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NBCU Puts iSpot in Lead as It Evaluates Measurement Companies

A remote control pointing at a TV
(Image credit: Getty Images)

NBCUniversal, which has been conducting a public search for new audience measurement approaches, on Wednesday released a 116-page report that showed iSpot.TV as the leader in the areas it deems most important.

In the report, NBCU released its data on eight companies that replied to NBCU‘s request for proposal to provide a cross-platform ad currency. In addition to iSpot, companies participating in the process are 605, Comscore, Nielsen, Oracle, Samba, TVSquared and VideoAmp. 

At this point in the process, NBCU said it evaluated the contending companies in terms of the completeness of solutions, ability to deliver and crossplatform readiness.

“The evaluation itself is the opinion of NBCU based on the work we have done through our RFP process, including going through 120-plus submissions, holding formal presentations, and conducting data evaluations, including our own test and learn we did in this past Summer Olympics across over a dozen advertiser campaigns,” the report said.

During the summer games, NBCU shared data with the measurement companies and evaluated how well their methodologies produced accurate audience estimates.

NBCU called iSpot, VideoAmp, Nielsen and Comscore the “currency front runners.” iSpot was ranked highest in ability to deliver and completeness of solution. In terms of cross-platform currency readiness, NBCU categorized iSpot as “approaching mastery.” VideoAmp, Nielsen, Comscore and Oracle were “developing mastery” and 605, TVSquared and Samba TV were described as “developing competency.”

NBCUniversal Measurement Report

(Image credit: NBCUniversal)

Last month, NBCU tapped iSpot as the first company it will use for quantifying cross-media video consumption in ad sales transactions. iSpot's process will be tested by NBCU and clients of media buyer Publicis Media during the first quarter across all of NBCU's programming, including the Super Bowl and Olympics.

NBCU said it is sharing the data it has gathered through its RFP process and internal evaluations in order to help the industry move toward what it calls “measurement independence.”

Other companies are also evaluating measurement companies and some, including ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia, are working with iSpot, VideoAmp, Comscore and others to test potential currencies for use in national ad deals between now and the upfront market.

But industry observers note that NBCU’s process has been the most rigorous and thorough.

The process comes at a time when Nielsen, which long dominated the market, is under pressure to upgrade its methodology and technology to deal with the new multi-platform video environment.

Also: Ad Industry Seeks Alternatives After Nielsen Loses Seal of Approval

Nielsen has also suffered a series of embarrassing incidents. It was discovered that Nielsen undercounted viewership in both national and local markets during the recession and lost its accreditation from the Media Rating Council. More recently Nielsen disclosed that because of a computer error, it has not been including all out-of-home viewing in its ratings.

NBC, which invited Nielsen to be a part of its evaluation process, has made measurement a priority. 

“The only measure of our industry’s future success will be the success we have in adopting new measurement yardsticks at scale—ones that accurately, effectively, and respectfully keep up with the speed of today’s (and tomorrow’s) consumers,” said former Nielsen executive Kelly Abcarian, now leading NBCU as executive VP, measurement and impact.

“That future requires building a robust market for measurement solutions that are effective, innovative, and impartial,” she said in the introduction to the report. “For every category, you will find an overview of the criteria used to evaluate these solutions and how they compare to one another, as well as a high-level summary of each company and its capabilities. We hope you’ll begin evaluating these potential partners and yardsticks for yourself, along the dimensions that matter most to you and the industry as a whole.” ■ 

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.