How NBCUniversal Is Giving Brand Partners the Most Comprehensive Understanding of Their Ad Exposures

The network introduced CFlight

CFlight is unique in that its unified ad metric only counts digital impressions viewed to completion. Trae Patton/NBC
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Brands pay a lot of money to advertise on NBCUniversal’s vast portfolio of media assets. That’s why the company is helping its advertisers and agency partners understand just how many people are consuming their commercials across all viewing platforms, linear and digital alike. The network introduced CFlight, a unified advertising metric measuring live, on-demand and time-shifted commercial impressions within full episodes of shows on every viewing platform.

This metric is based on a composite score developed from independent, third-party sources (including Nielsen, ComScore and Moat) to equate linear and digital media viewing.

“What was television three years ago is still television, but it’s being delivered in different ways,” said NBCUniversal entertainment ad sales evp Mark Marshall. “CFlight is our attempt to have a new form of measurement for the new ways that people are consuming our content.”

From a digital standpoint, CFlight is unique in that its unified ad metric only counts digital impressions viewed to completion; the advertiser will only pay for what’s viewed all the way through.

NBCUniversal chairman, advertising and client partnerships, NBCUniversal Linda Yaccarino echoed Marshall’s sentiment, stating that consumer behavior has changed and that it’s time for metrics to catch up.

“As our industry questions the strength of digital-first advertising, we are guaranteeing that campaigns running around NBCUniversal content, regardless of platform, are reaching true, valuable audiences at scale,” said Yaccarino.

The digital impressions component of CFlight is pivotal. OTT represents more than one third of the company’s long-form, digital video consumption. Those digital impressions across all platforms need to be reported so advertisers are able to get the most bang for their buck.

“The idea is, regardless of how people want to consume our content, we want to be able to measure that consumption and have enough flexibility to be able to move our clients to take advantage of those trends and how they exist.,” said Marshall.

Two years ago, the company’s mobile numbers were up through the roof, Marshall said. Today, mobile numbers are up 40% year-over-year, but OTT consumption is up 52% this year.

CFlight may look familiar to some. It is, in essence, a continuation of NBCU’s Total Audience Delivery metric (TAD), which NBC Olympics leveraged when measuring the prime-time audiences for its past two Olympic Games broadcasts. TAD measures NBC Olympics viewing across all linear and digital platforms and screens.

At least one high-profile agency is a fan of CFlight. “NBCU’s move is a step in the right direction, consistent with work we’ve being doing market-wide to get to measurement of commercial viewing, in addition to more complete program ratings,” said GroupM chief investment officer Lyle Schwartz.

“We’ve been working closely with NBCU and other key industry leaders on solutions to expand the currency definition so that it takes into account cross-device consumer viewing behavior as well as media owners’ desire for more flexibility in receiving currency credit for audiences to ads,” Nielsen added in a statement. “NBCU’s announcement today is a reflection of this work, and we look forward to our continued partnership as we collectively develop and implement new innovations in measurement.”

NBCUniversal’s digital properties have grown exponentially over the past five years, says Marshall—yet the company didn’t have the measurements to keep up. With CFlight, NBCU feels it has a game changer for its brands and agency partners.

“What we’re really doing here is just taking measurement systems that are already there, and putting them together in a manner that makes sense,” said Marshall. “We reached the point where advertisers and agencies who have seen it wonder why it hasn’t been done already, which is, of course, a nice thing for us to hear.”

@ajkatztv A.J. Katz is the senior editor of Adweek's TVNewser.