NBCUniversal Reveals Unified Measurement Currency Results with iSpot

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If anyone knows media measurement, it is Kelly Abcarian, previously with Nielsen and now Executive Vice President, Measurement & Impact, Advertising & Partnerships, NBCUniversal. When the results of a pilot study were recently revealed, showing how iSpot data can be accurately used as currency for over-the-top campaigns, Abcarian was front and center, along with NBCU's Laura Molen, President, Ad Sales & Partnerships, and Sean Muller, CEO iSpot.

According to Molen, the year-long study is "a major milestone to transform media measurement to reach consumers where they are." She noted that it helps to address advertiser demand for the ultimate cross-platform measurement standard.

iSpot is an ad measurement and analytics company. Early this year, NBCU tapped iSpot as one of the vendors that would help it develop a new measurement framework. Partnering with iSpot has enabled NBCU to contribute a new solution to the multi-currency future of the media ecosystem. "Some are stuck on legacy," Molen said. "Some are grading their own homework or measuring themselves." But others are adopting new measurement currencies. "Already 40% of our Upfront deals have been outside the traditional age and gender guarantees" using a range of other data suppliers such as Adsmart, iSpot and OpenAP, she added.

The industry needs to unify and codify a new currency using alternative measurement services, and the partnership with iSpot is pivotal to NBCU's measurement goals. "They are our first certified partner and a trusted partner of the industry for over a decade," Molen explained, adding that iSpot also received the seal of approval from many of NBCU's advertisers. In fact, over 30% of the advertisers showcased in NBCU's pilot study were already iSpot customers.

Molen noted that it's a major step in media measurement to have an ability to "bridge the gaps between platforms and even across the buy and sell side," combining all of NBCU's platforms with one unified measurement method that delivers daily impressions within 48 hours.

For Abcarian, this effort is all part of the bigger plan to "move our industry forward with better measurement solutions and trying to keep up with the changing, ever-growing consumer behaviors."

NBCU's nine-month journey to find the right measurement partner started with an RFP that attracted over 120 measurement providers across six measurement categories. This was followed by a test of 16 advertisers over the Summer Olympics across six cross-platform currency partners. After that, there was a range of industry initiatives and announcements; the certification of nine NBCU measurement partners whose studies focused on the Winter Olympics and Super Bowl; and finally, a 67-advertiser pilot test examining 158 brands.

"The key takeaway from our last nine months is that cross-platform currency is here, and it is ready to act and transact," Abcarian said.

As for the pilot study with iSpot, a notable advancement was the mitigation of friction by using "direct server-to-server integration so brands could measure all ads across all platforms and all ads fast," she added.

After hours of training 800 users and testing across a three-month period for the 12 brands, NBCU saw an average 546 million impressions per brand. There was an average mix of 9% on OTT and 91% on linear.

Advertisers were categorized by their mix of linear and OTT and fell into the following categories: so-called "Beginners" with 10% OTT in their media mix, "Experimenters" at 10-20% OTT, "Adventurers" at 20-30% and "Pioneers" at 30%+. The test results showed that brands with a rich mix of OTT did better with overall greater reach and acceptable levels of frequency.

Muller revealed the results of the pilot study that looked at a large retail brand. "Probably the overarching learning here is that linear and streaming can no longer be planned, measured and transacted in silos," he explained. The retail brand began its campaign with a very low mix of OTT and over the span of the campaign increased its OTT weight. The result was a significant increase in reach using more OTT "as linear was saturated and more frequency was building up. And as they layered in streaming, there was pure incremental reach," he revealed.

What did NBCU learn? All brands are underleveraged on NBCU OTT in driving reach. The pilot study proved that a careful mixture of OTT and linear, depending on the target consumer goal, can result in optimizing reach and frequency that can be smoothed out by moving media weight from linear to OTT.

"The power of premium [content] is critically important across our linear and OTT platforms to drive reach and results for our advertisers," Abcarian said. The ability to measure all viewing in a unified way enables advertisers to value and optimize all of their inventory across all platforms with an optimal mix in a frictionless and seamless way with de-duped reach and frequency, she concluded.

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