Currencies: The Road Ahead

Blog   |   Operative Team   |   September 22, 2021

Not many were surprised to hear the news that Nielsen lost their accreditation with the MRC. Without getting into the details (you can find them here, and here, and here), the ripple effects of this action will be broad. Nielsen has long been a de facto standard, underpinning almost $180 million in linear ad transactions every single day. But already, we’re starting to see large media firms call for #measurementindependence and talk about innovation in the space. And we’re starting to see competing currencies stand up to try to fill a potential void.

The measurement game has been transforming since well before the Nielsen news. Agency/advertiser demand for deeper understanding of ad spend, new means of activation, new technologies, and changing viewer habits have all caused us to rethink our measurement capabilities over the last few years. Ratings as a metric have always been the bedrock of the TV business. In recent years, data-focused TV campaigns (e.g. data driven linear, addressable, etc.) have begun transforming traditional guarantees into impression guarantees. We’ve also seen a rise in secondary demos, reach/frequency, and outcomes (think increase in sales) as campaign currency.

The impact currency changes have on publishers is significant. It requires new means of forecasting, budgeting, planning, billing, and reporting. Using a new currency only works if you can deliver it at scale, across your entire pitch to pay workflow process. Consider secondary guarantees as an example. If you are booking spots to deliver traditional 18-49 and “in the market,” it will require changes in the process for a deal to go to order. Publishers need to forecast inventory for primary and secondary targets. The data will need to be sourced and ingested from a data partner that both the buyers and sellers agree upon. Rates will have to be determined in a new way, as established rates are only relevant for the one guarantee. Inventory allocations serve two different masters as certain units will deliver better for the primary vs. secondary targets. Pacing and reporting will be challenging as the need to predict and report out delivery has a greater impact for sellers and clients.

Advertisers are always looking to maximize their ability to connect with customers – converged buying is one of the best ways to accomplish this. However, it requires a common set of metrics for reach and frequency that were unavailable, or hard to get at, with Nielsen ratings. With the shift in currency to impressions, the road to convergence becomes easier but there’s still a need for systems and processes to change. For example, converged campaigns are more effective when you apply relevant targeting, requiring data sourcing from various partners as identifiers for delivery – many of which are in flux (for example, cookies going away). Also, planning out converged campaigns, delivery projection tools, and booking systems will need more flexibility to allow the various systems to communicate using the common currency. Tracking, reconciliation, and reporting by platforms (and as a whole) will need to be updated to ingest and aggregate different data streams to see the big picture, while also allowing access to the deeper details that can be gleaned from the data.

The road ahead is exciting, and there’s no doubt that workflows will need to evolve to accommodate the new and expanding currency landscape. With this transformation comes a need for systems with built in flexibility and modernized open architecture that is both adaptive and collaborative.  As multi-currency capabilities are rolled out across all parts of the business workflow, extensibility into data providers and a strong data spine as the central component to operations are crucial. The winners of tomorrow will be the companies that are nimble and adaptable to any shifts in the measurement game. We look forward to helping our customers along this journey.