605, the measurement and analytics company backed by Cablevision Systems’ Dolan family is jumping into the competition to create alternative currencies to Nielsen, whose numbers have been used for generations to buy and sell media.
The opportunity to launch the 605 Exchange trading currency opened up when Nielsen, already under fire from TV networks for undercounting viewing during the pandemic, lost its accreditation from the Media Rating Council--the industry’s seal of approval, 605 founder and CEO Kristin Dolan told Broadcasting+Cable.
“We had a business plan we were very comfortable with and products that we're very comfortable with. What really changed is we started to get inbound calls about [providing a currency]. People we‘ve known for decades from programmer groups and other places were asking us ‘why aren’t you guys doing it,'” Dolan said.
“If your customer is begging you to do something because they think you can do it, it would be pretty stupid not to take a big swing,” she said.
Dolan started 605 in 2016. Because 605’s data platform is already scaled up, measuring audiences and advertising effectiveness, she said it will cost 605 less than $10 million to build its currency capability. A vendor to build the additional tech infrastructure has been selected.
Dolan expects to have a product ready by the middle of 2022, around the time of the upfronts.
605 Exchange will be designed to be a stable, accurate, consistent, and always on medium of exchange for buying and selling video advertising across platforms.
605 plans to launch an Open Partner Program as part of its currency initiative. The program will enlist programmers, agencies and advertisers to collaborate with 605 to ensure 605 Exchange meets their needs and has value for media buyers and sellers.
Since Nielsen lost its accreditation, the industry has moved more urgently to find alternatives, including formal processes for finding innovative measurement approaches being conducted by NBCUniversal and the VAB.
Observers see a half dozen companies vying to provide currency along with Nielsen, including Comscore, iSpot.tv, VideoAmp and 605. ViacomCBS announced in September it plans to use ViacomAmp data as currency for some national media deals. Eventually competition will whittle those half dozen competitors down to two or three providers.
Things are moving fast because there’s a concern that the window of opportunity could close if Nielsen is re-accredited.
“We think there will be two or three and one of those will be 605. That’s probably what the market will bear,” said Tom Keaveney, recently named president of 605. Keaveney was a director at AdScribe when 605 made a strategic investment in AdScribe in 2020.
Keaveney said 605 started by measuring advertising on linear TV and is folding in data about digital video to create a multi-platform measurement. “We feel like we’ve solved the hard part,” he said. “We think it’s easier starting where we’re starting than doing the inverse.”
Becoming a currency is a big deal because measurement currencies are used to make transactions in a market worth $70 billion. The providers of the currency get lucrative fees from the media sellers, a system that’s likely to continue.
“This is an evolution that’s going to play out over the next 10 years. The media are trying to future-proof the way advertising is transacted long terms, especially with cross-platform playing into this," Keaveney said.
605 Exchange will initially be made available to its Open Partner Program participants as a tracking currency in 2022 ahead of the upfronts. At first, it will focus on national premium video, including linear long-form and brand safe digital video. It will add categories, features and functions based on the input from users and demand in the marketplace.
“For decades, I’ve been focused on the challenge of accurately measuring viewing behavior in a way that increases the value of advertising for programmers, agencies and advertisers,” said Caroline Horner, chief product officer at 605. “The development and launch of 605 Exchange along with creation of our Open Partner Program will provide an opportunity for the smartest minds in the industry to join us in creating the best solution – one that uses our data science, analytic expertise and technology to improve outcomes at the right value.”
The 605 platform is currently used by programmers , agencies and brands. Based on viewing information from 22 million U.S. households, the platform takes in 1.2 billion bits of audience and advertising data daily.■
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.