measurements are said to under-report, because of the minimal threshold needed before a panel rates a show – resulting in zero ratings despite a show having viewers. A second motive is to fix this problem. And NBCUniversal believes impression-based measurement will better reflect the increase in viewers resulting from Nielsen’s introduction of broadband-only (BBO) homes into local market samples, which begins in April.

“Moving to impressions brings the added benefit of eliminating zero cell quarter-hours, which had previously resulted in a reduction in inventory,” says Michael Chico, Executive Vice President of NBC & Telemundo Owned Television Station Sales, NBCUniversal, further explaining a problem affecting multichannel TV worldwide as audiences have fragmented.

“Ratings, unlike impressions, are held to Nielsen’s minimum reporting standard thresholds. Ratings that do not meet these minimums are reported as zero viewership, while impressions are reported when viewing occurs in all quarter hours, effectively adding back anywhere from 5-20% of viewers depending on the daypart. This provides additional inventory for agencies and clients to reach their impressions goals on buys,” Chico continues.

NBCUniversal announced the move to impressions-based buying of local ad inventory in September 2019. Clients and agencies who were not trading on impressions were granted additional time to transition while they evaluated the impact the change would have on their business and clients. That transition period has ended and now all NBC/Telemundo TV stations and seven regional sports networks will use impressions for 100% of trades.

Frank Comerford, Chief Revenue Officer, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations at NBCUniversal, declares: “Our local businesses were among the first to put a stake in the ground around the move to impressions-based ad buys more than a year ago, giving local marketers a better currency for measurement. Utilising impressions puts local TV on a level playing field with digital, since advertisers will no longer need to convert ratings to impressions in order to evaluate an overall ad buy.”


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