TV Upfronts to Contend with Analytics Upended by Streaming

Measurement is emerging as a major issue to be addressed at this year’s advertising sales presentations known as the TV Upfronts, taking place this month in New York City. Companies slated to present range from established players like NBCUniversal, hosting May 15 at Radio City Music Hall, to Netflix, which joins the heavyweights with a May 17 event at the Paris Theater. An increased emphasis on streaming platforms, which allow specific measurements rather than the panel extrapolations that have been the norm in the broadcast era, has shifted the focus to the analytics firms that quantify consumer viewing and identify patterns.

“This is a bigger transformation than the industry has ever seen before,” Kelly Metz, managing director of advanced TV activation at Omnicom Media Group told The Wall Street Journal.

Nielsen has long been the industry standard for what is known as measurement currency. The company’s consumer panels for many years provided the measurements that were the last word on TV audience measurement, ultimately determining how tens of billions of ad dollars were spent in the U.S. on broadcast commercials, digital-video spots and streaming promos.

After being suspended in 2021 after the accuracy of its data was disputed, Nielsen last month regained its national TV ratings accreditation.

“Nielsen’s ratings stayed the dominant currency in TV ad deals even after the suspension because of the company’s size and longstanding clout. But the incident gave competitors such as Comscore Inc., VideoAmp, and EDO, which offer measurement services to ad buyers, an opening to push their products,” WSJ writes.

Amazon recently announced VideoAmp and iSpot as its measurement providers “complementing the first-party measurement solutions of Amazon Ads,” and also said its  Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC) for performing analytics is launching worldwide.

“Major television players and media agencies meanwhile are joining together in a ‘joint industry committee,’ which will seek to create new standards for audience measurement services, among other goals,” WSJ reports. The group says data from set-top boxes and smart TVs allows for more trustworthy measurement than that which relies only on consumer panels.

“It is still too soon for any of the newer players, or the offerings Nielsen is developing to take them on, to emerge yet as a new common currency,” WSJ suggests.

Nielsen, meanwhile, “has been allowing agencies to evaluate a new ‘big data’ product that combines its human panel-based measurements with data drawn from smart TVs and set-top boxes,” according to WSJ.

Nonetheless, “Nielsen last week said in a memo to clients it considers its traditional panel-only national TV audience measurements as the ‘currency of record’ for the coming TV season,” but adds “the big data product will still be available for clients who want to use it.”

TV & Media Leaders Share 5 Trends We Can Expect to See During the 2023 Upfronts Season, The Drum, 4/28/23
Media Measurement Has a Big Problem: The Deprecation of Big Data, MediaPost, 5/1/23
This Upfronts Season, Advertisers Are Leaning on Convergent Solutions to Reach Fragmented Audiences, Digiday, 5/1/23
Nielsen Seems to Gain Edge After TV Networks Work to Cut Its Measurement Role, Variety, 4/25/23
What Buyers and TV Insiders Really Think About the Top Measurement Companies, Adweek, 4/10/23
Getting Ahead of the Audience Measurement Curve in a Streaming First Landscape, Nielsen, 4/23

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