Nielsen recently announced that the company is shifting local TV from ratings-based to impressions-based buying and selling (i.e. cost per thousand or CPM) as of January 2022, as it integrates broadband-only homes into its metrics. And local radio may not be far behind. In fact, in major markets where most buys are agency-driven, this is already starting to take place.
What does this mean and why is it happening?
A shift from ratings to impressions would change media measurement from the percentage of the population reached by an ad campaign (rating points) to the projected number of viewers or listeners reached. Driving the shift is a desire from media buyers and agencies to simplify cross-platform media buying; transacting on impressions allows for a common metric that can be used across media channels.
That’s not to say that rating points are totally going away, as gross rating points are important for planning purposes in order to account for reach and frequency. According to Nielsen Audio Managing Director Brad Kelly, “Impressions aren’t coming at the expense of ratings but in addition to them. You still have to plan with ratings points.”