Warner Bros. Discovery enlists Comscore, VideoAmp as alternative currencies for Upfront season

Warner Bros. Discovery on Monday announced Comscore and VideoAmp as alternative currencies for this year’s Upfront season, with the vendors delivering an option for national ad clients and partners to transact on as WBD negotiates deals across its linear inventory.

WBD is also using Comscore and VideoAmp to boost cross-platform measurement and enable capabilities for ad clients to transact against advanced audiences.

In a statement, WBD EVP Andrea Zapta highlighted the importance of using multiple currencies in the evolving TV landscape.

“Optionality has always been a key part of our approach to measurement and currency, and we are excited to operationalize against multiple currencies at scale and unlock more value for our partners this Upfront season,” said Zapata, head of Ad Sales Research, Measurement and Insights at WBD, in a statement.. “We have full confidence in Comscore and VideoAmp to help us execute our vision around currency, and we’re excited to leverage these innovative and effective solutions as we as an industry move away from a single-source currency.”

The currency designation by WBD for VideoAmp is the vendor’s latest, having disclosed an earlier measurement deal with WBD in January. At the time, VideoAmp said it would provide a full suite of measurement data and capabilities across WBD’s linear, streaming and digital portfolio. In February VideoAmp scored another win when it, alongside iSpot, was certified by NBCUniversal as currency for advanced audiences for ad buyers.

“The industry is in need of better audience measurement and transactional capabilities,” said Michael Parkes, President of VideoAmp, in a statement. “By teaming up with such an iconic company with massive reach and engaged audiences, we’re committed to providing advertisers with greater visibility into the true value of both the breadth and depth of the Warner Bros. Discovery portfolio.”

VideoAmp and iSpot are among an emerging crop of players in the audience and advertising measurement space, which is undergoing significant changes alongside shifts in viewership and increased fragmentation in the TV landscape.

Speaking to Fierce Video last month NBCU’s Kelly Abcarian said she anticipates continued and increasing use of alternate currencies, expecting 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, EVP of Measurement and Impact at NBCU, said at the time.

In announcing its use of Comscore and VideoAmp as alternate currencies, WBD noted it created a test-and-learn assessment last year to evaluate third-party measurement providers. It reviewed potential partners across five areas of methodology, reporting, activation, stewardship and campaign findings.

According to WBD, the process revealed learnings that it believes the larger industry can put in place to advance measurement and enable alternate currencies at scale. Some of those insights include: the need for standardization  to align on basic definitions and building blocks consistently across currency measurement partners); personification (knowing who is in front of the TV seeing an ad, not just who lives I the home); identity resolution (the need for multiple identity partners to accurately link devices and touchpoints to a single profile or household); and transaction capability (the need for partners to integrate with systems and workflows that allows transaction on the buy and sell side for linear and digital).

WBD said this all goes towards its effort to implement audience-based measurement to help guide media planning and buying, with plans to continue the test-and-learn approach with Comscore, VideoAmp, as well as a variety of other partners.

Some of the issues laid out by WBD have been echoed by wider-industry efforts to advance new forms of measurement, specifically by the OpenAP-led U.S. Joint Industry Committee, of which WBD is a participant. The JIC, which has support from major programmers (notably minus Disney) as well as buyside agencies, released a baseline set of criteria for certifying alternate currency cross-platform measurement vendors – a program it hopes to have up and running with multiple currencies certified and suitable by the 2024 Upfront.