‘Self-serving’ or progressive? 3 data marketing experts on the big US video measurement pact

News broke last week of Fox, NBCUniversal, Warner Bros and Paramount uniting on video measurement standards. Industry experts question who this actually benefits.

Last week, news broke from advertising firm OpenAP of its partnership with media giants Fox, NBCUniversal, Paramount, TelevisaUnivision, Warner Bros. Discovery in a Joint Industry Committee (JIC) with the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB).

The US initiative intends to unify video measurement across platforms in advance of the 2024 TV upfronts, and the members are expecting more of their programming peers to join the committee. 

However, not all media and TV advertisers are as optimistic, with some sceptical about the success of such an alliance between the biggest players in the industry.

PMW spoke to a panel of media and TV experts to uncover what the committee really means for the industry.

“Is this the big TV companies coming together to protect their legacy businesses?”

“The creation of the JIC is a sign that the major broadcasters are waking up to the fact that they can’t rely on legacy measurement platforms like Nielsen – particularly after it lost its MRC accreditation – and alternative solutions have become critical,” says Steven Filler, UK Country Manager at video solutions provider ShowHeroes Group.

“The programmers are also seeing more and more ad dollars flowing to the tech giants and streaming platforms, where more sophisticated audience measurement technologies are often already on offer or being developed. On the face of it, the JIC’s drive for standardisation is great for the industry. Any initiatives to help create common currencies is a positive step to help brands invest more.

“But is this just the big TV companies coming together to protect their legacy businesses rather than help progress the industry, mirroring the more self-serving moves by the tech companies? If it is, then the JIC faces an uphill struggle.”

“Alliances in media and tech aren’t punctuated by many successes”

“As the video industry transforms from broadcast to unicast, this announcement is another milestone on a long-term migration path that programmers are taking to give themselves additional leverage and control in the marketplace,” says Andrew Rosenman, Global Product Marketing Lead, AdvancedTV and Video, Equativ. 

“While exciting, it raises questions around how these media sellers will use alternative currencies as they sell into an upfront marketplace 18 months from now. Given the declining perceived value of the 2023 upfronts by advertisers, it’s unclear whether introducing an unknown variable really increases the desirability of upfront buying or if it even enhances the upfront proposition.

Rosenman adds: “For advertisers who have built planning models predicated on Nielsen audiences, it may become challenging to have concurrent campaigns with some participants in the new OpenAP consortium – using their new metrics while maintaining other TV campaigns with partners who remain committed to Nielsen as a sole source. It’s important also to recognise the declining scale that these networks represent in a world where emerging free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels and digital platforms, like YouTubeTV, are rapidly gaining share and control. 

“Finally, the history of alliances and consortia in media and tech isn’t punctuated by many successes. If this group can push standards forward that rights owners beyond their circle can embrace – and that are accepted and supported by the advertisers themselves – then this will be looked back on as an important step towards evolving TV advertising to be a more valuable product for brands.”

Data disconnect between viewership and action

With Netflix recently joining the UK’s JIC, BARB, we can see collaboration increasing across the UK market as well as the US,” comments Will Keggin, Director of Advanced Advertising, LiveRamp.

“However, while data gives advertisers viewing figures, there is still a disconnect between the viewing data and the action. The future of measurement in TV ultimately relies on data connected to the consumer, but to unlock the full value of addressability, viewership data needs to be connected to business outcomes such as sales, visits, and leads. 

“A JIC is a great start as it offers greater transparency and insight to advertisers. But ultimately, tools like identity will be what enables better outcomes for content producers, TV platforms, advertisers, and end consumers, as this is what will truly enable measurement across all of the touchpoints where consumers are.”

“Challenging the growing dominance of tech companies”

 “The programmers have to remember that the video and streaming ecosystem has become incredibly complex,” continues Filler. “Traditional broadcasters now only represent a small piece of the pie.

“If any tools or currencies are to have true cross-platform reach, providing advertisers with the scale they need, the JIC will have to open itself up to collaboration with the wider video industry, allowing a range of voices to inform the development of standards.

“The space has become overly fragmented, with too many players offering or developing conflicting solutions. If the JIC can be open from the start, it stands the chance of playing a central role in creating currencies with universal applicability, creating a healthier broadcast/video ecosystem, driving more investment from advertisers and helping to challenge the growing dominance of the tech companies.”