The TV Measurement Landscape is No Longer One Size Fits All

By Tinuiti Team

As many of us know, the word measurement is fickle if you’re involved in the streaming and TV world, or for just about anyone involved in the media/advertising industry. We all know how incredibly important measurement is, but that word can mean different things to different people.

It’s crucial to know all of the measurement solutions that are available and in no place of the marketing universe is measurement more in flux than in the TV landscape. NBCUniversal just released their Measurement Framework Report including 116 pages jam-packed with the results from their recent RFP. In this RFP, they called on every innovator in the TV measurement space to share their capabilities and differentiators. 

In this report, NBCUniversal received over 120 responses as they evaluated the US Cross-Platform Ad Currency contender snapshot, seeking to identify a viable currency to buy and sell inventory in the modern and future video landscape. If you don’t have time to dive into the report yourself, you’re in luck. We read it so you don’t have to and we’re breaking down the top measurement contenders and how they were selected. Let’s start from the top.

“Measurement determines what we value and how we transact on it, how we evaluate impact and even define success. It’s the foundation of trust, and the language of partnership.”

– Kelly Abcarian, NBCUniversal, EVP Measurement & Impact

What is currency?

As consumer behavior has shifted and the television landscape expands (traditional, streaming, youtube, CTVs, DVRs, mobile, platforms, etc.), NBCUniversal notes that the TV currency we trade on is lagging far behind. But what does “currency” exactly mean in this space? Let’s break it down. 

When a media buy is negotiated between buyers and sellers, generally what is bought is not simply advertising spots. It’s also an audience and ratings guarantee. A currency is the common language that buyers and sellers use to agree on exactly what is being bought and sold, and how buyers and sellers determine that what was bought was delivered. 

Nielsen, a global leader in audience insights, data, and analytics who has owned this data for decades, has traditionally served as that currency. Buyers and sellers agree to transact on audience guarantees that translate to ratings. For example, the media buy will consist of a certain number of impressions delivered against a specific age and gender demographic, such as adults between the ages of 25-54 or females between 18-49. The seller (a TV network) then runs the buyer’s (an advertiser) ads in its programming, reaching all viewers who tune in. 

From there, Nielsen then measures how many households that ad reached, and how many people in those households are “in-demo”. Nielsen then reports back to the buyer and seller how many impressions were delivered in-demo. The agreement between buyer and seller of what demographic will be guaranteed, and what measurement company will verify delivery against that demo, is known as “the currency”.

What is “wrong” with Nielsen?

Now that we’ve covered currency, why can’t advertisers just stick with Nielsen to gauge measurement? 

They can, but in the grand scheme of the TV landscape, and as new platforms arise seemingly daily, Nielsen’s panel is simply under-representative of the larger demographic of viewers. Their Linear TV data panel includes just 41,600 households which is a fraction of the TV viewership population.

It’s also important to note, in September 2021, Nielsen lost its accreditation for local and national TV measurement by the Media Ratings Council. According to PRNewswire, this was due to the measurement firm undercounting national TV household viewership during the pandemic, sparking pushback from TV networks. 

This accreditation loss has created space for alternative currencies to capitalize and yet another reason NBCUniversal put forth an RFP as they were looking for additional options. But what are the options available?

What kind of measurement alternatives exist?

Now that the TV landscape is changing at such a rapid pace (think – connected TV, smart TVs, etc.), it’s easier than ever to see who is watching what. These advanced TVs, devices, and platforms can serve as panels in their own right, capturing a vast amount of data with relatively minimal effort. Smart TVs like Vizio and LG collect Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) Data and know exactly what shows, apps, games and ads are viewed on the TV’s glass. Streaming platforms and services may also use a combination of ACR and their own 1P data to understand viewing behavior and ad exposure. 

But which measurement provider is best positioned to tie these huge data sets together and create a currency for today and into the future?

NBCUniversal poses the question, “why does it just have to be one?” They see a future where companies can choose to adopt multiple, interoperable measurement systems to accurately, effectively, and respectfully measure the modern TV and Streaming landscape as it continuously evolves.

