Measurement We Can Count On

"With CFlight, we took the best measurement available for linear and digital platforms and aligned them to unify the impressions. CFlight represents a major advancement for media measurement." -Kavita Vazirani, NBCUniversal

A few weeks ago, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures—the standards body for all things measurement—changed the official definition of a kilogram from the weight of a physical object to a mathematical formula based on Planck’s constant.

This story sent shockwaves through the scientific community, but didn’t make a blip in the media and advertising business. Perhaps it should have. It underscores that the way we measure things isn’t set in stone—and that we can always make it better.

In our business, once we’ve developed a metric, we tend to stick to it, no matter what. But that inflexibility makes it difficult to future-proof the industry. With increased fragmentation and evolving consumer viewing habits, it’s clear that we have to move beyond C3 and the “view” alone. These measures don’t count all impressions, and they don’t begin to connect the impact of media to consumers, consumers to brands and brands to business outcomes.

That’s why NBCU is committed to setting a new measurement standard—one that ensures that we have accurate metrics that allow us to measure what our clients ultimately want: Impact!

In April 2018, we brought our agency partners, competitors, and trade organizations together to discuss a new, open source, measurement methodology that captures advertising exposures across all screens. We called it, CFlight.

With CFlight, we took the best measurement available for linear and digital platforms and aligned them to unify the impressions. CFlight represents a major advancement for media measurement. It has already illuminated new insights about audience consumption—finding, for instance, multi-platform campaigns are twice as efficient at delivering adults 18-34 vs. linear only campaigns. And it is already being transacted upon, proving that it is a feasible, effective currency.

Soon, NBCUniversal will scale CFlight across our entire portfolio in order to grow and evolve the metric. We’ll focus on improving STB VOD and OTT measurement to include co-viewing. Plus, we’ll develop methods to further unify digital video consumption and streamline the ecosystem to make transacting with CFlight even easier.

The ability to accurately count impressions is essential for the strength and continued growth of our industry, but it’s important that we view it as a base camp, not a summit. Our vision is to shift from counting impressions to measuring impact.

Advertising is not just about amassing the most eyeballs, it’s about connecting with people on an emotional level and driving them to action. At NBCUniversal, our content catalyzes that connection.

In the coming months, we’re going to further refine our advanced measurement tools and fuel them with consumer insights. We can get on the top of 30 Rock and shout all day about the power of premium video advertising, and how TV is the smartest investment an advertiser can make, but CMOs want and deserve proof that a campaign has an impact on the metrics that matter most: brand affinity, demand generation through store visits, site visits, searches—and yes, even sales. We’re going to break the barriers between audience measurement, attribution, and ROI, and provide a comprehensive view of the entire purchase, so advertisers can see a clear return on every single dollar they spend on premium video content.

We’re well on our way to creating this next generation system of measurement, but we know that we can’t do it alone. CFlight is an open standard, and the need for impact-based metrics is not unique to NBCUniversal and our advertising partners. The entire industry needs to come together to develop a new way of measuring impact.

After all, if the world’s scientists can agree that the kilogram needed a new standard, surely the advertising industry can do the same for measurement.