Mythbusting the JIC, weaponizing the MRC: What’s up with measurement?

    While the Writers Guild of America strike that began on May 2 is a headline-generating development likely to disrupt programmers’ dealmaking with advertisers, the changing measurement landscape is another pressing topic at this year’s upfronts, one with the potential to reverberate across the industry and reset the way business is done for the entire premium video and television ecosystem.

    What measurement should look like for the multibillion dollar industry was the focus at a several recent events and will likely stay in the crosshairs in the weeks and months ahead as stakeholders push to change a status quo that has been dominated by Nielsen for years. Some executives have not been reserved about what a new measurement paradigm means for the ad industry.

    “Make no mistake, this is going to be a massive change and a reset to all the business models that have, quite honestly, been forced fit to legacy measurement for way too long,” said Kelly Abcarian, executive vice president for measurement and impact at NBCUniversal, at a recent Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) conference. “The future is not going to fit in the business models of the past.”

    Progress and plans from the JIC

    ARF’s AudiencexScience event gave Abcarian and her peers a chance to showcase and stump for the recently formed Joint Industry Committee (JIC), which on April 27 hosted a measurement summit that represented its first upfront presentation. Launched in January, the JIC is working to enable multiple currencies and establish cross-platform measurement solutions for streaming video in time for next year’s upfront presentations.

    Member organizations span big-name programmers and agencies as well as nonprofits OpenAP and the VAB. At the JIC upfront, OpenAP CMO Brittany Slattery attempted to “mythbust” the idea that the committee is only sell-side, insisting it also encompasses media buyers.

    “We would not be here without the support of our agency partners, who have helped us roll up their sleeves — and probably have gotten way too many emails from me over the past four months — to really define what this future looks like together,” Slattery said. 

    Agencies have embraced the JIC — despite any reservations or mixed feelings about definitions of video or other issues — due to an inability to tell clients a unified story about ad frequency, brand client concerns about measurement standards and the need to work with industry partners to find a way forward, according to Bharad Ramesh, executive director of research and investment analytics for GroupM.

    “If I’m outside the tent, I have no idea what’s going on inside, let alone the ability to influence it,” Ramesh explained at the ARF event.

    “Consortiums are notoriously slow, and the fact that we’ve done as much as we’ve done in four months is wild.”

    Dan Aversano

    Senior vice president of data, analytics and advanced advertising, TelevisaUnivision

    While the JIC has quickly grown its ranks, several major players have not signed on. Ramesh said that adding YouTube, Netflix and Disney to the JIC in the next 12 to 18 months would make him “fairly happy.” But even without several dominant streaming video companies, the JIC is making impressive progress — and quickly — according to several speakers.

    “There’s still plenty more to accomplish, but I’m super excited about I think how quickly we’re moving,” said Dan Aversano, senior vice president of data, analytics and advanced advertising at TelevisaUnivision, at the ARF event, pushing back against critics who claim the JIC has moved at a “breakneck” pace. “Consortiums are notoriously slow, and the fact that we’ve done as much as we’ve done in four months is wild.”

    The group’s work so far includes drafting initial requirements for premium video cross-platform currencies that were announced in March. Over the next two months, the JIC plans to define how programmers will enable data for buyers and measurement companies, with use cases expected to be unveiled at Cannes Lions in June. After measurement companies are engaged on data, the JIC will do a beta release of its streaming data service in Q1 2024 that is a key part of the JIC’s promise to advertisers.

    “The marketers … they want the data,” said Jackson Bazley, executive vice president of the ANA, at the ARF event. “It very simply comes down to measure it all, put the attributes in place and let us have the data so we can evaluate campaigns, we can evaluate performance and we make decisions.” 

    Elephant in the room 

    Despite buy-in from several programmers, agency holding companies, measurement firms and other industry organizations, one major player is, not surprisingly, absent from the JIC: Nielsen, the embattled legacy measurement company that the group’s members are, by various degrees, trying to bypass with alternative currency development.


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