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Home / Industry / Media /  NBCUniversal names iSpot.tv as partner in new approach to measurement

NBCUniversal has tapped iSpot.tv Inc., a company that aims to help advertisers verify the reach and impact of their TV and streaming ads, as it seeks to better quantify how consumers are viewing ads across different mediums.

iSpot was one of the measurement vendors that answered a request for proposals last year from NBCUniversal, a unit of Comcast Corp., to help the company build a new measurement framework. The new multiyear agreement between the companies brings the media company a new system for verifying ads and programming on linear and streaming video.

The effort comes as the television advertising business is undergoing major changes, with viewership increasingly shifting from traditional TV to streaming platforms. Traditional media companies including NBCUniversal want to improve the tools they offer marketers to analyze their media buys in the shifting environment.

It also comes as confidence in TV ratings company Nielsen, which has dominated its field for decades, has been shaken. The Media Rating Council, the media industry’s measurement watchdog, last year pulled its accreditation for Nielsen’s national and local TV ratings.

“Never before has the entire television industry been this open to moving to a range of measurement alternatives versus only using a singular currency," Kelly Abcarian, executive vice president of measurement and impact at NBCUniversal, said in an email. NBCU says iSpot will provide metrics that buyers and sellers will be able to use as an alternative currency.

NBCUniversal has worked with iSpot since 2014, and in 2018 announced a project with iSpot to show brands certain business outcomes—such as increases in web visits or sales—that result from their ads.

The company has now expanded that relationship by naming iSpot as its first “certified measurement partner" as part of its request for proposals, or RFP, process. Ms. Abcarian said the designation was designed to be akin to those in the digital world, where players such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook share data with approved partners.

NBCUniversal said it plans to add more such partners. That could include Nielsen, which both companies said also answered the RFP. Nielsen is testing a cross-platform media measurement system that it said would launch later this year and said it plans to fully transition to its cross-media metric in 2024.

NBCUniversal, which ran an internal test with iSpot during the Summer Olympics last year, will bring ad buyers into new tests in February during its coverage of the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Ms. Abcarian said iSpot’s technology allows the company to update an Olympics dashboard that helps advertisers see their reach on linear and digital by noon the following day.

Next-day reporting “puts us on a level playing field with digital, who is able to create next-day insights for advertisers," she said in an interview. “We think [putting] linear on that same playing field is pretty critical, especially when you think about…an event like the Olympics where you’ve got 17 days to make decisions against billions of dollars."

The tests will inform the company’s next steps as the television industry approaches the upfronts, its annual spring negotiations with buyers over commercials in the coming TV season.

Publicis Groupe’s Publicis Media will be the first media holding company to test the measurement.

“We’ve seen the viewing landscape change so tremendously and so quickly, and Covid accelerated all those changes," said John Muszynski, chairman of Publicis Media Exchange in the U.S. “We now have to accelerate the measurement change to really see what the impact is of this change in consumer behavior."

The weeks ahead will be important, said Stacey Stewart, U.S. chief marketplace officer at Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned media agency UM. TV advertisers that have traditionally bought inventory using Nielsen ratings are considering whether they should buy more using outcomes beyond ratings points, she said.

“I think the next month or so is going to be really telling as we get ready for the next upfront," Ms. Stewart said. “What are the different currencies of measurement that we’re all going to test and look at for the upfront? What we’re all working on right now is figuring out how do we tackle the test-and-learn going into that."

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text

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