Future of TV Briefing: Measurement currency combatants take center stage at IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting

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This week’s Future of TV Briefing recaps a contentious session on measurement from the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting.

  • Measurement war
  • Paramount’s cost-cutting, TikTok’s shoppable video test, Twitch’s monetization terms and more

Measurement war

The measurement war is still on, as was made pretty apparent during the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting this week in Marco Island, Florida. 

Comscore, iSpot.tv and VideoAmp have been going head to head with Nielsen, and on Monday the heads of the four measurement currency contenders went face to face – and, in some cases, at each other’s throats – during an on-stage session.

“Panels are deader than they were two years ago,” said VideoAmp executive chairman Peter Liguori, taking aim at Nielsen’s panel-based legacy measurement system. 

His comments were in response to an opening question from moderator and IAB CEO David Cohen asking what has changed in the past two years in the measurement and currency space.

Before Liguori answered, Nielsen CEO Karthik Rao said that “panels were dead back then, apparently… and now they’re back again in two years.” 

Clearly, Liguori disagreed. And it would not be the only time the leaders of Nielsen and VideoAmp set themselves in opposition during the session. 

Liguori – who had sold Gracenote to Nielsen in 2016 while serving as CEO and president of Tribune Media – seemed to seek out any and all opportunity to see Nielsen “with some screws put to them,” which was what he said he expects to happen when Nielsen has to renegotiate its contracts with TV networks and agencies while dealing with debt and facing pressure from investment banks.

“You’re going to be entering a world where you have $11 [billion to] $13 billion in debts. It’s not going to be easy to service that. It’s not going to be easy to service investment banks, PE firms that are selling you for parts,” Liguori said.

“I would like Nielsen One to be in market right now — or, as we call it, Elliott One,” Liguori said, referencing the investment management firm that led the acquisition of debt-laden Nielesn in 2022.

Rao didn’t really take the bait to go after Liguori in kind, though. At one point, Liguori said that he’d like to see Nielsen One – Nielsen’s updated measurement system – to be in market and jibed, “or, as we call it, Elliott One,” referencing the investment management firm that led the acquisition of debt-laden Nielesn in 2022. Rao responded by saying that Nielsen One for ads is in market and Nielsen One for content and planning is slated to roll out this year.

In what seemed to be Rao’s most direct knock at VideoAmp, he responded to Liguori’s debt comments by saying, “Whether we’re well-capitalized or not, I think is sort of irrelevant. I think there are many others who are struggling with capitalization challenges out there,” said Rao. That comment would seem to apply to VideoAmp, which laid off 20% of its employees earlier this month in a move that saw its CEO step down and Liguori step in as executive chairman and which followed a round of layoffs in September.

At another point in the session – after saying that VideoAmp “will write $1 billion worth of currency this year” – Liguori said that “the number one frustration I hear is Nielsen, which is why a number of clients asked us to do secondary measurement so that they can prove to their clients the efficiency, the targeting, the measurability of us versus legacy.”

Following Liguori’s comments, Rao said, “there is absolutely a role for secondary forms of measurement.” A comment I took to mean: “VideoAmp or whoever can absolutely be number-two to Nielsen.”

At this point, I should mention that Comscore CEO Jon Carpenter and iSpot.tv CEO Sean Muller were also on stage. Neither were nearly as aggressive as Liguori in going after their primary competitor. Instead they used their stage time to primarily tout their own measurement products, such as Comscore’s planned cross-platform measurement product and iSpot.tv’s streaming measurement capabilities. That said, there did seem to be some jabs taken.

In response to Cohen’s question about what changed in the past two years, Carpenter said, “The notion that broad-based demos and GRP as proxy for audience just don’t work,” in an apparent reference to Nielsen’s legacy measurement system.

“Right now a lot of the value of traditional TV sits in this currency of the past,” Muller said in a response to a question about how radically measurement may change in this year’s upfront marketplace.

For all the combativeness on stage, there was one moment of almost harmony. Given the death of the third-party cookie was the top topic of conversation during ALM, Cohen asked if the cookie’s deprecation has any bearing on the measurement companies’ businesses. 

“No,” said Liguori.

“Same thing,” said Rao in a moment of, dare I say, agreement.

What we’ve heard

“You could argue there’s too much content out there in too many places…. The reality is yeah, maybe there’s too much content out there…. You’ll probably see the volume of content come in a little bit.”

Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish on stage during Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting on Jan. 29

Numbers to know

>$1 billion: How much ad revenue Amazon Prime Video’s ad-supported tier is expected to generate this year (not including “Thursday Night Football,” Twitch and Freevee).

3 million: Number of subscribers that NBCUniversal’s Peacock added in the fourth quarter of 2023.

60%: Percentage more time that kids aged 4 through 18 spent on YouTube than TikTok in 2023.

30 minute: Maximum video length that TikTok is testing.

46%: Percentage share of total videos viewers that use a free, ad-supported streaming service.

What we’ve covered

How Amazon is selling ads on Prime Video to advertisers:

  • Digiday obtained a pitch deck for Amazon’s Prime Video Channels program.
  • PVC is Amazon’s program that sells standalone subscriptions to third-party streaming services.

Read more about Amazon’s Prime Video ad pitch here.

Advertisers are coming back into esports — but with caution:

  • Kia is among the brands that are re-entering the esports market through team and league sponsorships.
  • Brands are being more careful and experimental with their esports spending.

Read more about esports advertising here.

Influencer agencies expand in U.S. markets with new leadership as global competition rises:

  • European influencer marketing agencies are setting up shop stateside.
  • The U.S. office openings are part of the agencies’ global expansion efforts.

Read more about influencer agencies here.

Why Twitch’s push to woo publishers is facing challenges in 2024:

  • The Amazon-owned platform reportedly ended deals with publishers including Complex Networks, Rolling Stone and Vice Media Group.
  • Publishers said Twitch never made enough of an effort to cater to media companies.

Read more about Twitch here.

Social platforms become ‘marketing engines’ as creators look for direct deals to earn money:

  • Some creators’ platform payouts have waned in recent years.
  • Platforms like TikTok and Instagram have pulled back on some creator payment programs.

Read more about creators here.

What we’re reading

Paramount plans layoffs:

As the CBS and Paramount+ owner reportedly prepares for a sale, the media company plans to lay off an undisclosed number of employees and reduce its spending on international programming, according to CNBC.

TikTok tests new shoppable video feature:

TikTok has started using computer vision technology to automatically detect products in videos in order to steer people to purchase similar products in its TikTok Shop, according to Bloomberg.

Twitch updates monetization terms:

Amazon’s embattled livestreaming service is making some changes to its revenue-sharing agreements with creators that are designed to enable more creators to make more money through Twitch, though one change will result in less money shared with creators for Prime Gaming subscriptions, according to The Verge.

Axios forms entertainment division:

The Cox-owned news publisher is following the playbook established by other publishers and has formed Axios Entertainment, which will develop TV and streaming shows and has already signed a deal with Amazon Prime Video, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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