SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Television networks are gearing up for the upfront advertising sales season amid a period of upheaval in audience measurement. Media buyers and sellers will have more tools to set the value of advertising transactions, including more granular analysis of data to help predict business outcomes.

“Marketers over the long term will look back on 2022 and say, ‘That’s when the game changed,’” Sean Cunningham, president and chief executive of VAB, said in this interview at Beet.TV’s BeetRetreat. He added that this year’s upfront sales season has been dubbed as “the multicurrency upfront.”

Networks have announced deals with a variety of newer measurement partners as they seek to highlight the value of their programming and audiences. Among the recent announcements, Disney this month named Samba TV as its first official measurement partner, giving brands access to deeper insights into audiences. Crown Media Family Networks, whose media brands include Hallmark Channel, last week signed a measurement deal with

Big Data ‘Truth Sets’

While media buyers have greeted some of these deals with skepticism and concerns about inflated metrics, alternate currencies are becoming a bigger part of negotiating the values of audiences and ad inventories. Newer measurement solutions offer the promise of a Big Data flood of new information about people.

“The absolute minority of deals in the upfront are going to be done just on looking at one measurement currency ‘truth set’,” Cunningham said. “The great news for brand managers and for advertisers is the fact that we’re now dealing with datasets that are in the tens of millions.”

Marketers will have more ways to match their first-party data about consumers with other sources of data to help hone their targeting.

“The real ability to move from understanding something like a target audiences to understanding customer sets …that’s the biggest thing,” Cunningham said. “What we’re seeing is a lot of practicality around solutions. It won’t be done by one side or the other. It will only be done together.”

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