GroupM Pushes Ahead With Its Own Cross-Platform Ad Measurement Efforts

Working with both Nielsen and comScore on a new option

GroupM, which helped create the C3 metric in 2006, is ready to evolve commercial ratings again.
Getty Images, GroupM

As Nielsen’s Total Content Ratings rollout hit more snags last month, GroupM is moving ahead with its own efforts to bring a workable multiplatform ad measurement metric to the market.

Longtime chief investment officer Rino Scanzoni—who in November was named executive chairman and CEO at Midas Exchange, WPP’s media bartering division, and Modi Media, GroupM’s advanced advertising unit in the U.S.—spoke about the company’s progress today at CIMM’s 6th Annual Cross-Platform Media Measurement and Data Summit in New York.

GroupM helped establish the C3 commercial ratings metric in 2006, but viewing habits have evolved rapidly since then. “The problem we have is that technology is moving a hell of a lot faster than our ability to measure audiences that are consuming content across of all these different platforms,” said Scanzoni. “We need to move as quickly as we can.”

With linear ratings eroding each year, multiplatform measurement “makes the business a much more viable enterprise for the long term. You cannot sustain losses of audience that are now pretty much double-digit across every television venue, year on year,” said Scanzoni.

That’s why GroupM is trying to create “what is really the next evolution of commercial ratings, which is to aggregate audiences across all of the platforms that that content runs in, within a seven-day window.”

Because of the complexity of the marketplace, it was essential to measure the program content first across all platforms, and then evolve that to a commercial metric. That’s what Nielsen has been doing with its Total Audience Measurement platform, which includes Total Content Ratings, or TCR.

Originally, Nielsen had planned to make TCR data publicly available as of March 1, but several networks—led by NBCUniversal’s Linda Yaccarino—asked Nielsen to delay its release.

"Technology is moving a hell of a lot faster than our ability to measure audiences that are consuming content across of all these different platforms."
Rino Scanzoni

Last month, Nielsen modified its Total Content Ratings release plans, with a “limited commercial release” on March 1 instead of making the metrics available to all Nielsen clients. Beginning on the date, publishers can choose to share their own data externally, with media, agencies or for other business purposes, but will not be able to release data from competitors.

“The idea that Total Content Ratings was going to be that first stage, because of delays, that’s kind of off the board now,” said Scanzoni.

So GroupM is moving ahead with its own approach, which is to lay out the issues and come up with solutions before developing the product. “As many people as possible should sign off and agree on what steps to take and how you should move forward,” he said.

The company is working behind the scenes with issues like managing the commercial load and watermarking content so it can be measured. After that, the company plans to “put forward solutions that are practical in our conversations with Nielsen and comScore, and then have the industry move it forward. We’re just queuing it up,” he said.

GroupM and the Video Advertising Bureau recently met with “every major network,” said Scanzoni, and GroupM chief investment officer Lyle Schwartz took them through their proposal, the issues they’ve identified and possible solutions moving forward.

The next step will be for researchers at each network to dig into the approach, and work “to get this thing in some sort of realistic, active, workable format, in a relatively quick time frame,” said Scanzoni. However, this metric won’t be ready in time for this year’s upfront.

The company’s goal is to get “most people to agree on a format that makes sense, then you put that into an actual, workable product,” he said. “If we can agree on 70 percent, let’s move forward, because we’re not going to get agreement on 100 percent.”

GroupM is working separately with measurement rivals Nielsen and comScore on its efforts, “because we believe that a competitive environment is the best way to move this thing forward,” Scanzoni said. Competition in this area is “critical,” especially given that Nielsen became “a hell of a lot more responsive” to industry concerns after comScore and Rentrak announced their merger in September 2015.

But many clients aren’t waiting for a new multiplatform metric—whether it’s from GroupM, Nielsen or comScore—to alter their ad buys. Currently, 30 to 40 percent of GroupM’s clients transact some business on data metrics beyond age, sex and geography, Scanzoni said.