NBCUniversal crowning iSpot.tv as preferred measurement partner amid changing strategy

NBCUniversal crowning iSpot.tv as preferred measurement partner amid changing strategy

Diving Brief:

  • NBCUniversal has selected iSpot.tv as the preferred measurement partner in a multi-year agreement touching on its One Platform portfolio, according to an announcement.
  • The media giant will enact a “massive prototype” of iSpot.tv audience validation tools for ad campaigns and program ratings on upcoming broadcasts of the 2022 Winter Olympics and Super Bowl LVI. Agency partner Publicis Media is the first media holding company to test the new measurement suite.
  • ISpot.tv emerged as an early winner after NBCUniversal began a comprehensive review of its measurement relationships last year. The network has reinforced that it is not selecting a single partner to handle all of its metering duties, nor is it looking for a replacement for Nielsen, which was among the first companies to submit to NBCUniversal’s Request for Proposal (RFP).

Diving Insight:

NBCUniversal is laying the building blocks in place for a new approach to scaling across streaming and linear TV features in collaboration with iSpot.tv. Both have histories: NBCUniversal was an early adopter of iSpot.tv’s smart TV metering services in 2014 and leveraged the platform four years later to create results-driven metering in the TV market.

Now, the network’s goal is to diversify the metrics in a broader sense that recognizes that people are consuming content differently than they did a few years ago, driving demand for accurate, real-time insights. In a statement, a Publicis Media executive described the setup as a “full screen, one video world,” a phrase that reflects fragmented viewing habits amid the rise of broadcasting.

ISpot.tv shows face a severe test around the Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl, two destination-watching events that attract millions of eyeballs and mountains of ad spend from high-profile marketers. NBCUniversal’s advertising partners will obtain real-time broadcast data from iSpot.tv for linear, streaming, and variable viewing, as well as next-day reports detailing verified ad impressions, reach and frequency, linear overlap, streaming and increment. Measurement statistics are available at the household and personal level regarding age and gender demographics, along with custom audience segments.

Identifying brands that work with NBCUniversal will also have access to impact-oriented measurement, such as accurate attention, outage rates, business results reports, and creative performance evaluations that include pre-testing and brand impact analysis. The outcome of these pilots will shape the blueprint for NBCUniversal’s approach to the 2022-23 season.

“This is not a shift away from one panel-based system to another, but a critical step toward embracing the metrics that brands already use to rate media companies,” said Kelly Apkarian, executive vice president of measurement and impact at NBCUniversal Advertising and Partnerships. In a press release.

The move is supported by the recent introduction of NBCUnified, a solution that streamlines first-party data across the NBCUniversal wallet for TV networks, streaming devices, and theme parks. NBCUnified acts as the “data backbone” for the company’s broader measurement initiatives. NBCUniversal at the same time affirms commitments to benchmarking standards set by the Association of National Advertisers, Office of Video Advertising, and OpenAP.

Future measurement partners will be revealed when they complete the NBCUniversal accreditation process. NBCUniversal began conducting a large-scale RFP in 2021 to break with old metrics and narrow down to those that have a measurable impact on consumers, advertisers, and publishers. The elephant in the room in this discussion is Nielsen, until recently the dominant player in the TV measurement category.

Last year Nielsen was criticized for systematically reducing viewership numbers amid the pandemic. It subsequently lost its accreditation from the Media Rating Board, a major media watchdog, in a serious blow to its standing among networks and advertisers, some of whom have long yearned for alternatives.

NBCUniversal insists that the scaling change is not about replacing Nielsen, and that its group of partners could eventually include the company that quickly submitted the RFP. The network hasn’t identified an overwhelming number of partners it is looking for as it looks to reinvent measurement. The RFP has attracted over 100 responses, with other contenders including ComScore, DataPlusMath, Conviva, Truthset and VideoAmp.

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