NBCUniversal elevates iSpot to ad currency in blow to Nielsen

    As the advertising industry looks to move beyond legacy systems that have struggled to adapt to the streaming age, NBCUniversal (NBCU) continued to plot the future of measurement at its One22 developer conference on Tuesday, March 22, including by shaking up the currency it uses for ad buys. 

    In a blow to Nielsen, the longtime predominant ad currency, the media conglomerate announced that it will activate’s cross-platform audiences as currency for national ad buys at this year’s Upfront, according to Kelly Abcarian, executive vice president of measurement and impact at NBCU Advertising and Partnerships. Comscore will be the currency for local ad buys. 

    “Time is running out. In 2024, the currency our industry uses today — the one our industry has used for decades — will completely disappear,” Abcarian said in prepared remarks, alluding to Nielsen’s plans to rollout its cross-platform Nielsen One platform. “We will all have to start over. So we are choosing to get started right now.”

    While NBCU seemingly went out of its way to not mention Nielsen by name, the company is still expected to be a part of upfront season due to preexisting contracts. Still, NBCU’s move is its latest to usher in a post-Nielsen future. Along with elevating its recently named preferred measurement partner, the company named eight additional certifications as part of its Certified Measurement Program that will help with audience measurement and verification. Comscore, DoubleVerify, IAS, Oracle Advertising, Innovid, Conviva and Comcast’s Freewheel will join iSpot as partners as the company looks to create an interoperable currency ecosystem that handles streaming viewership capture, ad serving, audience verification and ad catalogues.

    In elevating and naming a select group of partners, NBCU also continued its back-and-forth with Disney, which is working with nearly 100 vendors to meet client needs. At the company’s recent Tech & Data Showcase, Disney executive Lisa Valentino claimed the company was “not in the business of score-carding vendors.”

    “While some might call this a ‘scorecard’ — it’s really a roadmap to the future,” Abcarian said at NBCU’s One22 event. “Talk to your procurement teams. Talk to your CMOs. Ask yourself if you are really measuring what matters to your business.”

    Making ad-buying easier

    In addition to the iSpot-currency announcement, NBCU detailed several new capabilities and partnerships that seek to make ad-buying across its platforms easier, with more ways to leverage its troves of consumer data and audience segments. The developments build on NBCU’s existing tech stack, the One Platform.

    The company’s recently announced Peacock Audience Extension seeks to help advertisers facing a fragmented CTV landscape by unifying programmatic advertising across its premium streaming inventory — Peacock, NBC Sports, Bravo, E! and Vudu — into one addressable pool of 182 million adults. Advertisers will also be able to activate across both streaming and traditional linear using iSpot viewership data, which will be integrated into NBCU’s AdSmart platform. Lastly, the company will integrate its NBCUnified data platform with OpenAP’s OpenID to make activating advanced audiences across multiple programmers even easier as part of an industry push for interoperability.

    NBCU’s cross-platform programmatic offering was launched via initial partnerships with DV360, the Trade Desk, Yahoo and Roku’s OneView, and in 2022, the company will add more DSP integrations to Peacock, including Adobe, Amazon, Amobee, Beeswax, Xander, Samsung, Viant and more. The company will also offer private marketplace buying in Q2, and by the second half of the year, plans to activate all content types on Peacock, including linear and live events, programmatically.

    In addition, the company is working with Mediaocean and Salesforce to further automate ad buying between publisher and agency. With Mediaoceans’s new Prisma system and Saleforce’s new Media Cloud, NBCU hopes to offer a streamlined system for both linear and digital deals that is fully automated via NBCU’s APIs — instead of sending RFPs by email.


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