4A's Call For Transparency In Measurement Currency Methodologies

The advertising and marketing industry has been abuzz ever since the MRC (Media Rating Council) voted to suspend Nielsen’s accreditation to measure national and local television after the measurement firm undercounted national TV household viewership during the early part of the pandemic.

Nielsen’s measurement solutions were (and still are) considered by many to be the gold standard for supplying data to determine the cost of any given TV spot.

This holds true even for marketers and agencies that use Nielsen for their linear TV investments while using other measurement partners for digital and streaming buys.  

But, while most are operating under the assumption that the MRC will reaccredit Nielsen, that process is lengthy -- and this lapse in accreditation has opened the door to a plethora of largely unaccredited solutions seizing the moment to promote their measurement capabilities.

The U.S. is now transitioning into a multi-currency market, with a growing range of so-called currency-grade measurement providers being used to support advertising transactions.

As a result, the lack of a standard has led to the majority of the major TV networks entering into partnerships with different measurement providers or defining their own metrics to support their advertising sales, resulting in a more complex, competitive, and confusing measurement ecosystem. 

The challenge with these shifts is that these digital data sources are not universally available --and in some cases, locked behind the walls of digital platforms, which means several of the new measurement approaches are creating their own methodology and grading their own homework. 

This fragmentation of data leaves the door open to everyone developing their own, unaccredited and unaudited measurement solutions, and the lack of transparency leaves the industry needing to form their own perceptions about which “currency” to trust.

It's clearly a very unappealing place for any marketer to be in, especially when planning their upfront investments in TV. 

While these developments have led to an increase in ideation and innovation as well as additional investments in the measurement space, the same developments are also leading to an increasing lack of transparency in methodology, third-party benchmark, auditing or other methods of evaluation that are essential to evaluating the efficacy of specific and holistic media investment. 

The 4As and its Media and Measurement Committee, which is composed of leading measurement experts from media agencies (independent and holding companies), have been vocal in supporting third-party verification and industry audits to ensure that we are creating an accurate measurement framework.

We urge all measurement companies to submit their methodology to MRC audits to ensure transparency. 

Unlike media owners who see a revenue benefit by adopting multiple currencies, agencies are revenue-neutral in this process.

The work and resources involved in customizing tools & systems to different currencies, incorporating data points into specific research and analysis on audience trends, the work on client competitive benchmarking or even prepping for the upfronts will add a significant amount of work that will add up to overheads that agencies and marketers will have to deal with. 

Marketers and agencies require an accurate method to compare currencies to allocate their investment in ways to maximize the marketer’s return on ad spend.

In the current multi-currency scenario, without the required transparency in methodology, auditing, MRC accreditation or other methods of evaluation, agencies are left trusting currencies that may not have the value that the media owners place on it. 

We see the measurement space evolving into “vertical” and “horizontal” models.

The “vertical” model would support individual marketer/agency needs, could support multiple currencies if required, and will offer a complete cross-media measurement view.

On the other hand, the “horizontal” model will most probably be platform/media owner-driven, will offer one common currency and will make the determination regarding suppliers and measurement. At this point, Nielsen and Comscore are the only two “horizontal” providers with the ability to connect with multiple currencies.

As an example, while YouTube offers a “vertical” measurement model, it recently partnered with Nielsen to offer “horizontal” co-viewing measurement on CTV as well.

While the eventual solution may be to pivot all advertising to an outcomes-based measurement model, marketers and agencies need a trusted and benchmarked method to be able to analyze the value of planned buys -- especially across TV. 

Given how broad and deep the transition to a multi-currency measurement system will be, the 4As will join the ANA and CIMM on a study to explore the industry’s transition to a multi-currency TV market in the U.S., assess the opportunities and challenges presented by the transition, and develop practical recommendations that can help to ensure the success of the transition. 

The industry initiative will explore perspectives and experiences to develop practical recommendations in support of a successful transition toward a multi-currency TV market, andwill focus on: 

  • Exploring industry perspectives on managing the transition to a multi-currency market, 

  • Investigating the experiences of different categories of industry participants, 

  • Identifying practical opportunities to support a successful transition. 

Industry collaboration is critical during this transition to a multi-currency measurement framework. It is essential for all measurement companies to be willing to share details about their data sets so that they can be used interoperably in an open and transparent architecture to offer deduplicated reach and standardized methodologies used for measurement currencies that marketers, agencies and media owners can agree to and trust in. 



1 comment about "4A's Call For Transparency In Measurement Currency Methodologies".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 9, 2022 at 6:08 p.m.

    Being realistic, it's most unlikely that the sellers or the buyers want to see different measurements of the number of people viewing--target groups, demos, whatever---from multiple sources ---with various sellers deciding which ones will be used---needless to say with each picking that source that favors the particular seller.  That's a recipie for chaos.

    Far more likely is a standard audience  ---or rating---service---probably Nielsen's proposed "big data"  service ---- as the audience "counting" framework for most or all national "TV"  buys, coupled with other metrics---clickthroughs---as a prime example-----added where appropriate as secondary "currencies"---with guarantees.

    It's  not a question so much of "alternative" sources supplanting Nielsen as it is of sellers and buyers refining their buys with audience as the first step and something else---where appropriate---as an add-on. Seen in this manner, this may be a positive development, however the add-on "currencies" wont work very well in the upfront, where 70% of the national TV ad dollars are spent if these continue to be corporate, multo-brand buys. They also wont work when the advertisers is going to buy time ---or  sponsor---a certain genre of programming no matter what the "alternative currency" has to say---examples being sports, news and big time special events---which account for a huge amount of national TV ad spend.

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