We can no longer assume everyone watches TV the exact same way: live TV, not fast-forwarding through commercials, or streaming Netflix in place of the “Tonight on 8/9 central” time slot. In 2014, Time Magazine reported 2.6 billion households are “broadband only, meaning they don’t subscribe to cable or pick up a broadcast signal” and rely totally on streaming services and the entertainment of Kimmy Schmidt.
While a lack of a guide and being forced to make decisions on what you watch and when, Netflix and Apple TV seems more complicated. Conversely, it was actually more simple for TV ratings.
In 2015, Nielsen, a global information, data and measurement hub, launched its digital television ratings service (DTVR), which measures live TV viewings for seven days, at a time. While many networks were using this measurement to track their ratings, it wasn’t enough.
Gone are the days where live TV accurately measures how many people are watching a certain show, or who is watching. Here are the days where people aren’t just watching TV on, well, a TV. Nor during a show’s allotted time slot.
Announced on February 7, 2017, Nielsen was granted a new accreditation system by the Media Rating Council. The new measurement system will “represent the audiences of linear TV programming viewed on computers and mobile devices,” according to MediaPost.
This news is coming just days after Adweek reported it has been a “challenging season” for broadcast TV networks. The article stated ABC, The CW, CBS and Fox fell in ratings with the 18-49-year-old demographic, while NBC was the only network that saw increased numbers.
But, according to President of LEAP Amp Ryan Smith, Nielsen is just playing the catch-up game. “Nielsen is doing a lot of work to catch up to where digital has been for a very long time,” said Smith.
Which is why TV isn’t Smith’s choice for marketing strategies. With television networks and programs, there isn’t a guarantee who is and is not watching. We all know a guy that has gotten sucked into “The Bachelor” a time or two.
The most efficient marketing, Smith believes, is in the digital ads. Through emerging digital technologies, i.e. streaming and YouTube, your audience can be tracked, catered toward and measured more accurately. “Because one is a mass media approach and one is a segmented media approach with a tightly defined audience,” said Josh Pyne, LEAP Amp’s vice president of account strategy. “With live TV, you’re still buying mass media as opposed to buying a hyper-targeted, localized media that’s going to be even more highly targeted, highly customizable and highly measurable. So it’s more performance driven. Whereas, with broadcast media, you’re buying a whole reach, which you have run off costs associated with.”
Not to mention the costs associated with marketing on a network station. While difficult to do and highly expensive, you still have the battle of holding watcher’s attention. Digital watchers are more easily targeted, are watching shows through screens more often than through actual televisions and have a more inexpensive attention span.
“TV is still a powerful medium. That said, digital provides us some incredibly creative ways to work with media buys. The fact is that younger generations have been moving away from television for their entertainment, news, and general content consumption for years. If you’re a marketer and you’re not at least reconsidering your spend on TV vs digital, then that’s a big problem,” said Smith.