WarnerMedia is seeking a variety of new audience measurement solutions as people’s viewing habits change rapidly with the growth in streaming video. The company, which is being spun off from AT&T to merge with Discovery, sent out a request for information (RFI) from 10 to 15 measurement providers and will narrow the list of finalists to fewer than five.

“We’re vetting methodology. We’re not necessarily doing a 50- or 80-plus RFI. We don’t have the bandwidth or the resources or the time to do so,” Andrea Zapata, head of research, data and insights at WarnerMedia, said in this interview with Beet.TV.

WarnerMedia’s search for different measurement providers comes as companies like Nielsen are under pressure to offer new capabilities that reflect changes in technology and media-consumption habits.

“We’ve always had a history of being innovative and thinking about how you count advanced advertising and how do you measure it alternatively,” Zapata said. “I don’t think this is a moment in time where we’re saying, ‘Goodbye, Nielsen’ yet. They will have a presence in our future. It’s just that they won’t be the only player which we partner with.”

Industry Shifts

The coronavirus pandemic 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. Meanwhile, the company is developing Nielsen One as a single, cross-media solution for more comparable and comprehensive metrics across platforms.

WarnerMedia’s search for measurement partners comes as rival NBCUniversal has called for new ways to quantify audiences and the effect of advertising. The unit of Comcast in August sent a request for proposal (RFP) to measurement companies to find metrics that accurately reflect consumer behavior and value content fairly.

“I’d like to think we can take some of the madness out of it and be a bit more thoughtful about how we think about alternative measurement and currency, especially as it relates to caring for our historical ways in which we think about media mix modeling and the future of being really prescriptive in what we want to count, and how we want to count it and demonstrate efficacy,” Zapata said.

She said she foresees the industry working together to improve audience measurement so that advertisers are better equipped to develop media plans and optimize them.

“At WarnerMedia, we strongly believe that we have a responsibility to help the marketplace understand how to plan, buy and measure us effectively,” Zapata said. “We can’t do this in siloes. It’s not prudent.”

Zapata will present more of her ideas at a session titled “Cross-Platform Identity Resolution – Work in Progress?” at the Beet Retreat in Santa Monica, California, on November 17-19.