Q3 Media Recap: Nielsen, Instagram, & Podcasts

Sara Timberlake

The media landscape is ever-changing, and 2021’s third quarter was no exception. In comparison with some other aspects of life, COVID-19 minimally affected media tactics.

The virus impacted health numbers across the globe, as well as various economic particulars such as the workforce. Other areas of the market remained largely unaffected, and some even grew. Media, however, did see one large-scale change, though it was not influenced by COVID-19.

Additionally, digital platforms and advertising options continued to crop up, giving advertisers more places to reach their target audiences. Though most of the options are already on active platforms, they seem to be expanding to continue competing with one another.

Here’s a rundown of the large and small updates, tactics from Q3 that we absolutely think should be utilized in Q4, and emerging media.

Nielsen TV Measurements Lose Accreditation

A huge shock to advertisers last quarter was the fact that Nielsen’s TV measurement tool lost its accreditation. In their own words, “Nielsen ratings tell media participants who were exposed to content and advertising. We use multiple metrics such as reach, frequency, averages, and the well-known ratings—the percentage of a specific population that was exposed to content and ads—to determine exposure. TV ratings provide insight into who’s watching which programs—valuable information for networks, content distributors, brands, ad buyers, ad agencies, etc.”

The Media Rating Council (MRC), a trusted industry group, suspended the accreditation for the national TV rating service, and even the local TV rating service.

The MRC is worried about Nielsen’s “precision, accuracy, and reliability of traditional TV ratings.” The landscape of TV has changed drastically with the rise of OTT and CTV, as well as with the COVID-19 pandemic. Apparently, Nielsen hasn’t kept up. It’s been stated that Nielsen underreported viewership data, which means that it appears the ratings weren’t as high as they were in reality.

Typically, after a campaign has run, agencies (including us) run a “post-buy analysis” on the TV schedule. This helps ensure that the rate we paid for is the rate that was delivered. (You know we want our clients to get what they pay for!)

If a station can’t meet at least 90% of the points–or sometimes if there is a 20 point discrepancy–agencies can request bonus spots at no cost to the client. With Nielsen losing its TV accreditation, agencies will no longer have the same leverage because the Nielsen rating no longer has legs.

Those that had previously relied on Nielsen will have to seriously pivot—and not even in the fun Friends way. However, there are alternative rating systems to utilize. Most of the TV stations we work with had already used Comscore, a different accredited TV rating service. Comscore may find itself as the industry standard in the near future.

Advertising with Instagram Reels

On the positive side, Instagram first started to allow advertisements on their Reels function this past July. Prior to that, Reels was solely an organic space that launched in August of 2020 in an effort to compete with TikTok.

Reels are very similar to Instagram’s Stories feature in the sense that they are full-screen, vertical videos. However, Reels are 15- to 30-second, looping, multi-clip videos. They can be viewed in the Reels tab of an Instagram profile and in the Explore tab.

According to Instagram, “Reels is the best place on Instagram to reach people who don’t follow you and a growing global stage where brands and creators can be discovered by anyone. These ads will help businesses reach greater audiences, allowing people to discover inspiring new content from brands and creators.”

So, jump on advertising on Reels! Or don’t, we can’t tell you what to do, but be ready to miss out on a cool emerging platform.

Do NOT Leave Podcasts in Q3

Podcasts remained advertising’s “It Girl” through the third quarter of 2021, and we definitely don’t anticipate that changing in Q4. One report states that 55% of Americans say they listen to podcasts–that’s 155 million people!

By 2022, it’s projected that 88.9 million listeners will tune in each month. By 2023, it’s estimated to be 94.7 million! According to Marketing Dive, podcast ad revenue should jump to $1.13 billion by next year, showing that ad spend is increasing with the listenership.

According to Forbes, “…half of all podcast listeners are aged 12 to 34.” Forbes also advises to not solely consider podcasts a young person’s game, “As the listeners themselves age, these age brackets will shift as well. The younger profile has much more to do with their openness to new technology and not necessarily the subject matter or appeal of the content.”

The same Forbes report states that 47% of listeners are white, 4% are Asian, 13% are Black, 16% are Hispanic, and the rest are listed as “other.” These statistics are helpful to advertisers when trying to target specific demographics.

Spotify is currently the #1 most listened to podcast platform with 31.3% of listeners. Apple Podcasts comes in second with 26.1% and is followed by Google Podcasts with 3%.

Podcast listeners are reportedly highly engaged, resulting in a 69% increase in knowledge of a company’s products, services, and general brand awareness due to podcast advertisements. Consequently, getting into podcast advertising earlier rather than later is highly recommended. This gives advertisers the opportunity to reach untapped markets, hopefully at the peak of their engagement.

Amazon’s New Tactics

This may not come as a surprise, but Amazon continues to insert itself into every advertising opportunity possible. They’re essentially turning themselves into a Google by being able to wear almost any “hat” in advertising. They’re offering numerous campaign solutions for a variety of clients.

Some of Amazon.com’s advertising options include Sponsored Product Ads, Headline Search Ads, Product Display Ads, and Amazon Storefront. There are also options for advertisers that aren’t selling a product. This includes video ads on FireStick, devices like Fire Tablet, or with audio ads through Amazon audio apps or an Alexa device.

According to CNBC, “…while Amazon doesn’t break out advertising revenue, ads account for the majority of the company’s ‘other’ sales.” Ads are the fastest-growing part of Amazon’s overall business in the second quarter, “with revenue soaring 87% from a year earlier to more than $7.9 billion.”

The same CNBC report cites digital ad agency, Merkle, stating that “sponsored product ads accounted for roughly 73% of retailers’ ad spend on Amazon in the second quarter.”

Amazon is also expanding advertising options by replacing product recommendations in listings with product ads, new video ad formats, and sponsored brand posts.

Bring It On, Q4

Q4 has arrived! Armed with solutions to problems and insights into new technology, we definitely feel ready for it. As advertisers, none of us can dwell in the Nielsen TV reporting loss. Rather, we need to be nimble and pivot to other avenues, like Comscore.

As always, in Q4 we will continue to keep our eyes out for emerging technologies that will help better serve our partners. Although podcast advertising and Amazon advertising aren’t technically new this quarter, or even year, they are being used in new ways to reach the target audience better.

As we find new ways to advertise, we will have to shift our plans to include these mediums where they align with the strategy. With that said, onward to the final few months of 2021!

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