NEW YORK – Buyers and sellers of media are pushing for a “common currency” that unifies audience measurement for traditional channels like linear television with newer digital video platforms. They also want a broader variety of metrics other than reach and frequency, which have been a staple of the media and marketing industries for decades.

“We are in a terrific, terrific hurry – if you will – to innovate on the fly and to open up the idea of what is going to be the viable currency,” Sean Cunningham, president and CEO of trade group VAB, said in this interview with Beet.TV at the Advertising Week conference. “We’ve got a lot of suitors, we’ve got a lot of competition and a lot to sort through to get the kind of transparency and the kind of currency that the industry deserves.”

Among the many disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic, it also exposed flaws in the way television audiences are measured. Ratings stalwart Nielsen lost the backing of the Media Rating Council amid accusations that the company had undercounted audiences who had shifted their viewing to streaming video. Amid the change in consumer habits, the company is developing Nielsen One as a single, cross-media solution for more comparable and comprehensive metrics across platforms.

“We’re never going back to a single currency provider,” Cunningham said. “What we need to measure in terms of premium television video is so much more than simply eyeballs and awareness.”

Business outcomes and other metrics that help to prove the effectiveness of TV advertising are in greater demand among marketers. They’re seeking measurement that’s comparable to what they get from search and social media platforms, but without the limitations of closed digital ecosystems.

“The marketer has got a couple of huge walled gardens that they’re getting all of these business outcome indicators from, but they’re just that – they’re walled gardens. They have to ‘trust them’ because it’s Google and Facebook,” Cunningham said.

The television business has been more transparent in providing a common currency, though the metrics have been “one-dimensional,” he said.

“What the TV business has to do is the best of both worlds,” Cunningham said. “It’s got to make multidimensional metrics that can really measure outcomes…and effects other than just awareness.”

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