When Is A JIC Not A JIC? When It's A MCCC

The U.S. TV/video measurement industry has been misusing and abusing the term “JIC,” or joint industry committee, for some time.

As someone who has held a wide variety of roles with various JICs, as well as on their technical committees and boards worldwide, the record needs to be set straight so that long established expectations are met.  

The current U.S. “alternative currency” measurement initiative is a multi-currency certifying committee, or a “MCCC.”  No more, no less. And that raises serious issues.  

A JIC is a fully independent, professionally staffed, not-for-profit, multi-partite organization that owns, develops, manages, and markets a single, credible trading currency for an ad medium on behalf of the industry.  Full industry participation and control!  

JICs embrace the highest audience measurement principles and standards.  The underlying research is typically executed by a consortium of research suppliers selected by the JIC via an extremely stringent RFP process.  



JIC funding is generally provided ~75% by the media sellers and ~25% by the demand-side  (advertisers and agencies) who, to avoid seller conflicts-of-interest, have board control.

Data licensing, publishing policies, pricing, third-party processor access and ongoing funding are all managed by the JIC staff.  Naturally a JIC works best when all media owners and the major media agencies participate.

JICs have been around for a long time in media measurement providing robust currency – singular! – for major media based on their unequivocal value, reputation, and industry-neutral structure.

This needs to be recognized and respected in the U.S.  

One of many examples of JIC operations, is BARB (Broadcasters Audience Research Board) in the U.K., which measures “fit-for-TV” content, and like all true JICs, produces and owns the measurement data at cost, thereby delivering unrivaled value for their money.  

Another special JIC example is Geopath here in the U.S.  It has produced leading edge “eyes-on” (visibility adjusted contacts [VACs]) currency for out-of-home media for more than 14 years and conforms to the latest World Out-of-Home Organization audience measurement global guidelines.

As a JIC, owning the research and data, Geopath has also saved the industry millions versus various for-profit alternatives.  

Now that JICs are properly defined, what are some of the current TV/video media measurement and currency issues and questions?  

The suspicion remains that many will still have to buy Nielsen data as “a basic truth set” (per Havas Media Group Global Managing Director Jon Waite) for basic trading and that these other “currency” services will be used as unquestionably valuable toppings on the Nielsen pizza.

That is madness. In an “alt currency world,” the Nielsen model remains: with the vendor owning the data; not the industry itself.

So, does the U.S. MCCC become just the midwife to a brood of baby Nielsens?  

A true JIC would ensure cost savings that could be reinvested in a single service rather than having the market spread its money across multiple, competing services.  

One might suspect that all the various alt currencies to be potentially “certified” here in the U.S. and then accredited by the Media Rating Council (MRC) –  at a huge additional expense and a possible conflict as MRC advises the ANA’s cross-media measurement involving video IDs (VIDs) – will cost significantly more in total than even Nielsen, whose costs have always been considered egregious.  Difficult to judge.  

Reflecting the ongoing value of JICs, there is no monopoly. They tender processes every three to five years, or so.  Choice is baked in.  This has been consistently proven to be a far more logical way of bringing “choice” to the market than the anarchy, chaos, and confusion of running multiple “currencies” in parallel.  

Has the MCCC reinvented the MRC by issuing a form of research vendor “certification” – an MRC lite?  Will it reassure the market and sanction their use of services that cannot afford, or maybe would never have earned an MRC accreditation?  Would this really be reassuring to advertisers and media agencies? 

Interestingly, JICs argue that they do not need to be audited, as their professional researchers, technicians, software gurus and experienced media research staff continuously monitor data quality and fulfillment of contracted specifications.  

At the recent insightful Paramount Advertising “Measurement Now” conference the total ignorance regarding JICs – and their misrepresentation – continued courtesy of almost every speaker, many of whom know better!  This was accompanied by a myriad of definitions – at least implied – of “media audience,” which generally reflected how each speaker would want to skew any of the “alt-currencies” and how they were measured to their particular advantage.

