The shift in television viewer habits during the pandemic has pushed advertisers to look for ways to measure audiences more accurately. The demand for demographic metrics that reflect consumer behavior has grown, especially after TV ratings stalwart Nielsen asked the Media Ratings Council to temporarily halt the accreditation process in August.

“From a demo measurement perspective, we’re looking at alternative measurement partners that are comparable and can work alongside the Nielsens of the world,” Alex Stone, senior vice president of advanced video and agency partnerships at media agency Horizon Media, said in this interview with Beet.TV.

“Ideally, what we want to do is come to a place where maybe instead of just buying on Nielsen, perhaps there’s an alternative source,” he said, pointing to measurement companies such as Comscore and VideoAmp.

Horizon has consulted with media companies that also are looking for alternate currencies that provide other ways to value their advertising inventories.

“We’ve been talking to our publisher partners, and understanding what they’re doing,” Stone said. “We know that it’s a long road. By no means, do we think that there’s going to be a product that’s ready for us to be buying by the time of 2022-23 upfronts. We hope to make some strides for when that occurs.”

For its part, Nielsen is developing a service called Nielsen One to encompass people’s media consumption habits for linear television and newer streaming platforms.

Adding Brand Metrics

In its discussions with media outlets about measurement, Horizon is asking them to have an open mind and “to learn with us,” Stone said. Metrics such as such brand lift, engagement and conversions may have a bigger role, as they do with digital advertising.

“From a research perspective, it doesn’t just have to be demo measurement,” he said. “It could be some of the other brand metrics that frequently came from the digital teams.”

Content and Context

With Google planning to end support for tracking cookies in its popular Chrome browser and Apple’s recent privacy changes, advertisers have a less reliable way to measure audience impressions online. The bigger hurdles for audience-based media buys have led marketers to re-consider the value of contextual media placements.

“The role of content and context is pivotal,” Stone said, citing a scenario in which an advertiser is mindful of brand safety and wants to ensure its messaging doesn’t appear next to objectionable content. Horizon is evaluating measurement of contextual private marketplaces (PMPs) that have a curated selection of media outlets, he said.

Inroads for Smart TV Makers

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas offered original equipment makers (OEMs) of smart TVs another chance to showcase their advertising platforms. The companies promise the ability to deliver highly personalized ads to viewers, and to measure which ads appear on screen using automated content recognition (ACR).

“The OEMs are primed to make big inroads in the upcoming years,” Stone said. “A lot of them have links to ACR data, and they’re able to make informed decisions on who to serve impressions to, and how to serve impressions.”

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