The Future of Local TV Advertising in 2020

"With 2020 right around the corner, we’ll certainly start to see the beginning stages of the rollout of NEXTGEN TV by TV stations, but I strongly believe it will still take about three years before NEXTGEN TV gets to scale." -Brad Smith, Videa

2019 was another pivotal year for the local TV community, making progress on several technological fronts needed to move the industry forward.

From the increasing movement of ratings-based to impressions-based measurement – to the rebrand of ATSC 3.0 to NEXTGEN TV – to changes in local TV attribution, it’s promising to see advancements happening, creating a brighter future for all.

Ratings to Impressions

In the latter half of 2019, we saw several media companies and networks including NBCUniversal, CBS, ABC, Hearst and Graham Media Group committing to, or moving from, ratings-based to impressions-based measurement and selling. They are primarily doing this in order to find a better way to measure audiences as viewership continues to fragment and are increasingly becoming difficult to track. Supporting this, the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) recently issued a press release recommending the advertising community begin using audience impressions as the basis for TV advertising buying and selling.

The shift by stakeholders from ratings, a currency that has been utilized for decades, to impressions is due in large part to the ever-evolving behavior of audiences who consume content across platforms and devices.

This movement also comes from the fact that rating points are rounded which leads to impressions being left off and unaccounted. Broadcasters want to get credit for those rounding impressions (which add up in comparison to digital and other mediums) and they want to make sure that they can sell across all their impressions in the marketplace.

For agencies and buyers, the use of impressions equips them with a standard set of currency data – CPMs (cost-per-impression) – with which to strengthen their buying and measurement strategies. So, instead of having separate budgets for digital, spot TV, and national TV, a brand could potentially buy across screens using the same measurement standard to purchase, and thereby, more easily reach a larger audience. As other industry leaders have already pointed out, the move to impressions creates a more level playing field by enabling audiences to be aggregated across platforms. Videa, I am proud to mention, was the first automated platform to enable impression-based buying of local TV.

As the years progress, this movement towards impressions-based measurement will continue to increase so that TV can keep up with its digital counterpart often seen as the "most measurable medium.”


According to Nielsen’s National Television Household Universe Estimates, there are 119.9 million TV homes in the U.S. for the 2018-19 TV season, with 95.9% of televisions receiving traditional TV signals via broadcast, cable, DBS or Telco, or via a broadband Internet connection connected to a TV set. That means that the appetite from consumers for broadcast is still there despite the increase of OTT.

This is also why this year we saw the Consumer Technology Association transform ATSC 3.0 into something more digestible for the consumer -- NEXTGEN TV. Despite a new name and logo, the standard is still in place to allow broadcasters to deliver targeted ads and alerts and get into the “interactivity space” of digital, ultimately providing increased competition with the OTT world and increased access for the consumer.

With 2020 right around the corner, we’ll certainly start to see the beginning stages of the rollout of NEXTGEN TV by TV stations, but I strongly believe it will still take about three years before NEXTGEN TV gets to scale.

Local TV Attribution

Television this year is finding itself with new legs, as it relates to digital, simply because of performance. Case in point, when major tech players like Facebook, Uber, Amazon, etc. go into markets to advertise, about 80 percent of their spend is on TV. As regulatory environments continue to change with things like cookies and requirements to “opt-in”, the availability of data as it relates to digital can now provide similar levels of attribution. And despite the growth of cord cutters, over-the-air viewing is increasing because people are still consuming broadcast channels, which says a lot about the resiliency of broadcast.

Local TV also has people’s trust and it proves to be strong when it comes to attribution. While television is the center of any brand campaign, local has always taken a hit with attribution because you don’t have that last click that you get with digital. Now, companies that measure attribution for local broadcast are finding that TV is getting less credit than it deserves.

In 2020, we’ll see new forms of measurement such as ACR data and smart TV type measurement play a bigger role, which will show that TV is stronger than what it’s gotten credit for.

Videa is an online buying and selling marketplace for automated television advertising.