The Association of Commercial Television


New research from Kantar uncovers how people’s media habits, attitudes and expectations can guide brands’ strategy during the Coronavirus pandemic in order to remain afloat now and to bounce back once the worst has passed.

The findings detailed in the first instalment of the research company’s COVID-19 Barometer, are based on a survey of more than 25,000 people across 30 markets between the 14th and 23rd March. Due to the time it takes to put together research and the speed of the virus’ spread, at the point of analysis there were 200,000 cases worldwide (there are now well over 400,000).

Markets are categorised as:

  • Early – few cases, limited social distancing policies in place
  • Mid – community transmission with social distancing measures in place
  • Late – Significant cases and deaths with full lockdown in place

At time of analysis, Italy and China were the only countries examined in the late stage.

What brands need to do:

  • Look after your employees and help national/global efforts where possible. Globally, 78% expect companies to worry about their employees’ health, and to favour flexible working, followed by 62% saying staff should be able to work flexibly.

    Elsewhere, supporting hospitals (41%) and being helpful to government (35%) is an expectation of significant minority of consumers.
  • Continue advertising for the long-term. Just 8% of consumers expect brands to cut advertising, so there’s little risk of it being read as insensitive. The risks of going dark by cutting back costs radically can be huge in the long-term, even if there is little short-term effect, according to longstanding Kantar figures. 

What’s more, it matters for recovery. According to a Kantar/BrandZ analysis of brands following the 2008 economic crisis, strong brands recover nine times faster than the S&P 500 standard.

  • What consumers want brands to do during the crisis: help them. Top three comms strategies among consumers include talking about how the brand is helpful in the new everyday (77%), keeping them informed about the brand’s reaction to the new situation (75%), offering a reassuring tone (70%)
  • What not to do. It is a tricky line to walk, however, as 75% of respondents agreed brand should not “exploit” the COVID-19 situation to promote the brand. Forty percent of the sample believes brands should avoid humour.

The media picture

Unsurprisingly, media use grows across all countries as they move deeper into the pandemic and more people stay home. Under lockdown, web browsing grows 70%, linear TV viewing increases 63%, and social media 61%.

In terms of gathering information, people across the world exhibit relatively low trust in the sources available to them. Just over half of people worldwide (52%) identify national news media as a “trustworthy” source. But just 48% say the same of government agency websites.

At an app level, Facebook-owned Whatsapp has seen the greatest gains at 40% overall, but usage differs by stage versus typical usage:

  • Early: 27% up
  • Mid: 41% up
  • Late: 51%

In China, social apps WeChat and Weibo saw a 58% increase. Meanwhile, now locked-down Spain saw a 76% increase in Whatsapp use even in the mid stage.

The Kantar figures hint at the sore spot in which Facebook finds itself. Despite its own finding that time spent on all its apps is up 70%, and Kantar putting usage of Whatsapp, Facebook, and Instagram up 40% among under-35s, much of that digital attention is going to be tough to monetise as brands cut digital spend. Meanwhile, those apps’ running costs and extra capacity will weigh heavy on the company.



TV advertising has an important role to play in keeping commerce going through the coronavirus crisis.

When people’s livelihoods are threatened and we all fear for the people we love, everything else can feel a little beside the point, a bit trivial.

So I have to keep reminding myself that there is a point. That life goes on. We can’t all stop and dwell. “The best way out is always through,” Robert Frost said. 

I look at the incredible response from the team at Thinkbox, atomised like so many teams for the time being but adapting and pushing forward, and I watch as stories of solidarity and collective effort from around the world come through, and I am reassured.

This is a time when we are so much more aware and hopefully far more appreciative of society’s key workers. The NHS staff, care workers, delivery drivers, police, the people keeping our supermarkets going, to name just a handful.

There is a long list of people to be grateful to and I would add our broadcasters to it. They are being fleet of foot, keeping our shows on and keeping us informed and entertained. 

Witness the record audience for ITV’s Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway at the weekend, recreated without its studio audience. Look at Channel 4’s Jamie: Keep Cooking and Carry On, a new show to help people cook during self-isolation. Millions are glued to Sky News as a trusted source.

