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Education Ramps Up As Radio Slowly Transitions To Impressions.

The Southern California Broadcasters Association and Nielsen are working together to educate radio buyers and sellers about the transition to transacting business based on impressions as the move away from ratings points gathers steam across the industry. During a pair of recent webinars, executives from both organizations presented the results of a new study from Nielsen showing the advantages of doing business this way.

The webinars were intended as a training tool to help salespeople understand how impressions are different from ratings and how to make the conversion, while also preserving radio’s value in the transition.

“The feedback from the members has been very positive,” SCBA President Miles Sexton told Inside Radio. “They find it to be very helpful and are looking forward to using it with their clients.”

Impressions flips the currency from the percentage of the population reached by an ad campaign (rating points) to the projected number of viewers or listeners reached.

One of the goals of the webinars and companion materials being made available to SCBA members and their clients is to show how making the shift can result in a more informed and accurate buy. According to a Nielsen study, impressions-based buying offers increased granularity over traditional ratings. In the Los Angeles market for example, AQH ratings show five stations tied at the top of the 25-54 demo with a 0.3 rating point and nine stations tied for second place with a 0.2.But an impressions-based table shows stations more spread out in the ranker since impressions rely on the more granular average quarter hour metric.

The study also found that buying radio based on impressions adds value to more dayparts. Dayparts without a large enough audience to equal a rating point still have a significant amount of impressions, which can be monetized. “By including those, you should be able to extend the reach of your schedule, because you're opening it up,” Sexton says. “And you can also price it more effectively for people as opposed to just buying your prime rated dayparts.”

Another selling point is that buying on cost per thousand impressions (CPM) levels the playing field in such a way that supply and demand determine pricing rather than market size. When transacting on ratings points, cost per points are naturally higher in large markets because they represent a percentage of a larger pie than in smaller markets. But impressions level the playing field. “Its supply and demand in a market environment, rather than a pre-established cost per rating point,” Sexton says. Moreover, impressions provide easier comparisons across markets.

The webinar included a conversion table for Los Angeles, showing how to make the conversion from Cost Per Point (CPP) to CPM using a Katz Radio Group CPM calculator.

Another benefit being touted is how impressions can be used for buyers to combine radio and digital advertising more effectively. With 10% of radio impression already taking place digitally via online simulcasts, advertisers are already buying impressions when they buy radio across broadcast and online platforms. As buyers look to buy media more holistically, impressions can help simplify the process by using an apples-to-apples metric.

Using Nielsen Local Media Impact, SCBA and Nielsen showed webinar attendees that a cross-platform campaign where half the impressions came from radio and half from social media delivered 60% more reach for the campaign than a 100% social media campaign – at no additional cost. “Using radio with digital is like strapping a booster rocket on your digital campaign,” Sexton says.

The Nielsen-SCBA study also recommends best practices for converting to CPM for radio buyers and sellers. Among these recommendations are the importance of looking beyond price and evaluating other items that add value, focusing on quality over quantity, and looking for opportunities to combine radio and digital impressions for cross-platform opportunities.

The shift to buying on impressions is accelerating with 54% of agency professionals surveyed by Nielsen now buying on impressions. The volume of radio business now being transacted this way is significant in major markets like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago where most buys are agency-driven.

As sales people use impressions in their dealings with local direct clients, Sexton says they’re likely to find that impressions are easier to comprehend than cost per point. “If you're dealing with a car dealer it's easier for them to understand impressions because those are customers, those represent people.”Still, he acknowledges there is lots more work to be done. “There's a learning curve for everyone to get used to this transition,” Sexton says.

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