The Missing Voice on C7

12 Jun

national TV upfront

By Matthew Reiss, Senior Vice President, Client Services – Advantage Media Inc.

The decibel level within the industry regarding a move from a C3 to C7 standard for buying and selling national TV is now at a fever pitch. The addition of time shifted viewership from 3 days after broadcast to now include an additional 4 days is at the heart of this debate. 

Recent articles proudly proclaim that agencies, such as Group M, and broadcast networks, such as CBS, FOX and NBC have already consummated some deals on the C7 metric, limited at the moment to Prime entertainment programming inventory. 

What’s missing is the voice of the advertiser 

So far, we’re only hearing about what’s best for others. No where do we hear about what’s best for the one paying the bills. So what’s at stake here? Though there are significant differences in the amount of time shifted viewership during these additional 4 days, on average it represents about 3% additional viewings.  

Up to this time, paying based on C3 means that the advertiser may be getting a 3% bump in viewership. Not huge, but good to have. By shifting to a C7 metric, these viewers will now be counted against your guaranteed delivery. In short, advertisers will begin to pay for viewers that up till now you’ve been getting as “added value”.  

What’s in it for the networks is pretty straight forward  

Even though such time shifted viewing has been delivering this added value since the invention of the VCR, they now want to be paid for it. But what it really delivers to them are additional rating points against their guaranteed deals without having to add any more commercial inventory.  

What’s in it for the agencies is also pretty straight forward  

By moving to the larger C7 audiences, they can show clients that they lowered CPMs by about 3%, at a time when network Prime CPMs continue to grow much faster than most advertiser’s budgets.  

There’s even something in this for Nielsen  

By selling multiple streams of data from its overall database, Nielsen should expect a bump in its revenue.

But what’s missing is what’s in it for advertisers 

In the view of Advantage Media, there’s not much in this for advertisers. Yes, in the first year CPMs will look lower, though this of course, is a shell game, since advertisers have had the benefit of these viewers all along. In year 2 and beyond, advertisers can expect to see the same steady year over year CPM increases, so no benefit there.  

For our retail clients, this move is even more unfriendly. Paying for viewers who see your commercials after a “limited time offer” has expired will be money wasted. As you may know, Advantage Media already directs agencies to obtain compensation for commercial units that air “out of flight.”  

Also, focusing on C7 (which someday could be pushed to C14 or beyond) takes the industry’s eye off those advances that could truly benefit the advertiser. Such areas include true commercial audience measurement, rather than the current C3 “average” of all commercials. Or how about pursuing expansion in the ratings sample to improve accuracy and discrimination within the data?  

It’s being said that the move to C7 is inevitable. But is it? We believe it’s not if advertisers take exception to it or at least minimally extract a significant “true” benefit from the change.  

Advantage Media strongly recommends that advertisers raise their voice on this issue before the networks and your agencies move to this new metric, especially if your involvement or agreement has not been sought.  

With deals being “discussed” based on C7 if not being seriously negotiated, all advertisers should contact their agencies on this issue now before the deal gets done. You’ll be glad you did!

Interested in learning more about the impact of a potential shift to C7?  Contact Matthew Reiss, SVP, Client Services for Advantage Media Inc. at (303) 763-8192 or via email at [email protected].


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