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On tails of Nielsen scandal, NBCU unveils partners to develop new measurement solutions

NBCU has assembled a group of hard-hitting industry players to improve the future of media measurement

Following its call for “measurement independence” for the video and television sector, NBCUniversal has today announced a roster of brands, media agencies and trade bodies that have pledged to work together to create more effective and reliable measurement frameworks.

NBCUniversal today revealed a list of partners who will partake in its cross-industry Measurement Innovation Forum, a newly-formed branch of the Video Advertising Bureau’s (VAB) Measurement Innovation Task Force. The new forum will bring together leading media voices – spanning industry bodies, brands and holding companies – to hash out possible solutions for the future of media measurement.

The announcement comes on the heels of NBCU’s August decision to issue an RFP to over 50 vendors, seeking innovative measurement solutions, following the Media Rating Council’s (MRC) decision to suspend the accreditation of Nielsen – the organization that for decades set the gold standard for TV ratings and measurement. The suspension accelerated and inflamed already-pronounced concerns across the industry regarding the validity, precision and effectiveness of video media measurement in an increasingly fragmented ecosystem.

NBCU’s Measurement Innovation Forum aims to help support and advance the work of key industry players who are currently leading the charge toward more independent, accurate and precise measurement frameworks, including the VAB, the Association of National Advertisers and OpenAP, Accenture’s open data platform designed specifically for the television industry.

The new partners unveiled today include Dentsu, Edelman, Havas Media, GroupM, OMD and Publicis Groupe; major industry bodies like the MRC, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the Ad Council, the Advertising Research Foundation and the 4A’s; and a handful of big brands including Citi, L’Oréal, Pfizer, Target, Volkswagen and Wayfair.

NBCU claims it’s already received 80 responses to its measurement RFP. In a blog post, penned by executive vice-president of measurement and impact, advertising and partnerships Kelly Abcarian, the company says it is eager to bring these and other media and video industry players together to “investigate, share and receive feedback at scale on new measurement yardsticks to help build a new measurement blueprint for advertising’s future.”

In a statement shared with The Drum, NBCU outlined the four primary objectives of the new Measurement Innovation Forum:

1. Partnership: the company says it aims to bring industry voices together to “supplement the critical work and existing framework of the ANA, VAB and OpenAP.”

2. Transparency: the forum aims to share its findings with the industry at large – in today’s blog post, Abcarian expressly stated that “NBCU has no interest in building another walled garden or monolithic measurement system.”

3. Research and testing: the group will investigate every viable measurement framework, “especially capabilities that accurately depict the full consumer experience, quantify advertiser impact and can serve the entire ecosystem.” It will also conduct beta testing for various contenders.

4. Interoperability and efficacy: NBCU says it will test the interoperability of measurement solutions within the current infrastructures of various media companies and assess third-party options for “accountability ... and conferring accreditation” from the MRC and other trade bodies.

“By bringing more chairs to the table and sharing information widely and transparently with all our partners,” wrote Abcarian, “we hope to help build a better measurement future for everyone.”

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