Networks Plan Q1 Test of Data Plus Math Ad Platform

A handful of broadcast and cable networks have signed up to test a system best known as Project Thor that measures the impact of television advertising.

The system—a multi-touch attribution platform created by data analytics company Data Plus Math—is no longer being referred to by its super hero name.

And instead of being an industry wide initiative, individual networks and groups including A&E Networks, AMC Networks, The CW, Discovery Communications and Fox News, will be testing the platform with clients during the first quarter.

Other networks are still in discussion with Data Plus Math, which declined to comment.

Creating metrics that show the results of TV advertising campaigns is increasingly important at a time when decisions are being based on data. Digital advertising has generated tons of data—some of which has been discredited. TV, though known as the most powerful sales medium ever, has found creating data linking commercials to sales elusive.

Related: Networks Agree to Continue Project Thor Ad Effectiveness Project

“When we talk to advertisers they’re aware that TV worked, but I think we all felt we let digital take credit for a lot of the hard work TV does in driving awareness and brand education and, at the end of the day, really driving results,” said Mel Berning, president and chief revenue officer at A+E Networks.

In the future, attribution metrics could be a standard part of the post-campaign reports that TV networks provide to their advertisers, he said.

“We think it will really help advertisers see the value of TV and will help justify moving more money back to TV and away from some of the other media that hasn’t been as effective,” Berning said.

“The industry needs scalable and standard attribution and business outcome measurements that benefit marketers, agencies, buying platforms and publishers,” said Ben Price, President, U.S. Ad Sales, Discovery Communications. “Our partnership with Data Plus Math will not only prove the effectiveness of ads across both linear and digital, but also show how powerful premium video is with engaging consumers.” 

“We know that advertising on our networks builds brands and results in buying decisions, in many cases far more effectively than other forms of advertising,” added Scott Collins, president of Advertising Sales at AMC Networks. “So we are pleased to participate in this effort to use technology to demonstrate in clear and direct terms the value of the impressions we deliver across our five popular and well-defined networks in a dynamic and competitive marketplace.”

Berning noted that will working with Data + Math was primarily aimed at lifting the value of TV advertising at the industry level, some networks would perform better than others with different categories of advertiser.

Although familiar to some network execs and media buyers, Data Plus Math was introduced to the industry at a meeting in October put together by the Video Advertising Bureau.

The meeting was attended by about forty executives representing most of the major TV content companies.

The meeting was supposed to be conducted quietly using the codename Project Thor, but word of the meeting and the codename leaked out.

With the Thor character being owned by Disney’s Marvel unit and being featured in a high-profile current movie, Data Plus Math is being encouraged not to use the name.

The VAB say Data + Math’s platform as a way for the industry to develop credible third-party metrics that show how effective TV is at a time when advertisers spending on TV is largely flat and spending on digital advertising is growing rapidly.

Related: NBC Sees Double Digit Growth in Olympic Ad Sales

Data Plus Math was founded in 2016 and is backed by Comcast Ventures and Greycroft Partners.

According to its marketing materials, “the Data Plus Math platform will enable the networks to work in close partnership with agencies and advertisers to create the next generation of media metrics based on marketing outcomes.  Partnering on outcome measurement with their clients provides the networks with the ability to go beyond audience delivery and optimize for their clients marketing goals.”

Data Plus Math says the in a world where data drives marketing decision TV needs a more accurate picture of the results TV is driving.

“The attribution analytics provided by the D+M platform can provide multi-screen TV with timely metrics that prove the impact of TV as demanded by today’s CMOs and which are required to compete with the digital media companies for marketing dollars,” Data Plus Math says.

The meeting was part of a recent trend for the industry to try to get together some of the issues in a fast-changing media environment.

Earlier this year, Turner, Fox and Viacom formed Open AP, a consortium designed to standardize the definition of target audiences as more clients look to switch to audience buying from the traditional use of age and sex demographics as the currency the ad business.

Last month, Linda Yaccarino, chairman of NBCUniversal for ad sales and client partnerships, gathered more than 100 buyers, sellers, clients and research to try to come up with a way to get together to address commercial TV’s problems with consumer experience and measurement.

(Photo via discutivo's Flickr. Photo was taken on April 20, 2011. Attained using Creative Commons License 2.0. Photo was cropped to fit 16x9 aspect ratio)

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.