Broadcasters are making the tough choices of putting some shows on hold, quickly changing formats and reducing the output of certain shows, even while large chunks of content and revenue – like sport – disappear from the schedules.

TV journalists are rightly on the government’s key workers list.

As society becomes temporarily withdrawn, TV is there for us all as a source of trusted information and much-needed distraction.

TV is and always has been a social glue. It brings us together. It comforts and connects. It also lets us escape. It is a faint professional silver lining at the moment.

During times of crisis, we always turn to trusted media. But our media habits in this crisis are being more directly affected because we’re being forced to spend more time in our homes and less time outside and commuting. This means media consumed at home will see increased consumption.

Rediscovering the value of TV

We are already seeing a dramatic effect on TV viewing, which grew by 17% year on year last week, having been tracking down about 4% this year. So, people watched an average of 28 minutes more a day. 

Daytime average TV audiences have grown 29% and daily reach has increased by 18%. Viewing among children has grown by 20% (and this was before the schools were closed). Monday’s prime ministerial address to the nation was watched by 27 million people on TV.

Media consumption and the impact of advertising are linked. So the crisis is also having an impact on advertising; it is changing how advertising should – or, in fact, can – be approached.

Thinkbox’s role is to help advertisers, to offer the best advice through uncertain times. And when we do get through the current uncertain times, it will be vital that businesses are in as strong a position as possible to help rebuild our economy. 

Those businesses are of course under immense pressure, which inevitably puts pressure on their advertising budgets. 

Some sectors will be affected more – travel is the obvious example. Some, though, will likely see a surge of interest because their products and services will be vital in this period. 

There can scarcely be a better time to be an online retailer, for example. Home entertainment, too, has never been more central to our lives. Disney+ is launching at a good time, if this time can ever be described as good.

As some advertisers, like travel, have little choice but to reduce their TV spend and TV viewing shoots up, the average price for a TV spot will come down (in TV terms, this means demand is down and supply is up).

The impact of this for advertisers is that TV advertising pricing will offer ridiculous value over the next couple of months.

This presents an opportunity to brands that can earn market share growth through well-established marketing mechanics such as extra share of voice. 

For every 10% points of extra share of voice (a brand with 10% market share but 20% share of voice will have 10% points extra share of voice) on average, you will earn 0.5% market share growth, according to Les Binet and Peter Field. 

Going after this growth is not mercenary panic-buying; it would be a sensible business decision that would not only offer competitive advantage, but fuel the economy (and, obviously, fund TV shows).

Now is the time to back up your brands. For most, there is little point in a focus on sales activation at this point with the world in retreat. But when we emerge, brands that maintained or built will be much stronger for it.

It may feel weird to be talking about opportunities at a time like this, but it is weirder still to ignore them. The worst thing to do would be to grind everything to a halt.

We must engage with the real world and its future still. And advertising has an important role to play in keeping commerce going.

Not all advertisers will be able to take advantage of the value on offer but, for those that can, competing via advertising is an important way through this and out the other side.

Lindsey Clay is chief executive of Thinkbox



The COVID-19 outbreak is a global health crisis that has upended our daily lives. With millions confined at home, agencies, clients, and the media industry as a whole will experience unknown pressures. In the world of media planning and buying, that will lead to focusing investments and partnerships on meaningful media. By creating purposeful content, or sometimes, simply financially supporting media brands that are taking the right action themselves. These are the moments when media really matters.

So, what’s the role of media within this new dynamic? With social interactions on a hiatus, media is the core tenet of our social bonds. We need to investigate the evolution of the media landscape in two steps: short-term decisions and innovations the industry made to adapt, alleviate, and support immediate needs, and later, when the dust settles, diving into the long-term changes in consumer behaviors and industry practices.

Moments like this prove that not all media are created equal and some media brands can make a genuine, meaningful difference through three missions: inform, entertain, and connect.

The informative: Some media brands have really taken the spread of the coronavirus to be the purveyor of sense and calm that the world needs. Now more than ever, to inform the population is media’s public service duty. Despite the economic factors they face, news providers are dropping their paywalls—The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, in the US to name a few. To counteract fake news, rumors, and despicable acts like hackers creating fake coronavirus maps to infect users with malware, trust in media is the strongest guardrail. Facebook is directing users looking for information to the WHO or local health authorities and prohibiting ads related to the coronavirus to curb scaremongering as well as prevent dishonest businesses from profiteering from the outbreak.

