Nielsen To Support Impression-Based Local Advertising Sales

Nielsen building in Canada
(Image credit: Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Scalable Grid Engine - Own work, CC0,

Nielsen said it will support the move to impression-based buying and selling of local advertising. Impressions will replace ratings points as the currency for local ad sales.

Nielsen also plans to integrate broadband-only homes into its local measurement.

Both changes are scheduled to take effect in January. Nielsen previously announced plans to add broadcast-only homes to its local measurement next month.

Many station groups and agency media buyers have pushed for the change to impressions in order to make local TV more competitive and comparable to digital advertising.

“We believe the move to impressions and the integration of BBO homes into local measurement metrics is critical to making sure that every viewer is counted,” said Perry Sook, CEO of station owner Nexstar Media Group. “It also enables buyers and sellers to make comparisons across all video platforms, gives them the most complete view of audience consumption and behavior, and facilitates automated buying.”

“Broadcasters have known for years that our content is being viewed inside and outside the home on many devices and services,” added Jordan Wertlieb, president of Hearst Television. “This move to impression-focused selling is something that will not only allow the most-watched content to get the full credit it deserves, but will also allow our clients to truly see the unique value proposition we offer: the best environment with the largest reach.”

In recent months, Nielsen has been under fire for under counting viewers during the pandemic in both its national and local ratings. The Media Rating Council, which audits media measurement companies, has suspended its accreditation of Nielsen national ratings. Its local ratings system is also currently unaccredited.

Nielsen said the switch to reporting impressions lays the groundwork for implementing Nielsen One, its new measurement system that treats all forms of video programming in a consistent and comparable manner.

“Nielsen is committed to measuring all audiences and the complete video consumption across the local marketplace,” Nielsen CEO David Kenny said. “Impressions are the great equalizer across all screens, programs, listeners and viewers. Nielsen’s move to prioritize reporting impressions will help standardize the way it measures ads and content, enabling greater comparability across National, Local and Digital and is in line with Nielsen’s initiative to drive comparable metrics which are foundational to Nielsen One.”

In January, Nielsen will change the default setting for the local reporting in its software systems to impressions. Those systems include Arianna, NLTV and eVIP. It will also lead with impression in its external communication. Ratings will remain available to end users for planning purposes.

“As a leader in the transition to impression-based investment for local over the past six years, we at Magna Global support and appreciate Nielsen’s prioritization of reporting on impressions,” Kathy Doyle, executive VP, managing director, local investment, at media agency Magna Global, said. "In moving forward to a more data informed approach whereby we target more representative and inclusive audiences, impressions are absolutely the core building block that we must start with as an industry."

Nielsen said that its addition of broadband-only households to its local ratings will be audited and reviewed by the Media Rating Council. Adding broadband-only homes will increase reporting sample sizes significantly and capture impressions that may be missing, especially for sports and OTT, Nielsen said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.