Dentsu, Comscore partnership set to boost local TV measurement with advanced analytics

Local television just received a major upgrade in measurement tools: Measurement service Comscore and agency holding company Dentsu unveiled a yearlong test of advanced analytics use in local investment that takes the medium far beyond outdated age and gender demographics — the equivalent these days of writing with stone and chisel. 

Dentsu signed up for Comscore’s local TV currency, which is based largely on set-top box input, and will use the data in buying and post-buy evaluation across its three media agencies: Carat, dentsuX and iProspect. Although it’s a supplemental currency feed, it could one day replace other data sources, said Jennifer Hungerbuhler, executive vp of local and audio investment at Dentsu Media U.S.

For years, the local TV business has labored in the shadow of national TV in attracting advertising dollars. This has largely been the result of less sophisticated measurement tools, along with the reality that, for national advertisers, it’s easier to buy nationally than stringing together regional buys for national reach (even though that can sometimes be less expensive). 

Applying Comscore’s currency to actual buys is slated to go live in January 2023, but has been tested in two of the top 10 local TV markets for the last year, said Hungerbuhler. “Because we are testing it is supplemental, but it does have the opportunity to supplant as we continue to grow with scale on our client base for using advanced audiences,” she said.

“This is an industry first, and a huge change for the local measurement market for advertising,” said Carol Hinnant, chief revenue officer at Comscore, who noted this will not only benefit the top 25 markets but will be felt down to the 100s in market size (TV markets are ranked in size of viewers, reaching down into the 200s).

“The value prop is that we’re just trying to make the luxury of choice in terms of if you want to transact on something beyond age and gender available to the local folks, much in the same way that it’s available on the national side and has been for many years,” added Kate Roganti, senior vp of commercial at Comscore. 

Hungerbuhler said two Dentsu clients have been involved in the testing, neither of which she would identify beyond noting their categories: retail and quick-serve restaurants.

“Historically, you know, our television buyers have been unable to reap the benefits of having advanced audiences and data driven buying,” she said. “With our partnership with Comscore, we can now take that audience that we’ve created in M1 [Dentsu’s internal data platform], and match it with Comscore’s set top box data to allow us to better understand what our target audiences’ viewing preferences are in the individual markets. Now we can start transacting on this — we’re going to be able to guarantee on this audience and buy and post against it.”

At the Television Bureau of Advertising’s annual Forward conference in New York on Thursday, TVB president Steve Lanzano interviewed GroupM’s executive director of U.S. investment strategy Adam Gerber, who agreed that the time is right for local TV to catch up to a much more complex media marketplace if it’s going to remain competitive. 

“Measurement is a huge issue for our clients, especially as they move from historical models where they’re focused on intrusive ad models (about exposure and reach) and increasingly move to models where it’s about outcomes and accountability,” Gerber told Lanzano. “There’s a lot of work that we need to do as an industry to help navigate that sea change, that has huge impacts for us as agencies. Because all the tools that we used back in the day haven’t changed — planning tools that we use to forecast what’s happening, and the actual activation tools we use to steward deals and manage buys. Those aren’t going to work in the new world, because of the way that things are moving to a much more impression-based dynamic insertion type of model.”

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