The entertaining: Some media heavyweights are upending current business models. For example, NBCUniversal will make its theatrical releases available to rent. We will investigate over the next few weeks the long-lasting impact of such decisions. Across the industry, meaningful initiatives are happening. Organizations such as the Seattle Symphony Orchestra plans to rebroadcast earlier performances and livestream new performances. TikTok challenges of handwashing dances are going viral. Italian’s TV broadcaster RAI is helping families stuck at home by significantly increasing the amount of kids and teens shows. And it’s hard to deny that by offering free premium service in Italy to ease coronavirus pains, Pornhub is being meaningful to many.

The useful: Video-conferencing companies are facilitating use by offering free services and free access to upgrades, starting with Google unlocking premium features of Hangouts Meets. Amazon Web Services has given access to its cloud computing to (AWS) to Italian companies, nonprofits and government agencies.

It is difficult to categorize every single initiative. And more are being launched by the hour. And some are just about giving everyone a much-needed laugh like the Australian newspaper NY News printing extra pages to help out in toilet paper shortage.

Media brands around the world are stepping up. But what comes next? With contestants on the current German edition of Big Brother unaware of the situation until a few days ago, The Truman Show doesn’t feel that far-fetched anymore. Media creation could change, live entertainment might never be the same, consumer behaviors will evolve and business models will be rethought. Our next task is to look at the long-term media implications and help brands navigate the new paradigm.

Thomas Minc is global managing director, intelligence & strategy, at Havas Media Group



Time spent in front of a TV screen has increased on average by 45 minutes per day, TV news rating has even doubled. 

Since 10 March when the Government prohibited all cultural, sports and social events attended by more than 100 people due to the coronavirus pandemic and declared that schools would be closed starting from the following day, the Czech data has shown a rapid growth in daily TV rating.

Further tightening of government measures has recently contributed to an increase in rating of 45 minutes per day (compared to previous weeks) in the 4+ target group. In the recent seven days, the rating has been even higher than in February 2018 when the Winter Olympic Games were held. This is revealed by ATO’s data supplied by Nielsen Admosphere.

Daily Total TV ATS (h:mm), target group 4+

Source: ATO – Nielsen Admosphere, live + TS0-3, calculated on 20 March 2020

Rating of the news has grown significantly. The increase is noticeable in the main news programmes of all major TV stations and continuous news broadcast. In the past seven days, an average Czech above 15 years who owns a functioning TV set watched on average 67 minutes of news programmes on TV per day, which is more than double compared to the regular situation.

In the last ten years, only the results of elections to the Chamber of Deputies (26 October 2013 and 21 October 2017), the presidential elections in January 2013 and 2018, floods in early June 2013 and Václav Havel’s funeral (23 December 2011) drew the same attention to TV news.

Total TV rating in %, target group: pupils, students and apprentices

5 business days before school closing

5 business days after school closing

Source: ATO – Nielsen Admosphere, live + TS0+3, calculated on 20 March 2020

Rating of young viewers, such as pupils, students and apprentices who are home from schools due to the Government regulation effective as of 11 March, has increased. In the Czech population, there are 1.6 of these individuals. The graph above compares this group’s rating curves (% of people watching TV in a given time) showing the average for the last five business days before school closing and for the following five days after the closing. A dramatic increase is apparent namely in the usual time of school attendance between 8 am and 3 pm and also late in the evening because there is no need to get up early next morning. This is also the reason why rating around 7 am has decreased.



The increase in time we dedicate to media relates to the expansion of electronic devices in population, shows Nielsen Admosphere’s data.

The average daily time Czechs spend with media grew to 7 hours and 14 minutes last year, which is a 14-minute increase year-on-year. Total media time includes media multitasking (such as browsing the Internet while watching TV). This is the outcome of Nielsen Admosphere’s data presented by Hana Friedlaenderová at the New Media Inspiration 2020 conference held on Saturday.

