Marketing Insights

NBCU’s TV measurement tests mark industry shift

Patrick Pipkin, Media Director, discusses the Super Bowl's effect on TV Measurement

Nielsen’s decades-long dominance as the industry standard for media currency may be coming to an end, or at least changing quite a bit. Nielsen has been the target of increased scrutiny over the past several months as a result of its allegedly underreporting TV viewing in the months following the onset of the 2020 pandemic as well as its move to include Broadband-Only Homes in their latest TV Universe estimates. The Media Ratings Council rejected Nielsen’s accreditation, and NBCUniversal (NBCU) has been seeking other metrics by which to measure viewing in time for major events such as the 2022 Winter Olympics and Super Bowl LVI.

NBCU announced last week that it will use as one of its ad measurement partners in the upcoming broadcast season. uses Automatic Content Recognition data on smart televisions to catalog commercials aired on linear and connected TV. It will then combine this data with other sources to measure campaign delivery. NBCU will combine this data with its own supply-side platform, One Platform, to provide video attribution across screens and associate it with customer activity. 

NBCU had already announced its plans to partner with multiple ad measurement providers in order to receive as holistic a view as possible and have reviewed 70 responses to their RFP. This test will lay the foundation for negotiations for the 2022-23 Upfront season. As Kelly Abcarian (EVP Measurement & Impact at NBCU) put it, “This is not a shift away from one panel-based system to another, but a definitive step toward embracing the metrics brands already use to evaluate media companies.”

This move reflects two larger industry shifts. First, the world of TV measurement is quickly changing from the tried and true GRP-based methods, driven by Nielsen panels, to a more unified framework based on performance and real-time cross-screen viewing. Secondly, measurement may no longer live with a single currency authority, but instead be shared across multiple services to give more diverse insights and apply a level of “peer reviewing” to the system.  

The TV industry has lagged somewhat as compared to the measurement of digital advertising with its reliance on limited panel-based methodologies and performance reporting that can take weeks, months or even quarters to measure. These changes adopt the notion of test, measure, adjust, repeat. The 2022 Winter Olympics and Super Bowl LVI will serve as great test cases for this new model. Two of the nation’s largest public events paired with one of the nation’s largest holding companies will supply a wealth of impressions.


Patrick Pipkin