July 21, 2020

The 4A’s announced that the organization is challenging Nielsen’s decision to combine national in-home and out-of-home television viewership into a single data stream*.  This stream will be used in calculating ratings and inventory pricing at the start of the 2020-21 broadcast television season – and will also affect C3 and C7 ratings.  This decision will negatively impact both agencies and marketers and their ability to distinguish data streams to support pricing, analysis and audience understanding.

“Agency buyers and marketers have the right to negotiate for the inventory pricing and related metrics including data access , and the use of a single data stream eliminates that choice”, said Marla Kaplowitz, President and CEO of the 4A’s. “The inability to access the disparate viewing streams negatively impacts which metrics inform different viewing experiences, and dilute the transparent measurement solutions that the industry should strive for when making financial decisions.

Concerns related to the shift include the impact to pricing, ability to operationalize disparate streams within buying systems, preparedness with reach and frequency comparisons, and timing related to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on viewing patterns – by Nielsen’s own admission, estimated out-of-home audiences are down by as much as 60%, making accurate forecasting next to impossible using historical data.

The 4A’s calls on Nielsen to take the following actions in order to best serve its agency and marketer client base:

  •     Propose an alternative approach to reporting in-home and out-of-home viewing metrics that avoids combining audience figures from two widely different qualitative viewing experiences.
  •     Ensure both the in-home and out-of-home audience streams are distinct and readily available to all buyers via most third-party and proprietary agency buy management systems.
  •     Delay launch of any proposed combined data stream until a full and complete audit is released by the MRC that accredits the new combined measurement approach.

It is in everyone’s best interest that Nielsen rectify this issue based on the considerations of our member agencies and their marketing partners, and continue to lead the industry in the development of accurate and transparent measurement solutions.

“On behalf of the 4A’s Media Measurement Committee and the broader 4A’s community, I call on Nielsen to provide more equitable and transparent access to the OOH audience data stream in the buying systems that are typically used by agency negotiators.  This will provide a more balanced and informed dialogue between the buy and sell side as we start to transact on the new currencies scheduled to launch in Q3 2020”, said Peter Sedlarcik, Chief Data Officer at Havas Media and Chairperson of the 4A’s Media Measurement Committee.

* NNTV (Nielsen National TV View) & MIT files will report combined viewership as a single value, although NPOWER will continue to report in-home and out-of-home viewership separately, and AMRLD will flag out-of-home records for review.

 

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