TV was called out for messing with metrics Thursday. But in an ironic twist, media buyers are largely shrugging where they've taken great umbrage at digital platforms misreporting their own data.
Networks have been called out for tampering with their Nielsen ratings with a little sleight of numbers, perhaps abusing a fairly common practice, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Networks are essentially hiding certain time slots and airings of programs from the ratings, if including those outlier broadcasts would negatively impact the average rating.
"It's one of those things that's been part of the Nielsen rules for a long time," said Ed Gaffney, GroupM's head of implementation research and marketplace analysis in the U.S. "Networks can exclude certain programs from the average. But they have been doing it a lot lately."
Media buyers said it was routine for the networks to cook their ratings a little and that it didn't impact advertising prices. And yet, there is a double edged sword when it comes to digital platforms misreporting their own metrics -- apparently less intentionally than TV -- which has recently resulted in media agency outrage.