Updated: ANA Confirms Plans For TV Ratings RFP, Scope And Timing Not Disclosed

Editor's Note: The Association of National Advertisers has issued a clarification stating the RFP referred to in this article is not for an alternative TV ratings panel, but for one that would be used to calibrate a new technical solution the ANA is developing as part of its Cross-Media Initiative. The ANA's full statement can be read here.

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) this morning confirmed a report by Ad Age that it plans to issue a request for proposals (RFP) from media research suppliers to test alternatives to Nielsen’s TV audience measurement services.

The RFP follows similar initiatives from the supply-side, most notably NBC Universal, which has already begun “certifying” alternative currencies to Nielsen’s and is actively testing their results with major advertisers and agencies in anticipation of using them as part of their 2022-23 upfront advertising deals.



NBCU has already begun issuing overnight ratings to the ad industry and the press from its first certified supplier, TVision, as part of its coverage of the Winter Olympics Games.

During several sessions at last week’s Coalition on Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) summit, both buyers and sellers indicated that they expect a variety of currencies to be part of this year’s negotiating process, and at least one panel said it expects it to create complexity until the marketplace sorts it out.

It’s not clear what the timing of the ANA’s initiative is, or whether it will be completed in time to have any impact on the 2021-22 upfront season, which normally begins in the spring and runs through the summer months.

It’s also unclear whether the new initiative is part of a long-standing Cross-Media Measurement (CMM) initiative, which the ANA announced would begin testing a pilot of a new measurement methodology utilizing a “virtual people ID” developed by Comscore by the end of this quarter.

“Cross-media measurement has been a longstanding yet elusive goal for the marketing industry,” ANA Group Executive Vice President Bill Tucker said in a statement announcing the deal with Comscore in June 2021. Tucker, who is leading the CMM initiative, noted, “This partnership with Comscore and the test we are conducting represents a significant step toward realizing our objective.”

According to Ad Age’s report, the ANA is also considering a pilot test with a new, as-yet-undisclosed method developed by Kantar, which is 40% owned by WPP.

Cross-media measurement is also key to the U.S. ad industry’s current default TV ad currency provider, Nielsen, which has begun a “beta test” of its new “Nielsen One” methodology with some agencies.

Whatever the outcome and timing of these various tests and RFPs, it does not seem like much if any of the deals advertisers and agencies do in this year’s upfront will be on the basis of Media Rating Council accredited ratings. The MRC has suspended accreditation for all of Nielsen’s current TV ratings services, and none of the alternatives being considered in various industry RFPs are currently accredited, though at least three – Nielsen, Comscore and iSpot – are “under review” by the MRC.

5 comments about "Updated: ANA Confirms Plans For TV Ratings RFP, Scope And Timing Not Disclosed".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 22, 2022 at 12:02 p.m.

    Joe, this seems like a rather odd move on the part of the ANA as---unless we are in for a huge surprise--- there is not the slightest chance of anything resembling serious funding for an alternative TV rating service coming from advertisers.

    So how would you respond if you were a Nielsen wannabie? Any idea you have needs to be costed out so there is enough guaranteed financial support for a number of years of developmental and operational activity ---plus your profit. All of which affects the questions of panel size, how granular you want to be, whether you try to measure every bit of "viewing" activity--in- and out-of home? And. most important, if you hope to include the vital element of attentiveness---which requires every device to be monitored----a very costly business. What do you do if you know that you are dealing with the ANA---which won't pay you anything-----which will eventually try to pass the buck to the sellers and expect them to foot the bill? What I would do is dust off whatever proposals I submitted to NBCU---which are definitely seller-friendly and, no doubt, will not include attentiveness---and see what happens.

  2. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, February 22, 2022 at 12:02 p.m.

    As I have suggested over the years, CIMM could serve the industry, and consequently the ANA, as a TV Ratings JIC - Joint Industry Commitee, by establishing an industry agreed exquisitely defined SINGLE TV currency.  This would eliminate the confusion and complexity of multiple TV currencies currently being released and outlined at the recent CIMM Summit. 
    Some of us from media agencies remember the nightmare dealing with target audience currency data from Nielsen and Arbitron for TV and MRI and Simmons for print. However, at least they all measured impressions based on actual persons with a real measured opportunity or liklihood of looking at or seeing or hearing content compared to a device measure of content rendered - so called "viewable impressions".  (The latter is fundmanental of course, but only Level I of 8 Levels, per the ARF Media Model, in an ad's journey to impacting a consumer with a superb creative message as a result of an actual measured exposure with attention to consequently drive a brand outcome.) 

  3. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., February 22, 2022 at 12:09 p.m.

    @Ed Papazian: Well it's unlcear whether the ANA -- or even its members individually -- would fund anything. All we know at this point is that they're poised to issue an RFP. It could be that they just want to assess and bless an alternative currency that others would primarily fund.

    But I get your point, and it reminds me of the speech (former Mindshare research czar) David Marans would to every year at the ANA's TV Forum, in which he would tell them that the easiest way to fix all their problems and get the kind of audience measurement they want would be for advertisers to agree to pay a 3% exise tax on their TV ad buys, which would be more than enough to pay for the creation of whatever measurement service they want.

    And I agree with @Tony Jarvis that the best way for advertisers to fix their currency would be as part of a JIC (joint industry commitee) spelling out exactly what the industry wants and sourcing it to the best supplier.

  4. John Grono from GAP Research, February 22, 2022 at 5:37 p.m.

    Spot on Tony, Ed and Joe.

    Given that there seems to be no history of sufficient financial support by the ANA, surely an RFI would be a more appropriate first step.   At this stage it sounds like it is a fishing expedition of high hubris.

    As Tony points out a JIC is the (unofficial) 'Gold Standard'.   I have worked on JICs in virtually all media in AU and can vouch for the process.   Candidate businesses and start-ups are intensively reviewed by experts - will they deliver what is required, within commercial time-frames.    Then, and only then, does cost come into the equation.   Put another way, can the JIC partners afford what they asked for, and how will they carve up the bill each month.

    But one thing is certain.   If you end up with multiple 'certified currencies' then you have wasted your time and money.

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 23, 2022 at 8:49 a.m.

    John, re the Industry approach you outlined, what happens when they get to the point of dividing up the cost and one party---the sellers---- refuses to supply the largest portion of the funding. Do the advertisers and agencies pony up the needed cash---or are the specs revisited to make the cost lower and to eliminate any features that the sellers object to?

    For example, I understand that in England, there has been no interest in attentiveness and i the existing  system which shows almost no out-of-the-room commercial avoidance is accepted by all parties. That, of course, pleases the sellers---but why is there no movement toward getting at the truth? Does anyone believe that UK viewers watch just about every commercial that appears on their screens? This lack of constantly trying to improve the system seems to be a negative, inherent in all committee-run systems---too many compromises to keep all of the little ducks marching behind mama duck in a row?

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