OpenAP called it a joint industry committee, but they didn’t even have one of -- if not the biggest -- supplier of cross-platform inventory in the "joint."
That’s probably because Disney -- which has close to a 10% share of Madison Avenue’s ad spending, according to Standard Media Index -- isn’t even a member of OpenAP, which is owned by Fox, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Warner Bros. Discovery and venture capital firm Snowflake Ventures.
JICs, as they operate in markets outside the U.S., normally are owned jointly by three sides of the ad industry -- advertisers, agencies and media owners -- who work together to define the parameters of their market currencies and source them -- usually via RFPs (request for proposal) to research suppliers who bid for the right to become contracted suppliers.
While OpenAP’s announcement stated its “newly-launched JIC” would collaborate with the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), as well as “other key industry trade bodies” -- including the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As), Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), “and more” -- it never explicitly stated who would actually own the JIC, which leaves me to conclude it would be OpenAP.
In other words, it’s not truly a JIC, but what ad markets outside the U.S. would call a MOC -- or a media owner committee -- with a little VC money thrown in for good measure. At least not by conventional ad-industry standards.
That said, an advertising marketplace can agree to call anything anything it wants, and OpenAP and its owners continue to call their new committee a JIC, and say they’re close to having agencies officially join it.
And while it’s not clear what “joining” means, one of OpenAP’s owners, NBCUniversal, will host a panel discussion with the Chief Investment Officers of some big ad agencies at its annual developer’s conference in New York City this week to update the industry on the progress of their committee.
The panel, which will be moderated by MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle, will include Dentsu’s Cara Lewis, Havas Media’s Amy Ginsberg, Horizon Media’s David Campanelli, and Omnicom Media Group’s Geoffrey Calabrese, as well as OpenAP CEO David Levy and execs from NBCU, Paramount and TelevisaUnivision.
That’s some impressive buy-side clout for sure, but notably absent are two of the market’s biggest players -- Publicis Media Group and GroupM -- although the latter is expected to make its own announcement any day now about what, if any, alternative currencies it plans to use for the 2023-24 upfront.
What has been missing from OpenAP’s announcements so far are the names of advertisers joining its committee, although it said it is collaborating -- or plans to -- with the ANA as part of its trade association outreach.
Another key trade organization notably missing from OpenAP’s announcements so far has been the Media Rating Council (MRC), which for the past 60 years has been the closest thing the U.S. has had to a self-regulatory body overseeing its advertising-market currencies.
Confusing matters further was that OpenAP said its committee will “Engage a third-party audit firm to verify the accuracy of the streaming viewership dataset in order to maintain measurement independence and neutrality,” which is actually what the MRC does as part of its process for accrediting industry advertising metrics suppliers.
It was confusing enough that the MRC late last week had to issue its own statement clarifying that, while it welcomes an industry JIC, it will not replace what the MRC does.
That’s because unlike any other advertising marketplace around the world, the U.S. operates under a consent decree with the Justice Department in which the MRC would serve as a neutral and independent self-regulatory body setting research standards, auditing the industry’s suppliers and accrediting them when they measure up.
Most ironic of all, OpenAP didn’t even bother to inform the MRC about its “JIC” announcement until the night before it made it.
Now I’m not implying there is anything passive aggressive about handling things that way, or that there is any power-grabbing to seize control of the ad industry’s audience-measurement currency process here, but I will go out on a limb -- and piss some people off -- by saying that a privately held venture-funded entity owned by some (but not all) of the biggest TV suppliers, plus one VC, is not in the spirit of the neutral, self-regulatory spirit that the industry agreed to following the Harris Committee hearings on broadcast ratings that Congress held in the 1960s to make sure everything was on the up and up.
Even if some big-name agency execs are throwing in to the OpenAP committee, it’s just not the same thing.
A better model would be a genuine JIC -- or at the very least, an organization like the MRC, which is a) neutral, b) independent, c) a not-for-profit organization that publicly discloses its finances each year for anyone to see.
And while the MRC isn’t a committee that anyone can own, its membership is a good model for an actual JIC.
It even includes Disney.
As always from Joe, this is spot on. Critically, Joe is not "going out on a limb" regarding the unacceptable attempt at what could be described as a research vendor coup by OpenAP to manage the JIC that "isn't" (it's a MOC, sort of!) and which OpenAP and the pseudo MOC clearly do not understand. As noted, research suppliers/vendors submit proposals based on the detailed RFP issued by the MOC or JIC. The JIC or MOC manage the entire research process including methodology and approaches, quality contol, and audits for the resulting agreed single media platform currency including its dissemination, access and pricing to the industry.
The MRC is a tri-partite industry auditing body but does not develop, manage or execute media currencies. Its membership does indeed reflect a typical JIC profile. The MRC also sets so called research "Standards" [sic], actually "Guidelines", that will directly effect any media platform currencies that apply for MRC accreditation. Such MRC Standards, which have regularly come under criticism, could be in conflict with the methodological approach(es) approved by the Techncial Committee of any JIC or MOC. This could make MRC potentially ineligible to execute the audit of the JIC currency based on their recent statement, "MRC's Standards must remain the sole evaluative criteria for MRC accreditation decisions".
To understand more about this JIC farrago you may wish to listen to my recent podcast #151 on asi. https://www.asiconferences.com/asicast-151-currency-measurement-at-a-crossroads-business-models-and-metrics/
What gets me is the claim that the "JIC" will hire a third party "audit firm" to verify the "accuracy" of the streaming data. You can verify that a rerearch firm did, indeed, have a sample base of XXXX thousand or XXXXXX million homes; you can verify that it attempted to obtain a probability sample of all TV homes in a certain way; you can verify that it weighted its panel members' responses in a stated manner, etc. etc. but how do you verify that the findings---whatever they may be---are "correct"?As for recruiting agency and advertisers as well as "working with" the ARF, 4As, ANA, IAB, VAB, etc. that sounds great, too, but what weight will any of these parties have in determining which "metrics" and sources are "certified"? And does anyone really believe that "audience"---probably OTS "impressions" ----will not win out in the end as the basic measurement?
A couple of quibbles.
Joe you wrote "JICs, as they operate in markets outside the U.S., normally are owned jointly by three sides of the ad industry -- advertisers, agencies and media owners". Not here in AU. The JIC is the advisory/steering committee for what is best for the specific medium being researched. They are a 'committee' and not a 'company'. Committees don't 'own' the IP or the end result. In the main, the relevant media owner bodies fund the research and hence own the research 'currency', and the agencies and advertisers then subscribe. A typical financial ratio is 80/20.
Ed, in AU the auditor doesn't verify the accuracy of the resulting data (that is the JIC's balliwick) but verifies the compliance to the 'rules' set by the JIC. The JIC meets regularly (typically monthly) to discuss irregularities, new media particpants, changing usage patterns, technical issues (especially for digital), validation of the panel size and composition etc.