Entertainment Giants Teaming Up on Advertising Currency Initiative, Announce Plan to Unify Streaming Viewership Data

Entertainment Giants Teaming Up on Advertising Currency Initiative, Announce Plan to Unify Streaming Viewership Data

There’s significant movement in the evolution of premium video advertising’s “currency.”

On Monday, OpenAP, the advanced advertising firm founded by the owners of most of the large TV networks, says that it will create a joint industry committee to focus on premium video currency, with the intent to have multiple currency options in place ahead of the 2024 upfront.

Warner Bros. Discovery, NBCUniversal, Fox Corp., Paramount Global and TelevisaUnivision are all on board with the plan. Warner Bros. Discovery executive vp of digital ad sales and advanced advertising, as well as NBCUniversal ad sales president Krishan Bhatia, tell The Hollywood Reporter in an interview that they expect other publishers and programmers to join them soon.

“I’m confident we will have more members join in short order, in the coming weeks and months,” Bhatia said. “And we’ve already gotten really positive indications from other programmers.”

The catch is that any new members need to be focused on premium long-form video (sorry, TikTok), and need to be willing to share their streaming data (more on that below). The two obvious players in the space are Disney and Netflix, each of which have launched new ad-supported streaming tiers in recent months.

For decades, measurement giant Nielsen has dominated the TV currency market through its panel-driven products, though in recent years other competitors, and new products from Nielsen, have complemented those efforts.

A common currency is seen as a requirement for advertisers, media buyers and programmers to meaningfully transact.

The new committee suggests that the future of premium video, be it on linear TV or streaming platforms, will have multiple currencies for programmers and marketers to transact with. Nielsen, it should be noted, will be one of those currencies.

“There was a fair amount of alignment and coalescence around the need for it, how to do it and also with whom,” Bhatia added. “There’s a handful of new measurement companies and currency providers that have emerged as the leaders, in addition to the incumbents, and at the same time, I think it still wasn’t moving fast enough to really take advantage of the opportunity to ensure a more accurate, more precise and a more speedy way of measuring cross-platform premium video.”

Notably, the companies are also agreeing to create a programmer data set that will harmonize first-party viewership data from their respective streaming services (think Paramount , HBO Max, Peacock, etc.) using OpenAP infrastructure.

The group intends to have the viewership data audited by an independent auditor, and to work with third parties like the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB), Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and other trade groups to accelerate measurement efforts.

Agencies and advertisers will be able to choose which currencies they want to transact with.

“We want to make sure that we’re aligning on standards, and have common definitions of what an impression is, or what a view is, or how a stream is calculated, and we want to make sure that each of the individual programmer groups are looking at it from the same point of view and that all of the measurement companies — whether or not it’s Nielsen or VideoAmp, or ComScore or others — that they are also aligned to the same definitions,” said Jim Keller, EVP, Digital Ad Sales and Advanced Advertising at Warner Bros. Discovery. “We don’t think that the industry moves forward if there are different ways of looking at the same types of data sets. And if we do it all in a privacy-compliant way, we believe that we’ll be able to move the business forward collectively.”

In an indication of the significance of the move, OpenAP released a joint statement attributed to NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell, Paramount CEO Bob Bakish, TelevisaUnivision CEO Wade Davis and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav.

“The sustainability of the premium video advertising model depends on an ecosystem for measurement that is transparent, independent, inclusive, and accurately reflects the way all people consume premium video content today – across multiple screens, connections, and devices,” the CEO statement said. “By coming together to establish this JIC, we can collaborate and accelerate the efforts to implement a new multi-currency future that fosters more competition, inclusivity and innovation and will ultimately better serve advertisers, agencies and consumers.”

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