LOS ANGELES — The television industry is grappling with significant changes in the way viewership is measured, including greater emphasis on how advertising campaigns drive business outcomes. With consumers splitting their time among a wider variety of screens, cross-platform measurement has become a bigger priority.

Amid these developments, NBCUniversal this year undertook a major effort to understand the capabilities of measurement companies, and how they can work together to provide a more comprehensive view of consumer habits.

“We want to build a measurement future that never leaves content behind, and if anything, ensures that the premium value of content is not the only thing that gets measured, but is the primary thing we focus on, and that it’s not about audiences alone,” Kelly Abcarian, executive vice president of measurement and impact at NBCUniversal, said in this discussion with Tracey Scheppach, chief executive of Matter More Media, at Beet.TV’s Beet Retreat.

Abcarian voiced frustration with the idea that 90% of its measurement spending goes to “counting eyeballs,” while the remainder is spent on studying the effect of advertising. Those proportions are in contrast to digital platforms that can provide more information about consumer behavior lower parts of the purchase funnel.

Source: NBCUniversal

NBCUniversal, whose media brands NBC, MSNBC, USA, SyFy and the Peacock streaming service, this year sent out a request for proposal (RFP) from dozens of measurement and research companies. After weeks of studying most of the responses and categorizing them, the media company has compiled its findings on the marketplace.

“Our goal at NBCU is to also certify the right trusted partners because we’re all working with valuable consumer data,” Abcarian said. “We want to make sure when we bring choice and flexibility, we get that right.”

Summer Olympics Proof of Concept

NBCUniversal this year invited six measurement companies to help evaluate the audience for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. They studied the campaigns of 16 advertisers during the sporting event, which was carried on linear, digital and connected TV platforms.

Abcarian said the work demonstrated that cross-platform measurement is ready to provide a single currency. It’s also faster, more detailed and accurate.

“We can do next-day reporting, and that’s not just at a program level,” she said. “That is literally at an ad-level accuracy. We can actually understand the total delivery of an ad campaign across all screens.”

Future of Television

Improved measurement provides a stronger foundation for broadcast networks to demonstrate their value as promotional vehicles, and for advertisers to sharpen their media strategies.

“When you can see it all, and accurately count it all, that’s good for everyone in our industry,” Abcarian said. “We’re very optimistic that there are real currency contenders ready to move ahead.”

Advertising revenue provides media companies with funds to produce premium content, making audience measurement a key part of differentiating themselves from digital platforms such as social media companies that rely on user-generated content.

“We’ve got to stop spending 90% of our investment on crappy counting,” Abcarian said. “We need to be able to prove the same way the digital walled gardens can do, day in and day out, about the value that advertising brings by measuring the impact more succinctly across every campaign.”

You are watching coverage from Beet Retreat Santa Monica 2021, presented by FreeWheel, IRIS.TV, Samba TV, TransUnion & Warner Music Group. For more videos, please visit this page.