In the Upfront, GroupM Is Sticking With Nielsen for Now, but It’s Testing iSpot, Comscore, VideoAmp for the Future

 measuring tape
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the middle of an upfront in which measurement is a key issue, one of the biggest media buyers in the world is making its position clear on what it will use for currency in 2022-23 and how it is preparing for the future.

GroupM said it will continue to transact using Nielsen data for the upfronts.

But it also said it will be using alternative currencies, including outcome-based approaches, with a dozen of its largest clients to shadow its Nielsen-based deals. Those clients include Unilever, Nestle, Ferrero, Domino’s, TJX Cos. and Mars.

Also: The Front-Runner: How iSpot Became a Favorite To Claim Nielsen’s Measurement Crown

“The industry requires a robust measurement solution that can solve the problem of cross-screen reach and frequency and is representative of how consumers watch video,” GroupM U.S. chief investment officer Matt Sweeney said. “The industry agrees that panel-dependent measurement needs to shift to a transparent path built on a stable, reliable methodology and a foundation of proven technology, which captures the shift in viewer consumption habits.” 


(Image credit: GroupM)

After last year, when Nielsen was found to have undercounted viewing and lost its accreditation, the seal of approval from industry watchdog the Media Rating Council, the TV networks and media industry stepped up their search for an alternative to Nielsen, which had dominated the industry. Some agencies and media companies, including NBCUniversal and Paramount, said they planned to do some deals using alternative currencies.

Nielsen One Alpha is one of the currencies networks and clients will be familiarizing themselves with. Nielsen is planning to roll out Nielsen One, which supplements panel-based methodology with big data to capture cross-platform viewing on a consistent and comparable basis.

GroupM will also be testing data from, Comscore and VideoAmp for possible use in the future.

“As we reframe what measurement looks like in this new environment, we are looking forward to partnering with GroupM to establish test and learn pilots for our brands, develop a framework for KPI-based measurement approaches, and move toward a single currency,” said Rob Master, VP of media and marketing at Unilever. “This process will enable us to consider what the measurement ecosystem should look like as audiences embrace new technologies and consume content in different ways.”

“The capabilities of the alternate measurement currency providers are rapidly growing, and we will be using this year to test and learn with these providers,” added Dave Saxton, integrated communications planning team lead, Mars. 

GroupM has put together a list of requirements for the companies that will provide measurement for the industry in the future. They will need to: 

  • 1. Incorporate feedback from the buy side and input from the Association of National Advertisers;  
  • 2. Gain universal acceptance and utilization by all media partners; 
  • 3. Provide traditional and digital partner coverage, with the opportunity to add new metrics like attention;  
  • 4. Provide fair and accurate audience representation;  
  • 5. Move towards standardization and greater transparency and plan to undertake the MRC audit process (if not already accredited); 
  • 6. Provide interoperability across GroupM’s tools and systems; and 
  • 7. Share new commercial models to fund measurement. 

“Marketers are leaning into new tools and technologies to bridge the measurement gap, raising important questions about the accuracy and sustainability of panel-based measurement as changes in the digital media environment continue to accelerate beyond one currency,” GroupM North America CEO Kirk McDonald said. “Outlining expectations with our measurement partners and working together to implement standards is critical to create real change that makes advertising  work better for our clients and to better track our progress towards client growth goals.”  ■

Jon Lafayette

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.