Most of the above-mentioned daily time still relates to watching TV, which is followed by media consumption on devices such as PCs, mobile phones and tablets. The third place in terms of time spent is taken by radio and five percent of our daily media time is devoted to print media.

The increasing penetration of electronic devices in the Czech population, namely the growth in smartphones, smart TVs and IPTV (owned by about a third of households) results in the increased time-shifted viewing. Last year, it accounted for 14:21 minutes par day on overage, which is 6% of the total TV rating. Despite the increase in time-shifted viewing, the overwhelming majority of TV is watched live.  

Average time spent watching TV was 3 hours and 43 minutes per day last year (comparable to 3:46 hours in 2018, 15+). TV is still watched by 93% of Czech households.

According to Nielsen Atmosphere’s data, the rise of paid streaming services has not been reflected in any increased demand of Czech households for paid services. Last year, they were used by 3.5% of households, with the most popular services prepaid by the Czechs being Netflix (1.7%) and HBO Go (1.4 %). 

YouTube (48%) is the most frequently watched unpaid web providing video content.  

Nielsen Admosphere’s data also shows that news are watched predominantly on TV (64% of households) and on the Internet (60%). 43% of Czech households watch news on their mobile phones. The TOP news sources include: Seznam Zprávy, TV Nova,, ČT1 and iDnes.czFacebook is the sixth most frequently used news source in the Czech Republic.

Top 20 Daily Most Frequently Used News Sources

Print newspapers – Radio stations – TV stations – Web

Source: Nielsen Admosphere, presentation at the NMI 2020 conference



Even though the range of services and devices for watching TV has proliferated in recent years, broadcast networks and advertisers should be aware that most viewers don’t care about the technology provided they get to watch what they want.

About three-quarters (74%) of global TV viewers, rising to 76% of Australians, feel this way, leading a senior executive at ViacomCBS to advise that viewers think of TV as content rather than the number and proliferation of the tools to access it.

That is according to Christian Kurz, SVP of global insights at ViacomCBS, who spoke to AdNews as he prepared to present research findings at last week’s Future of TV Advertising Forum in Sydney.

The study, called Today’s TV, polled 10,000 consumers in ten countries – Argentina, Australia, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Thailand, the UK and US – and concluded that viewers love TV, but want a simpler experience.

“[The research] has demonstrated how TV (defined as TV shows and movies) fulfils three primary needs: it indulges viewers, it brings the family together, and it opens our minds by raising the visibility of previously untold stories,” Kurz said.

Australian audiences appear especially strongly attached to their TV with 84% regarding TV as part of their daily lives compared to the global average of 69%.

Some 83% of Australians say TV is an important source of entertainment (versus 70% globally), another 83% are excited by the options to watch (versus 77% globally), while 88% find TV to be a source of comfort (versus 66% globally).

However, 79% of Australians wish it was easier to find TV shows and movies, while 85% say they would like to access all their TV content through just one service.

“Searching for content is time-consuming and frustrating – especially on VOD services. Viewers yearn for simplicity, with 80% saying they wish they were able to access all their TV content through one service and 77% wishing it were easier to find the TV shows and movies they love,” said Kurz, who cited the global figures.

“In short, people love TV as much as ever, but with so much great content it’s stressful to decide what to watch,” he added. “To improve their viewing experience, give them the ease and seamlessness they crave. This applies to advertising as much as programming.”



The TV viewing experience has been changing drastically in the last years, especially with the rise of streaming services and all new devices for accessing them. The way audiences consume TV daily is constantly evolving. Therefore, there is a rising need for most recent figures that precisely show people’s viewing behaviour.

This week’s egtabite puts the spotlight on a project conducted by ViacomCBS in collaboration with the Global TV Group.

A closer look

The project, aiming to shed light on how and why global audiences watch TV, involved 10,000 respondents aged 13-54 from 10 different countries (Australia, Argentina, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Thailand, UK and US) through 60+ hours of filmed footage. Using GoPro cameras, in-home ethnographies and online surveys, ViacomCBS got to see how consumers are watching TV today.

Global Consumer Insights

The main insights of this extensive research unanimously prove the undeniable power of TV.

