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RTL AdConnect inks measurement deal to lure US brands to Europe

RTL AdConnect sells Fremantle inventory, which includes American Idol / FMScreenings

RTL AdConnect, the sales house for RTL Group, has brought on TVSquared as its exclusive pan-European measurement provider in an effort to entice American brands looking toward international expansion.

RTL Group, which is one of Europe’s largest broadcasters, already has partnerships with smaller measurement firms in individual countries. However, the deal with TVSquared aims to standardize TV measurement and attribution across the whole of Europe to make it easier for US brands to enter the market.

The sales group is specifically targeting direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, its fastest growing business sector, said AdConnect's managing director, Stephane Coruble.

“We need to make sure we're measuring TV like we're measuring digital,” said Coruble, adding that RTL AdConnect wants to position itself as the “gateway” to Europe for American brands.

Courting DTC brands used to the granular campaign metrics of digital advertising could be a way for RTL Group to stem recent losses in advertising revenue.

Full year ad revenue for 2018 fell by roughly 1%, or €47.9m ($53.2), compared to the prior year. That continued in 2019, with first half ad revenue down 2.1% year-on-year.

DTC companies are advertising more on TV, having increased national TV spend by 35.8% in 2018 and 52.9% in the first half of 2019.

Coruble said the first challenge is to raise the brand awareness of RTL stateside, since the broadcaster doesn’t own any TV stations in the US.

However, RTL Group does own Fremantle, a production company whose properties include American Idol, The Price is Right and Family Feud.

US brands looking to grow in Europe also have to familiarize themselves with the region’s TV ad model, which varies country to country and, overall, is considerably different from that of the US.

“You will have different measurement systems at local levels.” said Coruble, “But at the end of the day, when it comes to attribution, you will have the same KPIs."

RTL AdConnect says it simplifies pan-European decision making with the offer of a single dashboard.

TVSquared tags a brand’s website and matches it with spot data – such as the cost of a TV ad and the time and location it aired – to measure business outcomes and attribution in near real-time.

Jo Kinsella, chief revenue officer of TVSquared, said providing that level of information could also help European brands enter the US market, too, where the measurement firm and RTL AdConnect have a similar relationship.

“We have European brands ... on the platform that have been reluctant to try the US because it's really big, really expensive and it comes across as being really hard,” said Kinsella. “If you can make that frictionless by simplifying it massively, then we'll see adoption the other way as well.”

Coruble said the US is the “priority market” for AdConnect, which plans to double its staff of seven between New York and Los Angeles by the end of the year.

RTL Group operates 150 TV channels in 12 different European countries. The measurement deal covers RTL’s total TV footprint, which includes linear broadcast, on demand and its digital properties.

RTL Group plans to grow its total number of paying subscribers to its digital platforms by at least 3 million by 2021, boosting VOD revenue to a projected €360m ($400m).

More broadcasters are onboarding measurement alternatives to the likes of Nielsen to offer advertisers more granular audience data beyond age and gender.

TVSquared has similar deals with Comcast’s Effectv, NBCUniversal and Ampersand. Fox and NBCU have deals with iSpot TV to measure business outcomes, too.

“This is now about changing the conversation and [networks are] saying we're going to sell you a mix, we're going to sell you linear and digital, and we're going to be transparent,” said Kinsella.

“We're going to give you your own dashboard to… keep us honest and keep us accountable.”

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