Viacom Starts CFlight For Upfront TV Marketers

Viacom is following in the footsteps of NBCUniversal -- launching its own version of a "CFlight" ratings guarantee to advertisers -- and just in time for this year’s upfront.

“We are in discussions with agencies right now,” Sean Moran, head of advertising solutions of Viacom, tells Television News Daily. He adds that the measurement is “very similar” to NBCUniversal, which launched CFlight almost exactly a year ago.

At that time, NBC said CFlight would measure -- for the entire length of a marketer’s campaign -- TV advertising exposures within full episodes of shows across all screens. 

CFlight offers a single audience guarantee, based on specific demographic impressions on average commercial minute ratings. They include live and delayed TV viewing, VOD, OTT, desktop and mobile.

Viewing data is synthesized from what NBC called the best measurement for each platform, using third-party research sources including Nielsen, ComScore, Moat and others. A number of media agencies, including GroupM, Magna, and Omnicom Media Group, worked with NBC to create CFlight.

One senior media agency executive recently told TV News Daily more than 80% of his upfront TV advertising clients of a year ago agreed to those CFlight guarantees.

For Viacom, doing a similar CFlight effort is particularly important, coming after buying the ad-supported OTT platform, Pluto TV, for $340 million in January.

As NBC did, Viacom wants to expand on C3/C7 guarantees -- to include not just linear TV --- but all digital platforms. Heading into this year's upfront, Viacom says it has a 50% reach among 18- to-34-year-olds -- 80% when including digital extensions.

For C3/C7, Nielsen measures the average commercial minute rating plus three or seven days of time-shifted viewing on linear TV. This has been the effective “currency” among TV networks and marketers since it was established in 2007, beginning with the C3 metric.

Moran has no problem calling Viacom’s guarantee effort “CFlight” — just like NBC has. “It’s better as an industry to find commonalities in how we are measuring and making things easier for clients to access,” he says.

For many, this is what the Open AP consortium, which started a year ago, entails. It's an effort to find new common audience/data segments for TV networks and TV marketers to use in the digital media age. Open AP members include Viacom, NBCUniversal, Fox, Turner and Univision.

While Viacom is moving to CFlight, it is still taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the next step in guarantees regarding business results for marketers -- so called “business outcome” promises. This can include guaranteeing the number of website visits, in-store traffic, actual sales or other areas for marketers.

“We are always willing to explore early on how we can benefit from new deal structures,” says Moran. “Because of our relationship with the younger consumer, we are confident to go down the path of attribution.”

But he added: “We just need all sides in being invested. That means they need to come to the table with a lot more transparency on all the different variables to construct a real deal.”

A+E Networks started its “business outcome” guarantee effort a year ago, making 22 deals with marketers to date. NBC did a deal in early 2019 with STXFilm’s “The Upside,” using data from Fandango, NBCU’s movie-ticketing site.

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