Home CTV Roundup How To Measure TV And Video Viewership When Every Currency Is Different

How To Measure TV And Video Viewership When Every Currency Is Different


Two weeks after the Media Rating Council accredited Comscore for national and local audience measurement in March, the broadcaster-backed joint industry committee (JIC) certified both Comscore and VideoAmp as national TV currencies. Meanwhile, Nielsen and iSpot tout their own competitive advantages.

Now that alternative currencies have passed the initial sniff tests, how should buyers and sellers compare their viewership numbers?

The leaders of the four most popular TV currencies – Nielsen, Comscore, iSpot and VideoAmp – gathered onstage during the Coalition of Innovative Media Measurement summit on Wednesday to try to answer that question.

And the answer lies with one of the advertising industry’s favorite buzzwords: first-party data.

Can TV currencies standardize data?

One of the big concerns about Nielsen alternatives is their measurement disparities. In one high-profile example, Nielsen’s and iSpot’s viewership count for the Super Bowl differed by roughly 3 million viewers.

How can ad buyers and sellers determine which currency measures their campaigns most accurately without a way to standardize the reporting?

One option is for currencies to collaborate by sharing some data and thus bring their numbers closer together.

But when CIMM Managing Director Jon Watts asked Nielsen, Comscore, iSpot and VideoAmp whether they would consider that option during CIMM’s event on Wednesday, the consensus was a resounding “No.”

TV currencies embrace their differences

The competition in the TV measurement market wouldn’t exist if each company were doing the same thing and attempting to land on the same numbers, responded Karthik Rao, CEO of Nielsen’s audience measurement division.


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Each video currency has its own particular selling points, and a vendor’s specialty affects how it chooses to integrate data sets. Comscore has one measurement platform for national and local TV to make local ads more accessible for small businesses, for example, while Nielsen keeps the two separate because it collects slightly different set-top box data to represent local audiences.

Reporting also differs depending on whether vendors provide impression-level measurement or ratings based on average commercial minutes (or both), said iSpot Founder and CEO Sean Muller.

The number of variables involved in a vendor’s methodology creates a natural disparity between competitors, Muller said. Advertisers use these differences to their advantage by choosing a currency that aligns with their priorities, he added.

Calling for consistency

Still, buyers and sellers need some sort of standardization to feel confident transacting on alternative currencies.

Advertisers can expect more consistency from their measurement partners as brands build up more first-party data and incorporate it into media planning, Muller said. With first-party data, measurement companies can better attribute the viewership overlap between streaming services to provide deduped reach and frequency.

The JIC, for example, is building a streaming data product that includes first-party audience and viewership data from programmers and agencies. As JIC-certified currencies, Comscore and VideoAmp will have access to this data product when it launches next year.

Nielson is not part of JIC, but it is forging its own partnerships to accommodate calls for standardization.

Nielsen made efforts to integrate Amazon’s streaming data into its ratings for Thursday Night Football last year, for instance, Rao said. Although it ultimately scrapped its plan to force Amazon streaming data into its endorsed currency product due to pushback from other programmers.

The path ahead

The JIC aside, currency providers agree they need more first-party data to ensure they have statistically significant and consistent forecasting capabilities for streaming campaigns.

First-party data also unlocks the TV metrics advertisers care about most, which are often online and/or in-store sales lift, said Peter Liguori, executive chairman at VideoAmp.

For example, Walmart’s pending acquisition of Vizio creates an opportunity for measurement providers to tie TV ad exposures to actual purchases.

These types of acquisitions and partnerships introduce more ways for measurement providers to access first-party data and connect the entire purchase funnel, Liguori said.

Long story short, TV measurement is still a mess. But at least it’s a more organized mess.

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