Forrester TV Report: Audience Composition, Data Will Overshadow The Rating

PlansTVLinear TV as a distribution channel is splintering and the impact will be most felt in planning and buying around audience, said Forrester analyst and report author Jim Nail.

In a survey of 3,166 adults in the Forrester report “Making Sense Of New Video Consumption,” released Friday, it’s estimated that only 46% of TV viewers ages 18-58 consume linear TV.

Online and mobile playback options have altered TV consumption patterns most prominently – and viewing across these channels is generally consistent across different demographics. For instance, 37% of millennials replay their favorite shows and sports highlights as short-form videos, as do 30% of consumers aged 35 to 58.

At the same time, audiences prefer watching different types of content depending on the channel.

For instance, about three-quarters of viewers preferred watching full-length episodes of current programs and news/sports on the standard TV screen, whereas 57% of viewers preferred desktop to watch short-form video, and 45% of viewers preferred desktop to watch news and sports clips.

There isn’t a single dominant media source millennials gravitate toward, since 55% percent of individuals aged 18-34 still view four or more hours each week on TV. This finding doesn’t entirely nullify the concept of millennial cord-cutting, but Forrester likens TV consumption among younger demos to snacking on “smaller portions of a wider array of dishes.”

“There is clearly this trend toward watching on the network’s app, the MVPD’s [Multichannel Video Programming Distributor] app and Hulu, but clearly the content is still powerful and it still draws audience advertisers want to buy,” Nail said.

“It is trickling into agency thinking. They know they need to look beyond age-gender demos and look at new data sources, even if they’re still buying ads in pods on ratings.”

For instance, advertisers are beginning to prioritize shows based on viewers’ tendency to buy certain products or brands. If a show’s audience tends to prefer margarine over butter, then a manufacturer like Parkay, Nail pointed out, might not care as much about that show’s Nielsen rating.

This is why additional data sets like purchase-level insights are increasingly attractive. A standard GRP alone doesn’t cut it anymore with multiplatform planning and buying.

“From the industry perspective, you’re no longer selling ratings,” Nail said. “You’re selling individuals and the right individual is going to be worth a lot more than $10 or $15 dollars a thousand to the right advertiser.”

From an execution standpoint, Nail said this will result in a plethora of new formats, like pre-roll pods with two or three advertisements or brands sponsoring streamed episodes.

This echoes a sentiment from BBDO ATL’s President and CEO Drew Panayiotou during the “Video Everywhere” panel at the Industry Preview conference. The industry, he said, is “moving away from reserving media in one format.” This includes shifting beyond reserving traditional TV in an upfront buy.

“In our own media sales and working with publishers … I approach it with certainty that ad loads are going to change,” said Scott Rosenberg, VP of business development at Roku, during the same panel. “The 30-second spot is a great spot, but it will be shorter and more interactive.”


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