First, people all over the world love TV more than ever before, as it remains central to their lives. TV is big and nuanced enough to have something for everyone. It is perceived as a companion, a unifier, and a source of inspiration. One of the respondents from Germany said: “For me, TV is a great way to be inspired and entertained.” While 69% of respondents feel that TV is an inevitable part of their daily lives, 70% say it’s an important source of entertainment.

Also, TV is bigger and better than before, in terms of content rather than devices or platforms that have been proliferating in the last years. 62% of all the respondents define TV as “TV shows and movies”. They perceive TV as content and not as the tools they use to get their shows and movies.

Third, people use TV to reduce stress and unwind after a tiring day. However, the amount of content that is available to viewers is overwhelming. Searching for content is time-consuming and frustrating, especially on VOD services. Therefore, audiences are seeking out viewing experiences that are easy and seamless, allowing them instant access to the content they love. If that is not the case, the viewers are turning to watching movies or shows that they are familiar with. The respondents admit that they occasionally turn to linear TV as a way of simplifying their choices.

TV indulges us, brings us together and broadens our horizons

The project proved that some viewing habits have remained the same. Despite a changing TV landscape, well-established needs continue to be served by TV.

TV still indulges us today, giving us a break from our busy lives and satisfying our need to unwind. It serves as a wonderful escape that lets the viewers get their “me time”.

Apart from offering a relaxing solo time, TV serves as a strong social connector, bringing audiences closer to each other. People prefer to spend quality time together with their close friends and families while watching TV, cooking and chatting. The most popular place for gathering remains a living room with a big TV.

Also, TV serves as a great mind opener. People are watching shows from all over the world, featuring different cultures which expand their views. TV allows them to learn new things and have a fresh perspective. One of the respondents said: “You feel like you are sitting and not doing anything when in fact you are exploring the world and going on a journey.”

Our research proves that we are living in TV’s Golden (or even Platinum) Age. TV is no longer limited to one screen at home – Today’s TV is a concept for consumers and tomorrow’s TV will be more important than ever,” says Christian Kurz, Senior Vice President, Global Consumer Insights, ViacomCBS. “The research shows that while TV continues to satisfy many crucial needs, such as personal indulgence, togetherness and broadening perspectives, consumers are increasingly craving ease and seamlessness in their viewing experiences.”

We Love TV

Finally, the ViacomCBS/Global TV Group project showed that TV today is loved more than ever, it is bigger and better than ever and also more complex. Whether we are viewing TV as a social ritual, getting out of our heads for a while, or expanding our mind, it remains the best way to relax and unwind in today’s complex world.



If you’re like me, then your LinkedIn feed has been all about the resurgence of branding and traditional media recently. Companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google began 2020 with Super Bowl ads. Executives from adidas admit having prioritized activation over branding, saying they were focused on the wrong metrics because of their responsibility to shareholders. Lately, even experts who believe most strongly in the importance of results-driven advertising have been acknowledging the critical importance of brand building to long-term success.

Some, though, have been “team branding” all along. For Marci Cohen, vice president of market insights at Spectrum Reach, the advertising sales division of Charter Communications, brand-building is step one in any successful advertising campaign. “Advertisers need to be part of the consideration set to be purchased,” Cohen says. “Advertising builds trust and awareness and desire. Over recent years, there’s been so much noise, so many ‘shiny things’ for advertisers to consider, that it was easy for some companies to just focus … on media towards the bottom of the marketing funnel. That’s changing.”

Cohen, who leads a team of more than 40 research experts across the country —advising on both traditional and advanced advertising — recently helped develop a campaign and whitepaper aimed at educating local advertisers about what national advertisers already know: When it comes to brand building, television in all its forms is vital. “Every single person uses media differently,” she says. “But, between the amount of time consumers spend with television, television’s broad reach and brand-safe and fraud-free premium environment, and the impact of TV creative on the big screen where most people watch, TV does unparalleled things for businesses of all sizes.”

Those benefits, she says, make the activation side of advertising more effective. Consider direct-to-consumer advertisers such as UNTUCKit and Wayfair, which have also begun investing heavily in traditional media, producing what the Video Advertising Bureau calls “short- and long-term success.”

