Switching from ratings to impressions, TV stations finally join the 21st century

NBC announced that its partner TV stations will now charge based on impressions, not ratings -- a long-awaited update to an outdated pricing model.

September 11, 2019

Starting this week, NBC and Telemundo-owned local TV stations are switching from traditional ratings points to impressions as a means of measuring an ad campaign’s efficacy, Axios reports.

Talk data to me

TV ratings are formulated by tracking the bingeing behavior of a representative sample of US households. 

But with more viewers watching content across multiple platforms — including smartphones, tablets, and computers — those ratings don’t always paint an accurate picture of the number of viewers who are watching.

And some areas have such small populations they don’t even create ratings points.

It’s like these viewers don’t even exist

NBC/Telemundo’s new system will measure ad effectiveness against cost per thousand impressions (CPM). CPM allows agencies to better target audiences they previously had been unable to reach.

Ad agencies had been discussing a switch to CPM in 2020 — but with NBC/Telemundo making the jump, it’s likely other networks will join in the fun.

And CPM isn’t the only metric that stations are rolling out. Next year, TV networks will include out-of-home (OOH) audiences in their rating roundups — a move that could benefit networks like ESPN and CNBC, which have high OOH viewership.

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