Nielsen will not participate in the “joint industry committee" (JIC) formed to certify audience measurement suppliers unless “fundamental legal, operational and scientific issues” are resolved.
Karthik Rao, CEO of global audience measurement at Nielsen, notified the JIC of that stance in a letter sent last week to David Levy, CEO of OpenAP, the network-owned advanced advertising company with which the JIC is working.
The JIC was formed in January by TV-based media companies including NBCUniversal, Paramount Global, Fox Corp., TelevisaUnivision, Warner Bros. Discovery, A+E Networks, AMC Networks and Hallmark Media. Roku and several media agency holding groups have since joined the group.
In March, the JIC issued baseline requirements for cross-platform audience measurement services to be certified as currencies by the JIC, and formally invited several services to participate in the certification process: Comscore, Nielsen, SambaTV, TVSquared, VideoAmp, 605 and iSpot.TV.
Participating services’ RFPs were due to be filed by Friday.
The JIC is set to hold a pre-upfronts presentation on April 27 in New York City to update its work and provide a first look at the “architecture” of its new streaming data service.
While praising the JIC for contributing to discussion of measurement issues, Nielsen disagrees with the group’s premise that data from set-top boxes (STBs) and smart TVs is superior to panel-based data. Nielsen One, currently in rollout, uses STB and ACR “big data” and a proprietary identity solution, validated against its nationwide panel.
Nielsen also has concerns about the JIC’s certification standards, and how its certification will relate to the measurement industry’s existing auditing/self-regulatory body, the Media Rating Council (MRC). The JIC has said that it does not seek to replace the MRC, but it does not appear the JIC will require that certified services also be MRC-audited.
“Only a subset of industry participants created the JIC standards, and significant media companies either were not invited to participate or have chosen not to participate,” Rao wrote to OpenAP’s Levy. “And we don’t see how a company owned by a consortium of industry players [OpenAP], vs the independent, nonprofit status of most JICs around the world, can manage this.”
The MRC last week announced that it had reinstated accreditation for Nielsen’s national TV measurement service. Earlier this month, it announced that Nielsen arch-rival Comscore had lost accreditation for its Media Metrix digital desktop audience measurement service.
Rao added that once the JIC addresses the issues raised by Nielsen, Nielsen “would be delighted to engage in thoughtful dialogue and reconsider our position.” Nielsen also hopes that “the offer still stands to participate” in the JIC’s April 27 meeting, as Nielsen remains interested in “learning and better understanding what this new committee is thinking about.”
In an initial statement in response to Nielsen, the JIC said that some of Rao’s concerns stem from “inaccuracies and misinterpretations” of the JIC’s role.
“The JIC is moving with velocity to bring transparency to the currency readiness of new cross-platform measurement solutions and to define common standards so that we can ultimately have more competition across multiple currencies,” the group said. “The baseline requirements are aggregated feedback developed in a cross-industry collaborative forum with media agencies, publishers, streaming platforms and trade bodies having equal voice on what is needed to safely and responsibly transition a multibillion-dollar marketplace. Collaboration is the only way to move this industry forward. We believe that there is an important role for Nielsen and we encourage them to join JIC members and all other measurement companies under the tent to listen to feedback and respond on how they are going to address their customers’ concerns.”
The JIC “believes that all solutions must be subject to the same level of scrutiny so that buyers and sellers have confidence transacting,” the group added. “No one measurement company should be able to influence the requirements to benefit their bid for certification over their competition.”
The JIC said that a formal statement would be released today.