Amy Bobchek, chief revenue officer of real-time advertising optimization platform Advocado agrees, comparing businesses that focus only on search engine advertising to a restaurant that advertises only in the back seat of taxicabs because most of its customers arrive that way. She says that not only is TV the number one way to build brands, but also “it boosts online ad effectiveness. People choose brands online that they’re familiar with offline.”

Results and branding are also important for Miriam Quart, president of agency Madison Avenue Consortium, known for its work with national beauty and packaged goods advertisers. I caught up with her as she was punching up the script for a TV commercial for a regional hospital. For her, the conversation about branding versus activation is about impact. “With so many ways to activate online, I’m seeing the pendulum swinging back to big ideas and the strategic planning and creative concepting that bring both parts — brand-building and executions, which are more sales-focused — together. There’s no divide between traditional media and digital anymore; it’s all just content and how it works best for the brand’s strategy.”

Even advertising consultant and speaker Tom Ray, who wrote Branding Is Out, Results Are In, asserts that branding is one of the most important elements of an advertising campaign. “It’s a myth that TV is just for branding, and that digital is for activation,” he says. “Traditional media, particularly television, can do both. If we allow advertisers to believe that it can’t and let them run only commercials that don’t give customers a real reason to buy, visit, or sign up for something, we’re doing them a disservice.”

Nicole Penn, president of EGC Group, whose clients include brands in automotive, education, healthcare, and retail, says that the balance between branding and activation depends on the marketer’s strategy. EGC worked on a campaign for an urgent care center in the Northeast last year, which had previously been focused completely on activation at the point of need — when people were making the decision to see a doctor — because the advertiser assumed that sick people would just choose the nearest center.

“Our hypothesis was that if customers understood value the brand offered — specially trained doctors, no wait times — they would be willing to drive a little further.” EGC kept the activation-focused search and social advertising, adding broadcast and cable television, including ads during sporting events. “The results,” Penn says, “were ‘ginormous.’ By the end of flu season, we had a client who understood that traditional media truly makes an impact on results and on the long-term value of the brand.”

Spectrum Reach’s Cohen says she expects more advertisers to be focused on branding and, in turn, television in 2020, even as companies selling traditional media offer advertisers more ways to measure advertising impact through platforms such as her company’s AudienceTrak. “Marketers do need to track sales performance — it’s not really an either/or,” she says. “They need both results and branding … but branding should come first.”



Recognizing that podcasts are a powerful companion to video, a growing number of linear and digital video services are creating podcasts that align with their audiences’ tastes. The podcasts cover everything from reality TV stars to history lessons to even iconic sci-fi shows, such as Battlestar Galactica.

In a sea of 800,000 podcasts, these video companies’ value proposition for brands and fans is their expertise: If they can parlay hit TV shows into companion podcasts, or use nuggets from TV to create podcasts that appeal to their loyal fans, they stand to grow their audience and generate incremental ad dollars.

“Podcasts bring advertising partners the ability to reach audiences in a refreshing and more personalized way that enables a different type of relationship with the consumer; for example, through host-read ads,” says Jason Baron, senior vice president of direct marketing for WarnerMedia ad sales.

As more Americans “cut the cord” and cancel their pay-TV service, cable and broadcast networks must find new avenues to engage audiences, promote their video content, and generate additional revenue — all while streaming services hunt to grow their subscriber counts.

Podcasting offers opportunities to hit all of those notes. As the podcast industry booms, one-quarter of Americans are listening to podcasts weekly, according to Edison Research. And advertisers are projected to spend $831 million in the space this year, per Magna’s latest estimates.

For those seeking a roadmap to leveraging podcasting, A+E Networks has charted a strong path. The company, which owns A&E and HISTORY Channel, ventured into the space several years ago, identifying hit shows that could be reimagined as podcasts or enhanced with a companion podcast. One example is A&E’s Cold Case Files podcast, now in its sixth season. The podcast takes audio from the TV show to create bonus content. Another podcast, PD Stories, is an extension of hit TV series Live PD and features the TV hosts sharing new stories exclusively for the podcast.

