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, 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?
- The future of measurement rests on a strong foundation of identity. It is the key to better counting, precision, interoperability, and optimization
- It will be critical that identity for measurement lines up with the identity framework for targeting
- Identity and interoperability will be key to whether a measurement solution will be able to drive better efficiency, reduce waste, create better impact results, and eventually demonstrate return on investment
2. Counting: What is the solution actually counting?
- Consider the fundamental difference between counting people and households. Does counting people drive effectiveness in today’s world?
- Technology has made precise targeting possible, therefore “counting” needs reimagination
- Hundreds of thousands if not millions of people would be required in a panel to accurately count the fragmented landscape. Are people-based panels even feasible anymore? Do they drive better effectiveness for advertisers in today’s world?
3. Quality: How does this account for the quality of content?
- Great content is vital and NBCUniversal noted “any new measurement standard needs to account for the quality of content, not only quantity of audiences.”
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:
- Can the provider measure all devices to deliver complete IMP and reach reporting?
- Can the provider detect ad occurrences completely, accurately and expeditiously?
- How does the provider create linkages across devices, apps, linear, and streaming to account for a single viewer/HHs activity?
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.
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.
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.
605 is an independent TV viewership, measurement, and attribution company. Differentiators include:
- Linear Data: 22M measurable HHs
- Data sources: CTVs and Set Top Boxes (STBs). They are also close to acquiring another vMPVD (eg Sling, Fubo TV) data set in 2022
- Deduplication: In 2022, 605 will implement a model that deduplicates at the device level using the insights from devices that are present in multiple data providers
- Identity: 605 has an existing relationship with OpenAP, who we view as an emerging leader in universal ID
- Revenue Sources: 605 announced the launch of 605 EXCHAN6E, at the end of 2021 to offer an alternative currency to underpin advertising transactions.
- MRC Accreditation: No
Comscore is a trusted partner for planning, transacting, and evaluating media across platforms. Differentiators include:
- Linear Data: 40M measureable HHs
- Data sources: STBs (Comcast, AT&T U-Verse, Dish, Charter/Spectrum. Cox, DirectTV, Samba), & CTVs (Vizio)
- Digital Data: Comscore collects over 50B digital events / day with its census data collection process
- People Panel: Comscore provides a proprietary personification solution that takes advantage of STB audience information to extract person level audience estimates at granular levels
- Advanced Audiences: Comscore advanced audiences are matched to TV households via blind matching process of MVPD subscriber files facilitated by Experian.
- Client Base: Comscore has 3,000 clients across local stations, national networks, station groups, advertising and media agencies, and across 200 regional and local agencies, 62% are exclusively using Comscore’s local market data
- MRC Accreditation: Seeking for Comscore TV. MRC Accedited for Digital
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:
- Linear Data: 17.1M measurable HHs, expected to grow to 34M in 1H 2022
- Data sources: CTVs (Vizio, LG, Toshiba, Sharp, Hisense, Skyworth, Seik)i. 12M STBs used to calibrate the data
- Digital Data: iSpot captures data via its pixel and direct integrations with 300+ publishers and sell & buy side ad servers and DSPs.
- Ad Occurance Sources: iSpot has a proprietary ad catalog and airing detection platform. using ACR in 30 cities and data centers across the US, tracking 160 networks and streaming publishers.
- Outcomes Measurement: iSpot onboards client offline sales data: POS, CRM, call center, etc. iSpot licenses 3rd party data such as IRI for conversion metrics.
- Weighting Methodology: Accurately counting starts with properly weighting each household based on their demographics and the amount of TV they consume relative to the national average.
- Impression Definition: Based on a verified play of an ad for 6 seconds (the most seconds of the 8 providers)
- Identity: iSpot maintains a proprietary device graph based on 19-million matched and ID resolved Smart TVs enabled by Epsilon as the primary identity spine.
- Outcome Measurement: Leveraging iSpot TV Conversion Analytics, including incrementality and brand lift
- MRC Accreditation: MRC Accreditation pending for ad occurrence detection. Further accreditations to follow
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:
- Linear Data: 41,600 proprietary National TV panel and 30M+ STB/CTVs
- Data sources: Dish, DirectTV, Vizio, Roku
- Digita Datal: 32k computer panel, 18k mobile devices & 150 networks via MPVD & TVE apps
- Nielsen also has direct server integration of their impression data across sell-side and buy-side ad servers, including video DSPs/SSPs
- Ad Occurance Sources: Proprietary to capture TV using passive recognition technology, watermarks, and as run logs
- People Panel: Nielsen operates a Portable People Meter panel of ~70k persons that measures in home and out-of home viewing. Where Nielsen doesn’t have direct persons level observations for linear TV, proprietary modeling approaches are used to determine persons in front of the TV set at the time of viewing.
