NBCUniversal, a longtime critic of Nielsen, has issued a request for proposal to more than 50 providers in pursuit of new “measurement yardsticks” for advertisers. Calling current media measurement “outdated,” Kelly Abcarian, a former Nielsen exec who now works as Executive VP of Measurement and Impact at NBCUniversal, has put out a call for the advertising industry to declare its “measurement independence.”
Among the companies that received RFPs from NBC Universal, according to MediaPost, are Nielsen, Comscore, Data Plus Math, Conviva, Truthset, VideoAmp and iSpot.
Abcarian is no stranger in radio and TV research circles. During her 16 years at Nielsen she worked closely on improvements to the measurement giant’s ratings methodologies. The radio industry first became acquainted with Abcarian when she played a role in the integration of Arbitron with Nielsen when the latter acquired the former in September 2013. She joined NBCUniversal in April.
Now she is calling on the advertising industry to build an entirely new blueprint. “When companies depend on outdated advertising measurement, diverse and dynamic consumer behaviors are ignored. Meanwhile, consumer experience suffers with things like cluttered ad spaces,” she wrote in an opinion piece for AdAge. “We should put people over ratings.”
With Nielsen and other providers dealing with complex challenges when trying to keep up with the evolving dynamics of viewing behavior, Abcarian is advocating for “multiple yardsticks” to match multiple consumer viewing experiences. Interoperable data sets, she says, will produce better inputs, more ways to de-duplicate data and new methods to measure any key performance indicator.
“In this fragmented landscape, we all understand different pieces of the consumer experience. So, let's make it whole,” Abcarian says. “We just need to embrace new sources of identity signals and make data more accessible and actionable, because that unified picture will give us the ability to follow the consumer's lead.”
Pointing to social media and streaming platforms as media channels that chose independence over a single metric, Abcarian is calling on the entire media industry to do the same. “Measurement independence frees up innovation. It will require collaboration with measurement and data partners who can measure success outside the traditional box,” she writes.
The call to arms comes as some media and advertising execs think Nielsen is taking too long to adapt its TV measurement service to the reality of today’s marketplace. As media consumption continues to evolve, Nielsen is investing in Nielsen One, the highly touted offering that will use a single metric to measure streaming and linear TV viewing, allowing advertisers and content providers to look at total video consumption regardless of platform or device. The system is expected to launch in fourth quarter 2022.
The NBCU missive also comes after Nielsen earlier this month said it was taking a “hiatus” from the Media Rating Council’s accreditation process of its TV ratings service, which came under fire for undercounting TV audience estimates during the pandemic because of COVID-related restrictions on its in-person panel-related maintenance and recruitment procedures.