The process of buying TV ads can be very different, depending on the nature of the campaign. If your goal is brand awareness, ratings will be your guideline. If your objective is to generate a response via phone or web, your tactics are not quite as black and white. No matter what you are trying to achieve, understanding the relationship of ratings and rates plays a huge role in campaign success.
Thanks to Nielsen, we can obtain viewership data for each DMA (Designated Market Area). The country is divided up, typically around major cities, where networks broadcast from. The TV watching activity is recorded and reported to give stations, advertisers, and buyers a snapshot of what programs gain the most attention.
Ratings are communicated in points, which are a percentage of the overall population in that market based on the demographic you are targeting (i.e. Woman 18-34, Adults 25-54). The data is taken one step further, by specifying “share,” which is the percentage tuned in at that given time. All of this information helps to make an informed decision on what programs to buy in order to reach the most viewers in your target audience, and is crucial to maximizing your money. Rates are divided by rating points to give you a CPP (cost per point), to show the efficiency of your media spend. Breaking stations down by CPP can assist in comparing – for instance, a spot during Monday Night Football might cost a lot more than the noon news, but the viewership is so much higher during MNF, that it is a cheaper way to reach more people.