Nielsen’s Impressionist Portrait: Broadband-only Home Integration

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Under pressure from the VAB and the Media Rating Council (MRC), Nielsen on Tuesday morning revealed that it will now “take the lead” on an “Impressions First Initiative” designed to support an industry-wide move to impressions-based buying and selling in local markets across the country.


The move to impressions will occur in conjunction with the integration of broadband only homes (BBO) into Nielsen’s local measurement metrics in January 2022.

The move to an impressions-based currency will, in Nielsen’s view, “deliver a more complete, precise and representative audience measurement, along with the added benefit of enabling cross-platform audience measurement.”

Citing today’s fragmented media landscape, Nielsen added that the move to impressions lays the groundwork for implementing Nielsen ONE across local, national, and digital measurement.

The inclusion of BBO homes, Nielsen notes, “will enable the industry to rapidly transition to trading on impressions. Impressions represent all viewers regardless of platform—which is especially important given the significant and growing penetration of BBO homes in local markets.”

Nielsen for more than two years has been working with the media and advertising industries in preparation for the inclusion of broadband-only homes in Local TV measurement for its 56 LPM and Set Meter markets.

“Nielsen is committed to measuring all audiences and the complete video consumption across the local marketplace,” Nielsen CEO David Kenny (pictured, top left), said in prepared remarks. “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.”

Giving its thumbs’ up and full support to Nielsen’s move is the No. 1 licensee of broadcast TV stations in the U.S., Nexstar Media Group.

“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 Nielsen Chairman/CEO Perry Sook. “It also enables buyers and sellers to make comparisons across all video across platforms, gives them the most complete view of audience consumption and behavior, and facilitates automated buying.”

Nexstar President of Broadcasting Andrew Alford added that the company’s sales teams “have been working toward the transition to selling impressions in coordination with a number of our largest clients, as it is the best way to make sure that no viewer goes uncounted.”

Alford expects Nexstar to be transacting on impressions exclusively in early 2022, “so Nielsen’s decision to implement an impressions-based measurement metric at the same time is a very welcome development.”

Another major broadcast TV customer of Nielsen, Hearst Television, also voiced its support. “Broadcasters have known for years that our content is being viewed inside and outside the home on many devices and services,” said Hearst President Jordan Wertlieb. “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.”

Concurrent with Nielsen’s support of an industry-wide move from ratings to impressions in January 2022, Nielsen will default its local reporting settings to impressions in its software systems (Arianna, NLTV, eVip) and will lead with impressions in all of its external communications. Ratings will remain available to end-users for planning purposes.

Nielsen, which had previously announced a BBO implementation date of October 2021, made the final decision to begin implementation in January 2022 in response to industry requests.

The new timing will enable Nielsen to publish an official BBO UE that will be audited and reviewed by the Media Rating Council (MRC).

In addition to delivering one month of impact data, a January implementation will include all BBO homes. Adding BBO homes will increase reporting sample sizes significantly and capture impressions that may be missing, especially for sports and OTT.

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