Future of TV Briefing: One area where the upfront measurement currency conversation is advancing

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This week’s Future of TV Briefing looks at the state of play for measurement currencies as advanced audiences become a focal point in this year’s upfront market.

  • Advanced measurement
  • Netflix’s Greg Peters era, NBCU vs. WBD for NBA rights, AI in Hollywood and more

Advanced measurement

There is — finally — some measurement currency activity worth monitoring in the annual upfront market.

OK, it’s probably not the one you’re thinking of. Nielsen’s legacy panel-based measurement will remain the primary measurement currency used as the basis for this year’s upfront deals, according to executives at TV networks and agencies. But with advanced audiences being a bigger part of upfront ad sellers’ pitches this year, that creates an opening for alternative measurement providers to seed themselves into the market — and potentially secure a significant foothold in the future of TV and streaming ad measurement.

One Nielsen rival in particular seems to be especially seizing that opening.

“There is an increased focus on trying to move to mid- and lower-funnel and advanced audiences. And that is where I think VideoAmp has a significant edge,” said one agency executive.

“Today we’re pretty locked in with VideoAmp as it relates to advanced audiences and activation against non-traditional demos,” said one TV network executive

“I’m leaning into VideoAmp. We’re going to use VideoAmp for our strategic targeting measurement data,” said a second TV network executive.

“We’re so focused on strategic audiences; that’s priority number one for us. And VideoAmp is the key partner in that,” said a third TV network executive.

In other words, where Nielsen’s legacy measurement will be the primary currency driving traditional age-and-gender-based upfront deals this year, VideoAmp is sitting in pole position for advanced audience agreements. And with upfront ad buyers and sellers gravitating toward advanced audience deals, that position could give VideoAmp a boost when it comes to primary currency changeover that may or may not happen next year (depending on whether Nielsen pulls a Google and postpones its legacy measurement deprecation once again).

But there’s still a lot that needs to be sorted out between now and then. For example, while ad buyers and sellers may be more comfortable adopting VideoAmp as the currency for advanced audiences, there still seems to be a preference toward having Nielsen in the mix. Or maybe it’s inertia.

“I would love if the entire ecosystem – everybody – just said, ‘Let’s do Nielsen plus big data,’ and everybody would just do it,” said the second TV network executive, referring to Nielsen’s newer big data-based measurement system. “Unfortunately I think there’s going to be some people that do it, and some people use VideoAmp, some people use iSpot. I think the currency is going to be all over the place.”

Nielsen’s big data measurement system (which we’ll refer to as “Nielsen big data”) appears to be VideoAmp’s main competition, but it has hit a rough patch. 

“Nielsen big data, we’re ready to go on that. But we’ve had only one agency that told us that they were ready to go on it,” said a fourth TV network executive.

“We’re talking to agencies about Nielsen big data for the first time as a currency [option]. There are certain [agency] holding companies that want it. We’re a proponent of big data. But there’s a reluctance on some agencies and some sellers about it,” said a fifth TV network executive.

At some point, though, the TV ad industry is going to have to make bigger moves on the measurement front. For as much as the conversation around advanced audiences is growing, it’s still – for the moment – effectively a side conversation. “The percentage of advanced audience transactions [out of total TV ad buys] is at 10%. So 90% are age and demo,” said the agency executive. 

Nonetheless, both buyers and sellers seem set on making advanced audiences a bigger part of their upfront deals as well as making some kinda transition to new measurement currencies. So at some point, they’re going to have to sort out how to reconcile these two deal types, which basically boils down to a math equation calculating how, as one example, a Nielsen-backed, age-and-demo CPM compares to a VideoAmp-backed, advanced audience CPM.

“Agencies have decades and decades that they’ve been transacting on demo. So now they go to all these alternative audiences, they’re off their base [ad rates],” said the fifth TV network executive.

“Any move to new currency involves an assessment of value: how the CPMs get translated,” said a sixth TV network executive.

What we’ve heard

“There’s so much resold CTV inventory now. You might be buying from Magnite on a PMP, and I don’t want to say anything bad about Magnite, but don’t be putting trash CTV in the bidstream.”

Agency exec during one of the Digiday Programmatic Marketing Summit’s closed-door town hall sessions

Numbers to know

40 million: Number of global monthly active users (not subscribers) for Netflix’s ad-supported tier.

$30 million: How much money Roku will pay Major League Baseball over three years to stream Sunday morning games.

60: New maximum video length, in minutes, that TikTok is testing.

$15: Monthly subscription price for Comcast’s streaming bundle that includes Peacock’s and Netflix’s ad-supported tiers as well as Apple TV+.

8 billion: How many video views X claims to generate each day.

What we’ve covered

TV networks embrace AI at the upfront to improve audience targeting and commerce:

  • TV networks and streaming services pitched generative AI capabilities for ads.
  • They also touted machine learning for audience targeting.

Read more about TV networks’ AI embrace here.

How streaming muscled its way into the upfront spotlight among the OGs of TV:

  • Streaming and sports stole the show during last week’s upfront presentations.
  • None of the four traditional TV presenters offered up a prime-time schedule.

Read more about streaming’s upfront standing here.

How the NBA’s broadcast rights tussle could affect advertisers:

  • Streaming services could bring new audiences and new ad opportunities.
  • NBC and Warner Bros. Discovery are reportedly duking out to secure rights alongside Disney and Amazon.

Read more about NBA advertisers here.

Inside YouTube’s 2024 upfront pitch to advertisers:

  • YouTube is refining its pitch to advertisers to create more scarcity.
  • It has updated its YouTube Select threshold and introduced Creator Takeovers.

Read more about YouTube’s upfront pitch here.

Amazon’s upfront debut crowns its courtship of adland:

  • Amazon’s upfront presentation skewed somewhat traditional, with an emphasis on programming.
  • The presentation was relatively light on ad tech announcements.

Read more about Amazon’s upfront presentation here.

What we’re reading

Netflix’s Greg Peters era:

Having spearheaded Netflix’s password-sharing crackdown and push into advertising, co-CEO Greg Peters is also a major advocate for the streamer’s move into live sports, according to Bloomberg.

NBCUniversal vs. Warner Bros. Discovery for NBA rights:

Disney and Amazon have secured rights to air NBA games, but the league is still determining whether to award its remaining rights to NBCUniversal or Warner Bros. Discovery — and if opting against the latter could lead to a lawsuit, according to CNBC.

AI invades Hollywood:

The entertainment industry may publicly voice wariness of AI’s threat to its creative employees, but writers, VFX artists and others are already incorporating the technology into their workflows, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

‘Spulu’ becomes Venu:

Disney, Fox and WBD have settled on Venu Sports as the name for their sports streaming joint venture, according to Variety. (Tbh, I prefer “Spulu.”)

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