- Deduplication: Nielsen performs deduplication using their proprietary Nielsen ID System, which is inclusive of Nielsen ID Graph, panels, and big data assets.
- Demographic Reporting Granularity: Household level or Age and Gender is provided at standard breaks. For Digital Reporting, Nielsen reports on ages 13+. Nielsen accounts for TV Co-viewing , at the person level viewing based on a subset of their panel having people meter devices installed in their homes.
- Outcomes Measurement: Nielsen offers MMM, MTA, Incrementality, in store sales (via NCS), and Brand Lift solutions
- MRC Accreditation: Accreditation currently suspended; actively working on re-accreditation
Oracle offers integrated suites of applications plus secure, autonomous infrastructure in the Oracle Cloud. Differentiators include:
- Linear Data: 15M TVs via iSpot and can match a subset to its Oracle ID Graph
- Digital Data: Measures Digital & CTV IMPs via creative level pixels & its identity graph.
- Identity: Oracle’s proprietary Identity Graph is built on a PII foundation from a data co-op of more than 1,500+ retailers with both mail order and e-commerce businesses, as well as CPG transaction data. Its transaction data records more than $1B transactions per week and represents 99% of U.S. household. Oracle collects 15 different types of identifiers on people in their Identify Graph, including email address, physical address, etc. If/when cookies should be deprecated, Oracle is well-positioned to interconnect via the Identity Graph to other consented ID networks to which the industry may transition.
- Deduplication: Oracle Moat measures unduplicated reach and frequency across the U.S. market for linear, OTA and VOD. Digital and CTV is captured directly via Oracle Moat’s measurement tags, and the deduplication is done by mapping exposures to Oracle’s proprietary Identity Graph, covering 99% of U.S. households
- Advanced Audiences: Oracle Moat Reach supports over 2000 Oracle syndicated audiences (purchase-based, lifestyle, etc.) as well as the ability to OnRamp any client 1st party audiences.
- MRC Accreditation: VIewability and anti-fraud products In-View/IVT Impression in Moat Reach are accredited.
Samba TV is a global leader in first-party data for TV & omniscreen audiences, advertising, and analytics. Differentiators include:
- Linear Data: 6.1M measurable Smart TV HHs
- Data sources: Sony, Phillips, Sharp, Toshiba, Sanyo, Element, Magnavox, Seiki, Westinghouse, TCL and STB data from MVPDs.
- Samba creates a 3M HH ACR only panel to project all US HHs Linear + CTV VIewing
- Digital Data: several integrations across TV networks and Streaming services via ACR
- Identity: Samba’s proprietary Identity and Device graph covers 106M HH, which underpins their cross channel measurement and deduplication product.
- Outcomes Measurement: Samba offers TV measurement, tune-in measurement, and outcomes in online conversions and foot traffic. Samba has built a number of MTA approaches.
- MRC Accreditation: Not at this time but plans to seek accreditation.
TVSquared (acquired by Innovid)
TVSquared is the largest independent global measurement and attribution platform for converged TV. Differentiators include:
- Linear Data: 18M CTV HHs from Vizio
- Digital Data: Direct publisher and server to server integrations with 75+ streaming platforms
- Speed: All reporting and analytics in dashboards are delivered next day in the platform and are exportable
- Outcomes Measurement: TVSquared calculates brand lift, incremental app and web visits, and MTA. Its data exports are used for advertiser MMMs.
- MRC Accreditation: In process
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:
- Linear Data: 39M measurable HHs (includes 24M linear TV HHs)
- Data Sources: Vizio (CTV), and MPVDs (Frontier, TiVo, Dish, 1 more coming soon) Reportable audience sample for linear is 24M used to project to all US HHs.
- Linear Data: 39M measurable HHs (includes 24M linear TV HHs)
- Digital Data: Integrates with publishers, platforms, and Ad Tech partners, to receive census level log data
- Identity: VideoAmp provides an interoperable identity solution across Live Ramp, Experian and TransUnion, OpenID and can match devices back to VideoAmp ID
- Revenue Sources: VA’s platform capabilities include planning, measurement, optimization, workflow automation, and currency capabilities. VideoAmp’s cross-platform audience measurement includes deduplicated reach and frequency measurement on age/gender audience demographics or on any advanced 1st or 3rd party audience.
- Outcomes Measurement: VA supports incrementality measurement, MTA, and MMM (via its acquisition of Conversion Logic).
- MRC Accreditation: No
For more in-depth information on the finalists above, check out NBCUniversal’s Measurement Framework Report here.
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