How to Use CSA Reports to Gauge the Competitive Landscape in Your Market

by Katie Saltonstall | January 26, 2021

If you’re a cj media client, you might take notice when competitive spending analysis reports (CSAs) pop up in your inbox every month.* You may have observed some high spending estimates reported for you and your competitors. You may even have wondered why or how we spent that much in a month.

Well, worry not. Things are not always as they seem. We all know how tempting it is to just “put the desk together” and throw that instruction booklet to the side, but sometimes instructions are key in making sure that desk drawer doesn’t fall out.

So let’s start 2021 off with some clarity on how to read your CSAs:

  • Step 1. Focus on Market Notes. This section provides key information on your firm’s ranking in the market, any competition shifts among the top competitors, and the entrance or exit of any significant competitor.
  • Step 2. Note your actual spending and over-estimation, which is listed at the top left of the report. Here you’ll see how much Nielsen estimates your spend to be versus what your actual spend is.

    Side note: Nielsen has recently updated their methodology on how they estimate TV spending, which may result in even higher spending estimates than we’re used to seeing.
  • Step 3. Look at the bar graph to see the SOV (share of voice) of your brand vs. the competition.

To see an example report, click here.

Now that we’ve read them, what happens next?

A key thing to keep in mind with CSAs is that the spending estimates are just that: rough estimates. So you don’t want to place too much significance on the spending estimates, but rather, on the snapshot of the overall competitive landscape in your market.

Consider key takeaways such as these:

  • Did your #1 competitor suddenly drop out of the market?
  • Who’s increasing/decreasing their spend heavily month-over-month?
  • Did a new competitor enter the market at a top position?

Knowledge is Priceless

So while the exact spend estimates are not 100% accurate, CSAs are a useful tool for keeping your finger on the pulse of the competitive landscape in your market.

But always remember: They are best used as a general guide—and not to panic! We will not be making immediate changes based on findings in the report, but we will be monitoring them. And when warranted, your Brand Strategist will have further conversations with you and pull creative if a competitor continues to take share of voice.

If you ever have any questions about your monthly CSA report, please reach out to your media team or your Brand Strategist. We’re always happy to talk it through with you.

Not a cj Media client and want to know more?

Contact us at to learn how we can help you with your media strategies and get you the most for your advertising buck.

*If you’re reading this and thinking, “Hey, I’m a cj Media client. Why don’t I receive this report?!” Currently, competitive information is not available for some of the smaller markets or Canada.