The podcast and programming teams now work closely together, notes Jessie Katz, A+E Networks’ director of audio programming and podcasting. “We’re connected at every step in the development process, considering what linear series could look like as a podcast, and vice versa,” she says. A+E owns content and the intellectual property rights to its shows, allowing for seamless development

Among video-based brands venturing into podcasting more recently, WarnerMedia Podcast Network is at the forefront. The AT&T-owned organization boasts a slate of original podcasts that reflect its networks, including Cartoon Network, CNN, HBO, HLN, TBS, TCM, TNT, and TruTV.

Examples of how they are aligning the networks’ expertise and fan interests include the new true-crime podcast from HLN, Down the Hill: the Delphi Murders, an investigation into an unsolved murder mystery, and TCM’s The Plot Thickens, about the life and work of director Peter Bogdanovich. On the lighter side, WarnerMedia recently debuted Give Them Lala…and Randall, a talk-show style weekly podcast featuring reality TV star Lala Kent and her fiancée, Randall Emmett, dishing on fashion, lifestyle, and social issues.

Sister sales division, Xandr, has also recently made a foray into B2B podcasts.

One challenge for video companies is getting comfortable with podcast measurement — or the lack thereof. In podcasting, there aren’t third-party ratings that linear networks and their advertisers use as currency for media buys. Publishers can see some basic information on downloads and generic demographics, or subscribe to custom studies, such as Nielsen’s new Podcast Listener Buying Power service.

Audience reaction can be a guide. When A+E’s HISTORY This Week podcast launched, within just two weeks it reached the number one ranking among history podcasts in the Apple podcast app. With that rapid ascent, “we know we’re on the right track,” Katz says.

Looking for similar hits, other video providers are doubling down. NBCUniversal’s SYFY channel — which uses its SYFY Wire website to distribute podcasts — has been rolling out an aggressive slate of new podcasts. These include the weekly show Battlestar Galacticast, which revisits episodes of the classic series, and Forgotten Women of Genre, spotlighting women’s contributions to the science fiction world.

Also, at NBCUniversal, the Universal Content Productions is launching the UCP Audio network to create original podcasts, kicking off with The End Up, a scripted series about a retreat for cancer patients seeking to end their lives, as well as a pair of unscripted true-crime shows.

Discovery Networks has said it will add podcasts to augment video on its forthcoming streaming platform. And AMC Networks is building its audio catalog, particularly with true-crime and investigative podcasts for Sundance Channel.

While TV shows require extensive planning and costly production, podcasting allows producers to be nimble and stretch their dollars, UCP President Dawn Olmstead has said. She estimated that it’s possible to produce a six- to eight-episode podcast for the same price as a moderate to highly-priced spec script.

“You don’t have to build sets, you don’t have to wait for availability for actors; you can literally write it that night and be in the audio booth the next day,” Olmstead says.

To meet increasing demand from Hispanic listeners, Univision is adding news and entertainment-themed Spanish-language podcasts, including a new podcast to peek behind the curtain of the Premios Lo Nuestro Spanish-language music awards show. Premio Lo Nuestro Podcast features behind-the-scenes interviews and soundbites, and is the first of several podcasts Univision plans to add this year to accompany its high-profile, tentpole TV events.

ABC, CBS, and NBC are adding podcasts at varying degrees, particularly from their news divisions. Even streaming video services are in the mix, with Netflix planning a slate of original podcasts and Apple reportedly developing podcasts to support its new Apple+ original shows.

However, as new podcasts flood the market daily, video services are a little late to the podcast space, and it may take some time to find an audience. To generate buzz, TV and streaming video services can lean on their ability to cross-promote across digital, linear, and social media channels. Also, their seasoned sales teams can leverage established relationships with brand advertisers, bundling audio with existing ad packages or offering it up as an experimental product.

Plus, video loyalists are already showing a willingness to turn their favorite networks into digital audio, notes Trevor Fellows, executive vice president, digital sales & strategy, NBCUniversal. “As we’ve expanded our brands beyond the TV screen and into the world of podcasting,” he says, “we’ve seen their avid fandoms follow — proving the power of a great story to inspire and engage consumers, as well as drive real results for marketers.”



