Buyers Are Sticking With Nielsen. Here's How Sellers Can Get Them to Also Use Alternative Metrics

Erin Firneno of Advertiser Perceptions
Erin Firneno (Image credit: Advetiser Perceptions)

Throughout 2022, alternative TV-measurement solutions and currencies dominated headlines, presentations and panels — with most sellers predicting, even advocating, replacing Nielsen as TV’s data foundation. While sellers believe it’s time to overhaul TV measurement, buyers are less bullish for outright change  — especially given Nielsen’s recent partnerships with major digital players such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Roku.

When we talked to 200 advertisers this summer, they overwhelmingly said Nielsen will remain their primary currency for TV buys through the foreseeable future. While they agree panel data is outdated, only 46% support completely replacing Nielsen.

The reason: A fragmented measurement landscape makes a buyer’s job much harder. Of course, they want more accurate views of audiences. They simply don’t have the resources to select, test and ultimately manage multiple providers. Nor can they efficiently reconcile differences in audience counts when sellers use different currencies. 

That said, advertisers do see the value in using alternative currencies alongside Nielsen. And they believe alternative currencies will ultimately improve the TV advertising marketplace. So far, two in five advertisers that use alternatives to Nielsen find them just as effective as Nielsen, while one-third find them more effective than Nielsen. 

A fragmented measurement landscape makes a buyer’s job much harder.”

— Erin Firneno

On average, advertisers now work with two providers and are willing to bring in a third. Among the uninitiated, more than half are open to discussion but haven’t made any inquiries.

Sellers need alternative measurement to get full value for audience delivery. With Nielsen strengthening its hold on planning, they need to advance a hybrid future. So, how do sellers get buyers to do what’s best for the business?

Define currency. Advertisers tell us they don’t fully understand the difference between alternative currency and measurement. A universal definition will help. Our survey defined currency as an agreed-upon metric, offering a guarantee that the media buyer and seller agree to use as the basis for transacting TV ad buys. 

Explain the emerging alternatives. Only 29% of advertisers consider themselves very familiar with alternative measurement approaches. Networks and providers need to explain the advantages of alternatives for specific advertisers and situations, starting with their largest accounts, which our research shows are most open to experimenting.

Demystify the methodologies. Advertisers are equally concerned with methodology and performance, and they need consistency of reporting based on robust data sets. Take the time to explain unique benefits in depth. And since every approach has blind spots, spell them out.

Provide the necessary scaffolding. Reassure buyers that alternative currencies can be used in a portion of buys and/or in parallel with Nielsen. Of the advertisers that have used an alternate measurement provider this year, most are testing and benchmarking against Nielsen. So, present exploratory opportunities that mitigate risk, and let advertisers evolve at their own pace.

Create an industry short list. Beyond individual sellers’ educational efforts, a short list of approved providers across the industry may move advertisers confidently en masse into alternate measurement and currency.

Advertisers are voting for a multi-currency world with Nielsen as the foundation. Their question isn’t whether alternate measurement and currencies can improve TV buying. It’s whether networks collectively can make buyers comfortable with a new way of doing business. ▪️

Erin Firneno is VP of business intelligence at Advertiser Perceptions.