Networks Build Multiplatform Sales With Custom Metrics

In the absence of an industry standard, bespoke research boosts prospects for additional digital advertising revenue

Why This Matters

Team Coco Tries Closing YouTube Research Gap

Some research problems are harder to solve than others. At Turner Broadcasting, one problem is monetizing viewers on Conan O'Brien's Team Coco YouTube channel.
Howard Shimmel, senior VP of sales and sports research for Turner Broadcasting, says Team Coco's YouTube channel would be a major contributor to entertainment sales, but Nielsen does not have the ability to count the impressions registered there.
YouTube's owner, Google, has its own measurement system and won't run campaigns that include the tags that enable Nielsen to count ads as part of its Online Campaign Ratings.
"That's sort of the biggest measurement hole that we're facing with digital," says Shimmel. "We know how many impressions we serve to that channel. We know that from our own ad server. We're trying to get Nielsen to come up with reporting that they can provide to clients."
Another problem in measuring multiplatform campaigns is capturing out-of-home viewing, but Shimmel says Turner is making progress. "We're working with Nielsen and Arbitron on something we call CNN All-Screen," he says. It statistically combines in-home and out-of-home data with digital and mobile.
"We're very close to integrating our data into our sales planning system and potentially integrating it into our post-buy systems," Shimmel says. Turner has also started discussions with Nielsen's marketing mix modeling experts about putting the All-Screen data into the models to show the value of those incremental impressions. | @jlafayette

While there is no industry-accepted standard for measuring multiplatform
advertising, some networks are doing a brisk business in it anyway.

Why This Matters
Digital ad sales are already important to sports and news channels and are becoming increasingly significant to entertainment networks.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and
some metrics have been designed to plan
and evaluate campaigns while others are being
used as currency for transacting business.

Jeff Lucas, head of sales for Viacom’s
entertainment networks, says putting together
multi-network, multiplatform campaigns
for clients is the most important part
of business and will continue to grow. The
deals often include customized content and must also
involve customized research because no good way exists
to really measure cross-platform campaigns.

“You could put the best customized content on the
air or across multiple platforms, and if you don’t have an
agreed-upon KPI [Key Performance Indicators] ahead of
time for customized research solutions on each of those
platforms before you strike the deal you will not be successful,”
Lucas says. The research has to be customized
because each client has its own set of goals; Viacom works
with many research vendors to get the data they need.

At ESPN, 75% of the deals it does worth more than
$2 million involve more than one platform, according
to Tricia Betron, senior VP, multimedia sales.

ESPN uses a number of different research tools to
plan multiplatform campaigns. “Once we sell an advertiser
the package and the reasons why we’re recommending
this combination of screens, then each individual
screen is transacted on the best currency and the
currency that’s used by the marketplace,” Betron says.

With DVRs, VOD and online viewing cutting into traditional
ratings, the broadcast networks are scrambling
to count alternative viewing in a manner that corresponds
to the way TV buyers do business and allows
them to monetize those digital eyeballs.

With its young audience, The CW was forced to move
early and three years ago began selling ads in convergence
packages made up of broadcast spots and commercials
online on computers. A key hurdle was that while
The CW’s TV ads were sold based on demos, online ratings
just measured viewers 2 years old and up.

“We took our Nielsen Video Census
demographic information and applied it
to the people 2+ [online] giving us demo
impressions,” says Rob Tuck, executive VP
for ad sales at The CW. “We were able to
get ourselves to the point with the agencies
where the impressions on the digital platform
were demo-specific, the impressions
on the TV platform were demo-specific,
and we were able to pull the two together and create
one deal across the different platforms.”

At this point, nearly all of The CW’s clients are buying
TV and a digital package, Tuck says, and the digital impressions
account for 15% to 20% of its total. CW is applying
the same technique to viewing on tablets, Xbox and
Apple TV. It’s also getting even better data as a subscriber
to Nielsen’s Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) service. Tuck
says the network is ready for whatever comes next.

At its upfront the past two years, ABC has been
touting its ability to sell TV and digital together. With
online viewing representing 10% of ABC primetime
viewership, ABC is using a combination of C3 TV ratings
and OCR data to solve the cross-platform measurement
gap, according to Adam Gerber, VP, sales
development and marketing.

“Adoption of the ABC Unified offering is increasing
rapidly,” Gerber says. “Our measurement discussions
with clients and agencies have been very productive. They
understand the challenge and recognize that it is best to
focus on what’s possible, and not what’s perfect.”

ABC is currently evaluating OCR’s measurement of
app-based viewing on tablets and smartphones, as well as
comScore’s vCE multiplatform measurement. “We aren’t
stopping. We’re pushing forward,” Gerber said.

While networks have been able to come up with good
estimates for delivery, there is still some information
that’s tough to come by. “The market—the advertisers
and their agencies—are not requiring or requesting
as much in terms of knowing unduplicated reach and
frequency,” says Howard Shimmel, senior VP, advertising
sales and sports research for Turner Broadcasting.
“There’s not really a great way from a sales planning or
an agency planning standpoint to estimate unduplicated
reach and frequency of a TV, digital and mobile campaign
right now.”

Despite that, more networks are getting into the game.
During the upfront, the Fox Cable Entertainment Group
launched FX Now, which looks to monetize the nonlinear
viewing for its original programs and movies in
part by counting digital impressions with the first three
days of air as part of the overall ad buy. “Comfort with
the measurement varies across the platforms, and as
such you have to be adaptable and flexible,” says Bruce
Lefkowitz, executive VP of ad sales for the group. “I’m
pretty confident in the product. And the way we’re selling
it now will be very different in 12 to 18 months.”

Since September, ESPN has been working with Nielsen
and comScore on Project Blueprint, a five-platform measurement
system. The first results showed that by adding
ESPN’s digital properties to its TV, advertisers picked up
23% in additional reach among men in a week. “It’s not
just incremental reach, it’s incremental effectiveness,” says
Barbara Singer, ESPN VP advertiser insights and research.

Singer says ESPN has started to talk about Project
Blueprint with media agencies, with an eye toward
having the industry take it over. “It answers so many
of the questions people have,” she says.