605 Reasons There Will Be Fewer, Not More Alt Currencies

Even as the U.S. JIC (joint industry committee) pushes to surface and certify new alternative TV and "cross-platform" measurement currencies, a shakeout in that supply chain seems inevitable, and iSpot and 605 are the first to blink. Both those companies were among the half dozen alt currency providers to take the first step in that process, submitting RFI (request for information) to be evaluated by the JIC's scoring rubric.

That was three months ago, and while no news has been announced about the status of those certifications -- or whether other alt-currency suppliers have also stepped forward -- this morning's news that iSpot has acquired 605 has consolidated the potential supply chain a smidge.

Meanwhile, Nielsen, which so far has NOT submitted to the JIC for certification, continues to make noise about the steps it has been taking with the other U.S. industry currency certifier -- er, make that accreditor -- the Media Rating Council (MRC).



Nielsen's latest noise -- a letter sent to clients and statements released to the press late last week -- wasn't 100% clear, so let me set the record straight on the status of that.

In it, Nielsen said it disclosed a plan to the MRC to begin integrating first-party data into its accredited TV currency panel beginning this month and that it was in the process of responding to the MRC's feedback about that.

What it did not explicitly state -- but what recipients apparently were supposed to infer -- was that it scrapped the currency panel first-party data integration plan, at least for now.

In lieu of that, Nielsen did say it has already begun integrating first-party data into its Big Data service, which it separately has been lobbying the MRC to integrate with its currency panel.

The MRC audit committee is expected to meet soon to vote on whether to continue accrediting Nielsen's panel service if and when Nielsen begins calibrating it based on the Big Data service.

If you read between the lines here, the growth in alternative currencies most recently is not coming from Nielsen competitors, but from Nielsen itself: It now has one official currency -- the MRC accredited one -- and one alt currency, the Big Data one.

Time will tell whether it continues to have one, maybe two, or even none.

Meanwhile, while all the noise has been focused on Amazon Prime as the source of Nielsen's first-party data integration, Nielsen executives say they are open to other "publishers" to opt-in with first-party data of their own.

7 comments about "605 Reasons There Will Be Fewer, Not More Alt Currencies".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 13, 2023 at 9:23 a.m.

    Good one, Joe. As I keep pointing out, there never was any intent by the sellers who rule the so-called "JIC" --that there would be more than a single audience "currency". All of the other "currencies" featured a variety of mostly qualitative add-on metrics whereby any seller ---or buyer---could negotiate an extra set of quarantees on whatever "alternative" they wanted to use. There was never any desire to make any of these a standard for all buys.

    As regards Nielsen, I think that it is using the idea of offering two separate sets of "rating" data to force the issue as it knows that the sellers can't operate with different audience projections---"currencies"----with each picking the one that gives it the largest "audience"--but only for certain genres of program content----like the NFL games, but not prime time dramas or sitcoms. It will be interesting to see how this plays out---but I agree---many of the so-called alternative "currencies" may disappear and the sellers will continue to supply buyers with "impressions"---not any information about who---if anybody--- watched their commercials.

  2. Ed DeNicola from SceneSave, September 13, 2023 at 3:50 p.m.

    Thanks for the write-up, Joe. The alt currencies wiil need scale to compete with Nielsen and this deal makes sense from that perspective. On the other hand, it does nothing to provide these companies with a panel they can use to fix inherent flaws in their big data. They're in the same boat as they were before as it relates to being able to report currency-grade TV ratings. 

  3. John Grono from GAP Research, September 13, 2023 at 6:30 p.m.

    Large panels are pretty accurate for measuring what people are doing or thinking, and for generating data that usably reflect the population.

    Individual entities are very accurate with their own metrics but have various problems.   First, they generally reflect devices rather than people.   Second they tend to have their own metrics rather than industry defined standards.  Third, they know a lot about themselves but not the market.

    IMHO, in the video realm, the best approach is for video sources adhere to TVS (The Video Standard .. if only there was one) and that data be used concurrently with a large panel, as that would produce equivalent data metrics, reduce bias, provide mass, and most importantly overlapping usage, so that reliable de-duplicated usage data is available for all media buyers while the seller can still beat their chest with their internal data and how they can better fit the target audience.

  4. Richard Marks from Research The Media, September 14, 2023 at 4:25 a.m.

    So the great consolidation begins. They all buy each other and then Nielsen buys what is left. A familiar pattenr...

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 14, 2023 at 10:05 a.m.

    More likely the other way around, Richard---the remaining ad time sellers will buy Nielsen.

  6. John Grono from GAP Research, September 14, 2023 at 4:22 p.m.

    I was thinking the same thing Ed .... more likely that Elliott Investment Management and Brookfield Business Partners could sell Nielsen to the highest bidder ... which could provide a very interesting scenario regading independent media measurement.

  7. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, September 14, 2023 at 7:08 p.m.

    From my Media Post Op Ed March 29 2023 when this alt-currency imbroglio developed, I wrote the following:
    "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."
    That Media Post and the highly esteemed Joe Mandese, continue to essentially condone the abuse of this global term with its long established core principles and parameters (which my company OMC is carefully reviewing thanks to international collaboration) is beyond puzzling.  Quite frankly its abuse is an insult to those of us who have worked so hard via a real JIC structure in producing an industry accepted single trading currency for any medium.
    My European colleagues who are aware of this farrago are beyond puzzled and appear to be politely laughing at the TV/Video measurement industry here.  Some like the media research  guru, Richard Marks (above), have already figured the likely outcome of all this alt-currency manoeuvring albeit Ed Papazian may have the final "answer"?  However Ed, having the Ad Sellers own the rating service and remembering the evolution of the MRC, surely that would be antitrust?  Stay tuned for a wild ride!!!


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