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Smart ratings research amid shifting audiences.

Use Ratings Research to Rise Above Viewership Waves

April 4th, 2017   ||    by Monta Monaco Hernon   ||    No Comments

With even more choice available in programming and content, broadcast news as a whole is suffering from lower ratings. Individual news shows, however, can still pull in a large audience on any given night. This fluctuation makes things interesting for advertisers accustomed to basing buys on viewership. But while fractured audiences complicate ratings research, they also bring the benefits of automated TV buying into an even brighter light.

Who’s Watching What?

For the week of January 23, ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS’s Evening News, and NBC’s Nightly News combined were down 503,000 viewers compared to the same week (beginning January 25) in 2016, according to TVNewser. By February 13, there were approximately 1 million fewer viewers from the year prior, and by February 27, equivalent losses grew to 1.6 million.

The article notes that the drops could be attributed in part to rising interest in the constant political coverage offered by cable news channels after last year’s elections. Several popular cable shows have seen increases, offering evidence for this theory. Brett Baier’s Special Report on Fox News gained 247,000 viewers in a year-over-year comparison of the last week in February, while MSNBC’s For the Record, with Greta Van Susteren, added 217,000 viewers compared to the same week last year.

While weekly ABC, NBC, and CBS newscasts saw declines, PBS NewsHour’s coverage of the election and its aftermath earned it an 11 percent increase in February compared to the same month last year, according to TVNewser. Execs at the show attribute its success to an audience that craves “news without the noise” and prefers to be presented with the facts before making its own decisions.

Likewise, NBC’s Nightly News Sunday with Kate Snow recently had its strongest night in two years. On March 5, the show pulled in the largest audience of any newscast over the entire weekend, TVNewser said. More than 7 million viewers tuned in, with a little over 1.5 million in the 25-54 age demo. This was a two-year high for the program—and a solid showing for broadcast TV.

Add Data—and Fast

These ratings roller coasters can be disconcerting for advertisers—but they don’t have to be. With the amount of data available today, ratings research can move beyond a simple numbers watch. Automated TV buying provides analysis of data drawn from a variety of sources, making actionable data that lets advertisers make informed decisions about where to place their commercials.

Data-driven buys help narrow down a consumer audience to those likely to be the most receptive to a particular line of messaging. Brands can then use their creative talents to hone in on the specific interests of viewers and can tinker with their messages based on where those messages will appear. Though these changes might seem sudden, automated TV platforms are able to automate workflow processes that often stymie agility, making for quicker and better-informed buys.

Advertisers want to pay attention to ratings—but they don’t want to spend all their time chasing ratings around. Automated TV buying helps brands keep their audiences in sight and their messages relevant.

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