NBCU certifies iSpot, VideoAmp currency for advanced audiences, intros content quality index

NBCUniversal on Wednesday announced that measurement vendors iSpot and VideoAmp are now certified as currencies for advanced audiences, while also introducing a metric that looks to measure content quality in an evolving measurement landscape.

With the certifications it means iSpot is serving as a cross-platform currency that can deliver on both age and gender, as well as advanced, while VideoAmp is serving as an additional currency that can serve advanced audience ad buyers, said NBCU’s Kelly Abcarian in an interview with Fierce Video.

Measurement is a hot topic as the industry is in the midst of major changes, both in terms of TV viewing and fragmentation across various platforms and the data used to measure and target advertising investments.

At last year’s upfront, NBCU announced that 40% of its deals were moving beyond traditional measurement of age and gender, and Abcarian, EVP of measurement and impact at NBCU, anticipates continued use of new currencies, saying that “change is here” and that by 2024 there will be 100% new currencies.

“I think we’ll continue to see acting and transacting on these new cross-platform currencies, both in terms of age and gender as well as advanced audiences,” Abcarian said.

NBCU will still be using traditional measurement firm Nielsen for this year’s upfront, transacting on the vendor’s C3 and C7 metrics (aka measurement of the average viewership of commercials within TV shows, live and delayed three and seven days after their original air date), until Nielsen One goes live. At that time, NBCU will assess Nielsen’s certification readiness. iSpot and VideoAmp will be NBCU’s cross-platform certified currency partners that the company is ready to act and transact on with clients in the Upfront.

Ten major advertisers are already transacting with NBCU today on iSpot currencies, the company disclosed Wednesday during its One23 developer conference.

VideoAmp and iSpot aren’t the only new vendors getting certified by NBCU. Coinciding with its third annual One23 developer conference, NBCU announced 29 new certifications (bringing its tally to 38 across the NBCU Measurement Framework), with 27 of those sitting outside of the transactional metrics of reach, frequency, and impressions.

The point of many certifications is NBCU’s strong focus “on the impact of measurement, from brand lift to sales lift, to multi-touch attribution,” Abcarian said.

Certifications of iSpot and VideoAmp also tie into a new capability disclosed at the One23 developer conference, where NBCU is tapping FreeWheel (a unit of parent Comcast) to enable in-flight optimization on streaming TV ad campaigns. That involves launching new APIs to support real-time multi-currency optimization and in-flight pacing against iSpot, VideoAmp and others, meaning marketers will be able to adjust streaming campaigns moment-by-moment.

Content Quality Index

When it comes to measurement, NBCU also thinks quality of content is a metric that up until now has largely been ignored but deserves greater prominence when thinking about advertising investment.

Abcarian said that where audiences view ads varies greatly today, noting the proliferation of numerous entertainment options – and believes the ad experience and the content environment “matters a lot.”

To that end, it’s launched a Content Quality Index in partnership with MarketCast. The metric provides a single score to compare how entertainment content, the advertising environment and ad creative interplay to drive impact for advertisers across content types and platforms.

The aim is to create an understanding of unified advertising resonance within NBCU’s platform to apply to unified reach measurement, according to the executive.

“Today’s new measurement frameworks are really focused exclusively on audience reach, which is treating all content and ad experiences equally. And we believe not all content is created equal and advertising measurement shouldn’t treat it that way,” Abcarian noted.

For example, she pointed to ads that sit next to critically acclaimed original series, big sporting events, or user generated viral videos, saying NBCU believes demonstrating the quality of content in an ad environment “has a true halo effect on advertising.”

When advertisers go to the Upfronts to spend billions of dollars, she said it’s not just to reach viewers but to make an impact.

“With reach, it’s measuring the quantity, and with resonance we can measure the quality. And by measuring them and bringing those metrics more closely tied together, we can help our advertisers get a truer picture of their advertising value.”

Historically, measurement for typical ad recall was evaluated for how ads resonated based on creative quality, media spend, and impressions generated, she explained. The content quality score now adds two elements of the play environment that ads are running in and the content quality.

By upping the importance factor of content quality, NBCU believes it’s a clear way to show the value of investments it has made in premium content and ad experiences.

“So helping us to really differentiate from other ad-supported digital and social media platforms that depend heavily on viral videos or other user-generated content,” Abcarian said. NBCU also thinks buyers should want to understand and quantify the direct impact content quality and ad experience has on advertising performance.

The new metric helps support brand and agency investment with premium content providers like NBCU, she added, and is an example of “really starting to offer true transparency into how those things help drive upper and mid-funnel advertising performance and impact.”

Abcarian said NBCU will be trialing the content quality index over the next 12 months and delivering results to clients, with the goal to scale it out by 2024.