NBC Wants Measurement 'Independence' - Now Define It

One industry observer speaking with TV Watch responded to NBCU's efforts around a media measurement "independence" with the idea that it might have to be homemade.

A truly independent service would surely allude to what we have now -- a third-party service, not one that is “housed” at one major TV network/media company.

NBCU’s efforts are understandable -- even without any references to the slip-ups Nielsen made during the COVID-19 pandemic period. They want to take care of its business. They don’t have any time to waste.

But it really speaks to a future where a modernizing TV business can compete far better in the digital media world -- one that shows no slowdown against major players like Google and Facebook, where millions of U.S. local business can point to specific business outcome improvements.



Can NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS, Walt Disney, Fox Corp. and a forthcoming Warner Bros. Discovery talk up the same in terms of a marketers’ returns on media investment?

Those legacy TV companies would say: “Yes. We've got stuff to show you.” But can that data be easily analyzed against the exact same parameters of other media companies advertising targeting and reporting metrics? Or independent third parties, for that matter? Hmm.. Not so much. And there’s the rub.

Although NBCU has not said whether its “independence” plan would be open to all media sellers, it did mention the need for a “global currency.” (Ah hah!)

So, NBCU -- if you, in plain language, suck in certain programming, advertising engagement, business outcomes numbers versus your competitors, you won’t mind saying so? Well, that’s not how media-sales operations -- or any sales operations for that matter -- work.

So we get back to the need for a currency. To do that, one needs cooperation for all parties involved. And we know how easy that can be.

In the past, we have seen new U.S. media measurement efforts try -- and fail -- to replace the current system we have.

Some names to consider in reference to joint efforts, trials, companies pursuing Nielsen alternatives: SMART (Systems for Measuring and Reporting Television) ARF JIC (Joint Industry Committee),ScanAmerica, AGB and R.D. Percy.

We see the need for a globally currency -- at least in the near term.

But ask yourself: Do Google and Facebook need a global currency? Other digital media? Maybe somewhere down the road they might, when soaring revenue growth slows down for major digital players.

But by that time, those companies might have a different global definition for global currency.

8 comments about "NBC Wants Measurement 'Independence' - Now Define It".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 27, 2021 at 9:59 a.m.

    Wayne, what's needed is a single measurement service that  can capture all device usage---"linear" or digital---and add to that an indication of who claims to be watching plus an attentiveness metric so programmers and advertisers can tell whether the claimed program viewer was still in the room and "watching" at any given point in time---like when a commercial was on the screen. This is a must---viewing and attentiveness ---for both in-home and out-of-home "viewing". As for all of the other possibilities, many of these fall under the category of special reports used selectively by the sellers---in addition to the basic ratings. These may include attempts to correlate "ad "exposures" with  "outcomes" of various types---but this is a very iffy area and the sellers will not risk making hard guarantees on sales for any advertisers---unless they cover themselves with caveats.

  2. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics replied, August 27, 2021 at 3:16 p.m.

    Seems to me that Google, Amazon, Facebook get by without all of this and are doing fine, no?

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 27, 2021 at 5:36 p.m.

    Jack, they are doing great with search and direct response marketers as well as millions of small budget local and regional advertisers but not so fine with the 400-500 major national TV buying corporations who account for 90% or more of the TV networks' ad revenues. If they want to compete for those dollars they need to accept an independent third party rating service in addition to making many oither chnges---like charging a fair prioce for the buying and ad distribution functions, dealing with fraud, offering attention generating breaks in quality programming, etc.etc.

  4. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics replied, August 27, 2021 at 7:53 p.m.

    I'm pretty sure the big TV advertisers are shifting lots of money to these folks too. And the share is growing every month. Despite press pronouncements dollars are shifting to providers that provide less of what you believe is required.  It may be that more complete measures will slow the shift, but for advertisers who believe digital responses are worthwhile, even if incomplete, the advantages of placing spots in real time and on the fly are attractive. 

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 28, 2021 at 2:21 a.m.

    Jack, I believe that dollars are shifting as you say, however I also believe that these will mostly be to TV network- controlled AVOD services as these gain in viewing time. So what is actually happening---in part---is a melding of the two types of TV content access with the TV networks and their ways of selling time still, largely in control. What will change all of this is when, and if, the AVOD services not controlled by them gain traction and make the required changes. YouTube is a prime example of this. It is equal in viewing volume to any two broadcast TV networks combined but too much of this viewing activity is of a kind that is not appealing to many TV advertisers---especially thse fixated on program content----news, sports and specials---who constitute a huge share of linear TV ad spending.

  6. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics replied, August 28, 2021 at 8:55 a.m.

    As pricing pressure continues, the pursuit of audiences wherever they can be found dominate. Algorithms and automated buying grow and drive down cost per impression. Those algorithms don't consider content. Dollars that are driven by content choices are losing share. Few "white lists" exist here. Audience based buying captures cheap impressions everywhere and anywhere. That is where the growth is. I wish I were optimistic as you are, but content driven choices are losing ground to audience based buying that is automated, despite the fraud cesspool of digital.  Until advertisers really wake up to this, and stop pretending that they have addressed the problem, we are not headed to a future where content matters much.  

  7. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 28, 2021 at 10:29 a.m.

    Jack,  I think that we both agree about advertisers not participating as they should concerning questions regarding what shoud the next national TV rating service be like and especially the funding of it. However, I do not see any shift towards computerized national time selling or buying and even on a local level, the so-called "programmatic" deals are all made between himans  on both sides---it's not at all like what plays out in the digital world.

    If, however, automated buying and selling were to prevail at some future point for most or all national TV buys---"linear" or AVOD----that would mean the end of sports, news and specials of most types as well as prime time dramas and many sitcoms as the computers would never accept their very high CPM premiums---which are what makes such content possible for viewers  and for advertisers to exploit promotionally. Instead,almost all buys would place advertisers in daytime or early evening dayparts as well as talking head and reality shows, reruns of all types, etc. since these would seem to the computers---which  don''t account for reach---as well as ad clutter or program quality----as the most cost efficient ways to "target" the brands' key consumer groups. Once that became obvious to advertisers---just as happened way back in the 1960s and 1970s when the larger ad agencies were promoting computerized "media selection models" ---advertisers will simply revert to their old ways and so will the time buyers.

  8. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 28, 2021 at 12:45 p.m.

    Of course, I meant the local deals are made by "humans", not "himans". Sigh!

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