With responses from 120 companies, and after six months of analyzing and testing their offerings, NBCUniversal created a Measurement Framework V1 that covers every major solution category (see below).

Audience measurement matters more than ever 

There are many facets to measurement in the TV and streaming industry, but one consistently rises to the top – audience measurement. This is why audience measurement is the first category to be analyzed in this report.

“The fragmentation of the video landscape is more complex than ever. Trust has eroded from antiquated person-level panels that lack the scale needed to understand viewership habits across all of the different ways we consume video today. The devices, platforms, and streaming services have the data to measure viewership. The question now is who will emerge as the leader in bringing all that walled off data together so that buyers and sellers can do business together in a marketplace built for today’s landscape and technology.”

Jesse Math

– Jesse Math, VP, Advanced TV & Video Solutions at Tinuiti

In the process of evaluating the top eight currency contenders, three key questions emerged when considering these measurement options:

1. Identity: What identity frameworks are being used, and will they be interoperable?

2. Counting: What is the solution actually counting?

3. Quality: How does this account for the quality of content?

What were the top contenders evaluated on?

During the evaluation of the top eight measurement contenders, NBCUniversal grouped each aspect of analysis across three areas defined as Value Variables which include the following:

1. Completeness of Solution

The completeness of solution reflects the core inputs of 11 attributes some including: inventory coverage, ad occurrence data across platforms, IMP definition, de-duplication, use of identity, and more (see additional attributes in the image below). For example:

Source: NBCUniversal

2. Ability to Deliver

The ability to deliver, “provides an understanding of the ability to report accurate campaign impressions and reach by capturing viewership everywhere inventory is distributed across linear, streaming, digital, Video on Demand, Over The Air (yes! Millions still use those bunny ears!), and Out of Home.” See additional attributes below.

Source: NBCUniversal

3. Cross-Platform Currency Readiness

This variable takes into account if the company “has deep expertise in advertising, media, and the full spectrum of digital and linear platforms as well as how to harness the power of big data and identity.” This can consider how long the company has been in market with a cross-platform product, buyer and seller adoption, agility, and more. See additional attributes below

Source: NBCUniversal

The top eight currency finalists

Of the 120 submissions to NBCUniversal’s RFP, finalists were narrowed down to 8 contenders. Let’s break down a few of their differentiators below.

Source: NBCUniversal


605 is an independent TV viewership, measurement, and attribution company. Differentiators include:


Comscore is a trusted partner for planning, transacting, and evaluating media across platforms. Differentiators include:

iSpot TV

iSpot measures linear and digital video in a unified manner to understand incremental reach over linear, and to measure digital video’s impact on business outcomes compared to linear. Differentiators include:


Founded in 1923, Nielsen serves the world’s media and content ecosystem and is a global leader in audience measurement, data, and analytics. It will launch the Nielsen ONE product line at the end of 2022 that serve as a cross-media first suite of products for ads and content, will address the following coverage gaps: 1. CTV coverage to grow beyond 75%; 2. OOH to include a reach metric; 3. four screen de-duplication. Audio is on the roadmap for Nielsen One. Current differentiators include:


Oracle offers integrated suites of applications plus secure, autonomous infrastructure in the Oracle Cloud. Differentiators include:


Samba TV is a global leader in first-party data for TV & omniscreen audiences, advertising, and analytics. Differentiators include:

TVSquared (acquired by Innovid)

TVSquared is the largest independent global measurement and attribution platform for converged TV. Differentiators include:


VideoAmp is a media measurement and optimization software company creating a more valuable and data-driven ecosystem that redefines how media is valued, bought, and sold. Differentiators include:

For more in-depth information on the finalists above, check out NBCUniversal’s Measurement Framework Report here.

If you’d like to learn more about Tinuiti’s streaming services, visit our Streaming+ page for more information. If you’d like to connect with a streaming expert or have additional questions, contact us directly today

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