Feb 23 2022
Media Coverage

Discovery, OMG in Currency Tests with Comscore, VideoAmp

Network, buyer eye alternative to Nielsen for upfront

By Jon Lafayette

Discovery and media buyer Omnicom Media Group said they would be conducting a trail of using viewing data from several measurement companies including Comscore and VideoAmp as the currency used for buying and selling TV advertising—a role dominated by Nielsen for decades.

Discovery and Omnicom said they aim to be able to use alternate currencies in time for the upcoming upfront market.

While the industry has always had complaints about Nielsen, networks now appear to be serious about finding more up-to-date ways to measure audiences, partly because of Nielsen’s recent troubles.

Nielsen was found to have undercounted national and local audiences during the pandemic, which led to Nielsen losing the accreditation from the Media Rating Council–the industry’s seal of approval. It also admitted to not including some out-of-home viewing in its national ratings.

NBCUniversal sent out requests for proposals for fresh measurement approaches. It is evaluating six companies as potential providers of cross-platform audience measurement. iSpot.TV emerged as the front-runner and NBCU engaged iSpot to provide metrics for its first-quarter programming including the Olympics and Super Bowl.

Paramount, formerly ViacomCBS, said it was working with media buying agency dentsu to use data from VideoAmp as currency in first quarter deals. And WarnerMedia said it was developing currencies using Comscore, iSpot and VideoAmp. WarnerMedia is being spun off by AT&T and combined with Discovery in a deal expected to close in the second quarter.

The Walt Disney Co. is working with Nielsen on Nielsen’s new approach to measurement, Nielsen One.

“As we head into the upfront season, it is vital that we work with our clients who believe they have an idea that might improve upon the current status quo in measurement.” said Jon Steinlauf, chief U.S. ad sales officer, Discovery. “This pilot program with OMG ensures our partners can test best-of-breed measurement solutions as well as trial new linear TV currencies, which will be an important first step towards transitioning to an eventual accredited person-based cross-platform currency.”  

“Understanding that the video currency of the future has to better align with our advertisers’ objectives, we need to be transacting cross-platform on metrics that directly relate to our advertisers’ audiences and are reliably measured,” added Geoff Calabrese, chief investment officer of Omnicom Media Group. “OMG’s partnership with Discovery will accelerate our ability to deliver on this imperative for our clients.”

Discovery and OMG said the trial is currently in progress across multiple advertiser categories and evaluates linear delivery for OMG clients via several measurement services. Comscore and VideoAmp will serve as the video measurement services for an initial set of advertisers, including AT&T and State Farm.

“We are proud to participate in the currency initiatives undertaken to advance the accuracy and evolution of media measurement,” said Carol Hinnant, chief revenue officer, Comscore. “We have invested in our media solutions to ensure that the buy-side and sell-side will have stable, predictable and accredited choices for measurement now and in the future.”

“Our currency-grade TV Viewership dataset, which commingles set-top box and smart TV data into a unified footprint for linear measurement across 39 million households provides accurate data on which buyers and sellers can transact said Michael Parkes, president of VideoAmp. “With VideoAmp measurement as currency, advertisers can now transact on age and gender, advanced audiences and cross-platform as well as understand attribution.”