Speaking forthrightly at the Paramount event, Publicis Media Director of National Video Intelligence Sam Armando admitted he did not fully understand the proposed “MCCC” structure or value, and expressed deep concern that different companies could produce the “same metric with very different values.”  

After pleading for standardized terms and definitions – which JICs inherently do for the entire industry – Armando surely earned the last word on this farrago inside an imbroglio.  

“Be scared!”

4 comments about "When Is A JIC Not A JIC? When It's A MCCC".
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  1. Ted Mcconnell from Independent Consultant, March 29, 2023 at 11:55 a.m.

    Right on. It's beyond me why big advertisers are not fighting for a real JIC. They have been begging for simplicity for years.  Agencies benefit from the complexity because a) it makes customers more dependent on them, and b) it creates a need for more people. It's a perfect stalemate.  The advertisers want simplicity but they want agencies to do the work.  Into the middle run media companies. The industry association could play a role but they are afraid of the legal implications.  The MRC could do something but they make money from complexity.  So, in the end, advertisers, afraid if their own shadow and unwilling to take responsibility are inadvertently letting the fox rule the henhouse.   Who loses ??  Consumers and advertisers.  

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 29, 2023 at 12:26 p.m.

    Tony, as you know, I agree. However it's important to note that the so-called "JIC" that we are getting upset about is not advocating that any of its "certified" alternative "currencies" really be a  alternative to what will wind up as the industry standard for "audience"---namely something much like---if not exaactly like ----what Nielsen is proposing for its new service. This is where the real probem is. We are heading for a "big data" system in which ACR and/or STB panels involving millions of homes will become the base for device usage "impressions"---namely the ad is on-screen. That's what the sellers ---both traditional TV and streaming---want---providng all screens are measured---and that's what it will be.

    As for the so-called" alternative "currencies" these will be nothing more than sales promotional tools for individual sellers to exploit----when they find a seller who is willing to play---and pay---not as alternatives but as add-on "currencies". No standardization regarding how or when these "currencies"  will  be used is envisioned, and it is clear that there will be no consistency between sellers on this---each is free to play the game anyway they chose---or not at all.

    My point is this. A real JIC set up in the U.S. would have as its primary concern determining what the standards for basic "audience" measurement should be. It would not be involved with "alternative" types of measurements ---pupil dilations, CTR rates, brain wave indicators, sales lifts, etc. as these are not being used by everyone and each seller has, in effect, veto power over which ---if any is employed. So by focusing so much on the "alternative currencies"---which I see as a smoke screen hiding the much bigger issue---what should be the ideal national TV rating service--we are going to get nowhere.

    Meanwhile the real question---which I fear is already decided---is will commercial attentiveness be part of the standard design for our national TV rating service? At this point, the answer seems to be definitely not. That means that all we will get is "impressions" based on millions of screens---not thousands---but still no information about who---if anybody---was watching. To fix this we need a real JIC.

  3. Tim Brooks from consultant, March 29, 2023 at 4:39 p.m.

    A "farrago inside an imbroglio"? I love it!!

  4. John Grono from GAP Research, March 29, 2023 at 6:59 p.m.

    Who'd thunk I would agree.

    As an example of how this works is in AU, the industry body is OzTAM which is owned by the 'big three' commercial broadcasters (though not as big as they were some 20-25 years ago when OzTAM was created).   Nielsen TAM (ex ATR Australia then AGB Nielsen Media Research) does all the recruitment, field work, data injection and processing for OzTAM.

    Outside of the 'big three' the public broadcasters et. al. are paying subscribers.   The media agencies are paying subscribers proportionate to their ad expenditure.   Other third-parties can also subscribe.

    The key is that they have monthly committee meetings with all of the broadcasters (owner and subscriber) and representation from the Media Federation of Australia (MFA), plus the independent auditor.   The primary discussions tend to be ... what can we do next to improve the service ... such as the soon-to-be-released VOZ.

    JICs are definitely the way to go.

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