Less than a year after its formation, Warner Bros. Discovery plans to trade TV ads in the upcoming sales season using non-traditional currency systems.

“Alternative” currencies have been a hot topic over the last year as Nielsen faced measurement challenges and as broadcasters and ad buyers heeded the growth in multi-platform viewing.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Andrea Zapata, EVP, Head of Ad Sales Research, Warner Bros. Discovery, explains her company’s plans.

Rigorous evaluation

The company has key dates – a Q1 test ahead of the next upfront, and a milestone in September, ahead of the 2024 season.

“For the 2023 upfront, we at Warner Bros Discovery are absolutely going to be transacting off of alternative currency,” Zapata says.

With Zapata, WarnerMedia had held a beauty contest in 2021, searching for new measurement vendors, with the aim of going beyond simple demographic measurement, and announced the winners in January 2022 – iSpot.TV, VideoAmp, Comscore.

She describes it as a “very rigorous” evaluation process, looking at currency providers’ methodology, data sets, data integrity, capture methods, use of ACR and set top box, estimations and more, including  reporting metrics, stewardship, activation and use of clean rooms. It involved tests across more than 50 campaigns across all ad agencies.

Set for September

Now things are entering another phase. Warner Bros. Discovery in January 2023 announced it would use VideAmp to measure cross-screen campaigns across its portfolio of sports, news, lifestyle and premium entertainment brands.

“We can go not only from a forecast, but to a post,” Zapata says. “We are doing another POC, proof concept. It will be in first quarter of this year.”

“We’ll be not only ingesting their data for our camp life campaigns, we’re also going be working with comScore and with iSpot.

“That will allow us to not only get learnings in real-time on what friction exists there, but also how we can work together with our partners to help solve for some of those potential challenges so we’re up and running in September for the next upfront.”

Sales season

The upfront ad sales season refers to the period of time when television networks present their upcoming programming schedules and sell the majority of their advertising slots for the upcoming television season.

This typically occurs in the spring, with the major networks holding presentations and meetings with advertisers in New York City.

The goal of the upfronts is for the networks to secure ad commitments for the upcoming season in advance, before the fall television season begins.