Advanced Television

NBCU: ‘Liberate us from outdated measurement’

August 24, 2021

By Colin Mann

A senior NBCUniversal executive has suggested that although the media and technology landscape has completely transformed over the last few years, advertising measurement remains outdated, proposing that it is time for the industry to declare measurement independence.

“Here’s something we all know,” writes Kelly Abcarian, EVP, Measurement & Impact, NBCUniversal, Advertising and Partnerships in an Open Letter to the industry. “Advertising measurement is outdated. Just scroll through the media headlines and it’s impossible to avoid. An Olympics that saw both record consumer engagement and ratings declines. A high-profile dispute over box office numbers and streaming audiences. Or as the Media Rating Council’s Board considers Nielsen’s accreditation fate,” she notes.

According to Abcarian, this problem is hardly new. “The media and technology landscape has completely transformed over the last few years—yet measurement remains outdated. Why? Because the advertising industry has not adapted and it’s holding us back,” she suggests.

“But that’s not our fate. We can construct a better, more transparent future. And we need all our industry’s builders -including Nielsen – to architect an entirely new blueprint. It’s time for us to declare measurement independence, and build solutions that will serve all consumers, advertisers, publishers, and platforms for the next century,” she states.

#MeasurementIndependence Puts the Consumer First

“‘Putting the consumer first’ is too important to become a hollow phrase,” she contends. “When companies depend on outdated advertising measurement, diverse and dynamic consumer behaviors get ignored. Meanwhile, consumer experience suffers with things like cluttered ad spaces. We should put people over ratings,” she asserts.

“If consumers can embrace layers of complexity, then our industry should too. If there are multiple viewing experiences, then we need multiple yardsticks. For example, we can work towards a universal identity to raise standards, and give marketers new tools to personalise and optimise their campaigns across platforms and programmers,” she advises.

“Interoperability, in a consumer safe and privacy compliant way, is the future of our industry, and the fastest road to measurement independence and a better consumer experience. In this fragmented landscape, we all understand different pieces of the consumer experience. So, let’s make it whole. We just need to embrace new sources of identity signals and make data more accessible and actionable, because that unified picture will give us the ability to follow the consumer’s lead,” she says.

#MeasurementIndependence Will Bust Open the Doors of Media Innovation

“Any good marketer follows its consumer in constant pursuit of new innovation. But if we rely on outdated metrics, innovation in media slows down too,” she observes. “Old measurement incentivises old methods—stifling more modern approaches and creative risk-taking. Just imagine the media innovations or partnerships we’ve scrapped because we didn’t have the measurement to celebrate its true value.”

“Without a way to measure an idea’s impact, innovative teams have a choice: stop developing new media experiences, or build new measurement. Social and streaming platforms chose independence over a single metric because it enabled them to pursue consumer-led innovation. Now the entire media industry can do the same,” she says.

“Measurement independence frees up innovation. It will require collaboration with measurement and data partners who can measure success outside the traditional box. Fortunately, there’s a growing list of measurement and data partners who are ready to support the next generation of innovations—from content and commerce, to cross-platform and publisher collaborations, and more,” she notes.

#MeasurementIndependence Will Redefine Impact for Advertisers and Publishers

“Finally, advertisers and publishers are in search of improved measurement solutions. Because when they meet at the negotiating table, they depend on third-party measurement to help define value and impact. The reasons are clear: Marketers want their impact in today’s terms. Meanwhile, for publishers, the gaps in measurement are gaps in what can be monetised,” she suggests.

“Measurement independence will create more modern, transparent, and reliable measurement standards,” she asserts. “Interoperable data sets will produce better inputs, more ways to de-duplicate data and new methods to measure any KPI. With more comprehensive and trustworthy standards, advertisers can confidently shift from ratings to results, and move closer to measuring what matters — impact.”

Declaring #MeasurementIndependence and Taking Action

“By declaring measurement independence, we can build a new, global currency that reflects consumer behavior accurately and values content fairly,” she maintains. “We can level up the playing field with more datasets and multiple yardsticks for multiple kinds of impact.”

“For our part, NBCUniversal is bringing together a broad network of trusted partners to help modernise the industry’s approach. We’re in the process of assembling a full suite of interoperable measurement solutions that are as advanced, diverse, easy-to-use, and multi-platform as the ways people watch content. And we’ll share more updates on the steps we’re taking in the next few weeks. In this new era, more measurement options and collaboration will drive the future of content and advertising forward,” she concludes.


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