Networks Build Multiplatform Sales With Custom Metrics

In the absence of an industry standard, bespoke research boosts prospects for additional digital advertising revenue
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While there is no industry-accepted standard for measuring
multiplatform advertising, some networks are doing a brisk business in it
anyway.

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.

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