Buzz Knight is the founder and head of strategy and innovation at Buzz Knight Media.
Last month Nielsen announced its “Impressions First Initiative” to support the local TV industry’s move to impressions-based buying and selling. This change will start in January 2022, and it will likely trigger a move by the radio industry as agencies transact across multiple channels.
Impressions-based selling changes the currency from one that takes a rating based on the percentage of the population reached by an ad campaign (rating points) to the projected number of viewers — or in radios’ case, listeners — reached.
I reached out to two experts in the advertising agency universe to get their take on this movement and how the radio industry should be prepared.
Brad Adgate is a long-standing expert in agency business from his nearly two decades as SVP of research at Horizon Media and is a regular contributor to Forbes. He believes “it is necessary for radio to migrate toward impressions, as ratings have become an outmoded measurement as a negotiating currency.”
Adgate has no dog in this fight and can take an objective view of the landscape. He observed, “with television moving toward impressions and digital media already there, it will be easier for marketers to evaluate radio with the two biggest ad supported media.”
It is necessary for radio to migrate toward impressions.Brad Adgate
He thinks advertisers would overwhelmingly applaud radio moving toward impressions.
Kevin Gallagher is another veteran of the agency world and spent many years in a decision-making role as EVP for Starcom Media Vest until his recent departure. He says, “It seems inevitable that radio should also transition to impressions with reasons for the change being allowing for same currency comparisons to TV and other media.”
What struck me in his comments is the opportunity for “greater monetization of audience, since rounding to ratings potentially results in lost audience, and accuracy can be a factor again, since rounding is used in reporting ratings.”
I also spoke with Martha Matthews, Senior Vice President, Local Investment, Dentsu Media U.S., about her companies’ current take on impression-based selling.
Matthews says, “Our local investment team started transacting off of impressions about five years ago, I believe at the time there was one other agency doing so. We just felt it was necessary to allow for cross platform comparisons within a given market, having that one common metric was really essential.
“At the time it did feel like a big change; I would say we adapted pretty quickly. It required a shift in legacy thinking. For our team, partners, and clients, obviously, ratings are meaningful in a given market, but they don’t represent the same value across markets. We can aggregate impressions across markets, and that’s been pretty powerful in reporting to our clients. We just believe uniform measurement gives meaning to total market.”
Uniform measurement gives meaning to total market.Martha Matthews, Dentsu Media U.S. SVP of Local Investment
As TV is leading the move to impressions, at the same time the integration of broadband only homes into Nielsen’s local TV measurement metrics in on the horizon for January 2022. Clearly Nielsen is motivated to make this move in line with their Nielsen One initiative as their CEO David Kenny says: “Impressions are the great equalizer across all screens, programs, listeners and viewers.”
Regarding Nielsen One, according to Adgate: “The announcement was long overdue, and at the time widely supported. The recent Nielsen controversy over the past six months has taken center stage in media attention, but the reaction to the announcement was accepted by networks, agencies, and advertisers.”
So This Is the Future
But is there an opportunity for radio to get a larger share of the pie?
According to Gallagher, “Potentially — because agency planners will be able to compare like-to-like cost per thousand benchmarks across all media channels that use impressions/CPM as the metric. Currently, only local TV and radio are still using ratings/cost per points. So, rather than growing share, there is potentially greater risk of not being included on media plans because of not moving to impressions-based measurement and currency.”
Rather than growing share, there is potentially greater risk of not being included on media plans.Kevin Gallagher
Gallagher also believes there could be greater monetization of audience and greater accuracy “since rounding to ratings potentially results in lost audience and accuracy since rounding is used in reporting ratings.”
While recording the podcast, I asked Matthews to put a fine point on the discussion on impressions. Her take? “Get on board. It might feel scary, and we are all used to a legacy way of thinking — but it’s the future, and you don’t want to be left behind.”
Borrowing two classic sayings, the train is leaving the station, and it’s last call for radio to get on board.Listen to “An Agency Executive’s Take on Radio Adopting Impression-Based Selling” on Spreaker.