How Measuring The Summer Olympics Won iSpot The NBCU Alternate Currency Test

During the Summer Olympics, iSpot went for gold – and won.

The alternate measurement provider bested more than 50 companies NBCUniversal was trialing as a currency alternative to Nielsen. The testing ground? NBCU’s tentpole global sports event.

“NBC didn’t just invite companies to submit RFP responses,” said Sean Muller, founder and CEO of iSpot.tv. “It actually invited those companies to come and measure during the Summer Olympics [retroactively].”

But it turned out only a small handful of those companies were actually able to even deliver coherent measurement above a certain standard, according to Muller.

iSpot’s ability to capture audiences both accurately and in real time is what ultimately sealed the deal, Muller believes. Plus, it’s not the first time the two have partnered up – NBCUniversal and iSpot.tv first worked together in 2014 to monetize smart TV data and again in 2018 to commercialize outcome-based measurement.

Publicis Media will be the first holdco to pilot iSpot – for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and the Super Bowl LVI next month. As part of a three-year deal announced January 13, iSpot will receive the designation “Certified Measurement Partner,” quantifying reach and impressions across NBC’s One Platform.

The new playing field

While iSpot landed atop NBCU’s initial RFP to over 50 companies (including Nielsen), which received over 100 responses, winning the alternate currency test is more like advancing to the semifinals.

iSpot doesn’t see a future where its tech becomes the single new standard.

“We’re just coming out from of a monopoly,” Muller said, referring to Nielsen, “and our goal isn’t to create another one.”

Monopolies always make for complacency, not change.

“When you have a monopoly in any market, you don’t get a lot of innovation,” Muller said. “A monopoly just takes its time and doesn’t really innovate.”

The future of TV measurement won’t hinge on a single winner, Muller believes.

That’s certainly NBCUniversal’s plan. The programmer expects to add a couple more measurement partners to its Measurement Innovation Forum upon certification.

A more open playing field allows new competitors to bring new ideas to the table – which the TV ecosystem desperately needs.

The industry doesn’t just need cross-screen measurement in CTV and streaming – it needs modern, speedy reporting to back it up, Muller said. It also needs to be able to measure ads independently from the programming – ads don’t travel with their programs like they used to on linear TV, Muller added.

“[From] out-of-home measurement [to] quick shifts between linear and streaming, addressable advertising is only getting more and more complex,” said Muller. “It’s harder than ever to measure. That’s why we need a new currency.”

According to Muller, iSpot can meet these needs. “But standards are still independent of providing the currency itself,” he added.

In other words, individual leaders aren’t substitutes for communal standards.

“There has to be a set of standards everyone abides by, and standards should be something we all agree on as an industry,” Muller said. “Measurement companies have an important role in defining those standards, but they aren’t synonymous.”

Although iSpot won this initial test phase of the deal, it believes it’ll be one of a handful of alternate currency providers adopted by buyers and sellers. “This [deal is a] commitment to a multicurrency world,” Muller said.

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