In an era of connected TV, direct-to-consumer streaming, and the bewildering consumption habits of Generation Z, TV measurement faces dramatic change. No available currency today can independently cover the increasingly diverse and fragmented ecosystem of multiplatform video distribution. Attempts to assess the value, depth and reach of a viewing instance against a common denominator will suffer greater inaccuracies from poor integration of new platforms and models.

Due to growing fragmentation, the single currency model has been broken. New measurement upstarts claim to more effectively measure disconnected viewing habits for the majority of audiences watching video across multiple devices and services.

For Nielsen, the historically dominant TV ratings leader, the cracks are coming apart. Ad buyers and sellers want to connect the dots for holistic audience measurement with a depth of insight into demographics that goes beyond the scope of a single measurement panel. While Nielsen invests in integrated measurement capabilities for digital video to retain its dominance, new contenders to the throne knock at its door.

In the good old days of linear TV, brand marketers could run a TV campaign relying on industry stalwarts like Nielsen for a single integrated report on reach and frequency. Today, a plethora of viewing information is available from measurement providers, including YouTube, Facebook, Google, Comscore, Inscape, 605, Roku, and a raft of new upstarts.

In the age of digital, advertisers have developed an appetite for deeper audience segmentation and insights that go far beyond age and gender. These capabilities require more data points than traditional models provide.

This tsunami of data sources, driven by fragmentation in the media space, has had a critical impact on measurement. Five years ago, Nielsen offered unduplicated reach between different elements in a TV campaign to identify desirable audience segments on the local and national level. Nowadays, it’s tough to define and calibrate ad buys, based on whether addressable inventories are being duplicated for audiences that include linear TV in their multiscreen/cross-platform mix, let alone digital.

Further, new video distribution models and even the TV sets a majority of audiences own offer more potential for measurement than previous linear TV hardware. CTV and OTT video are making this worse.

eMarketer estimates that in 2019, nearly 60% of Americans were watching CTV, and over 70% were watching digital video. It’s no surprise that Nielsen’s business is suffering. With increasing fragmentation across distribution, audience viewing habits, ad inventories and capabilities for measurement and targeting — if it can only measure a small fraction of ads outside its mainstay of traditional linear TV, who will?

Comscore, formerly Rentrak, has been attempting to reach Nielsen market share for years with its set-top-box data, but historically had the same blind spots as Nielsen. The Inscape ACR dataset is providing census-level measurement of ad detection (excluding Hulu and Amazon Prime) on Vizio set- top-boxes. Companies like 605 and Comscore are now looking to integrate these datasets into set-top-box data to provide a more comprehensive view — not just linear and time-shifted ads, but also CTV and addressable.

But digital — YouTube and Facebook in particular — often takes flak for not being open with data. They might cite privacy concerns for this now, but it’s no strange coincidence that their initial walled gardens, with limited access to specific data, meant they set the rules by which they are measured. Brands have subsequently had to focus efforts on trying to connect the dots themselves to measure how digital video ads translate into real business outcomes.

Digital doesn’t always have to be a black box; we can trust that Disney knows every single impression running on Disney+. With Discovery’s recent announcement that it is licensing Inscape data directly, we can see the beginning of a trend where programming groups are taking these datasets in-house, where they can match instantly with the clickstream data from their direct-to-consumer services.

With so many parts of the industry rushing to build their measurement solutions, who can rebuild Nielsen? It’s ironic that rather than encouraging Google and Facebook to open up data, the TV industry has started to embrace the same outcomes-based attribution approach. It’s possible that Nielsen — or another player (LiveRamp recently paid $150 million for an early stage business in this space) — will become the new TV currency.

Nielsen is taking steps to adjust, recently working with Amobee to leverage its national TV panel and ACR data to expand the company’s cross-platform measurement to four screens.  If buyers can believe these attribution models could tie ad spend to outcomes, we may start to see investment switch from the unmeasured media of Facebook and Google.

Attribution will become the new currency. For Nielsen, only time will tell whether it fully embraces the broader opportunity or retreats to the core age and demo measurement of linear TV advertising.

If I owned Nielsen shares, I know which option I’d prefer.


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