Mediahub Aims to Add Cultural Metrics to TV’s Measurement Debate

Big media companies and Nielsen have battled for months over the exact way to count TV viewers who no longer watch traditional TV when they want to see a favorite sitcom or drama. One media agency wants to test a different tactic.

Mediahub, a media-buying agency that is part of Interpublic Group, has been asking big media companies to consider ad deals that involve not just guarantees of audience impressions, as has long been the norm. but commitments to other sorts of measures that examine whether the commercials spur the people who saw them to take new action.

Such a deal could put “more skin in the game from media partners,” says Carrie Drinkwater. the agency’s chief investment officer. “It also helps them change the conversation to get away from the Nielsen linear discussion.”

Most deals between advertisers and TV networks are typically based on the number of consumers commercials are expected to reach ,with a measure known as a CPM, or cost of reaching 1,000 people, utilized as a means of comparison to other media inventory.

In the recent past, however, several TV networks and agencies have tried to tie advertising purchases to so-called “business outcomes,” or “key performance indicators,“ hoping to build in guarantees that commercials will inspire those who see one to buy a movie ticket, visit a car dealer’s web site or request a product sample be sent to a home. MediaHub’s efforts could put a finer point on such demands by focusing not on bespoke product sales or inquiries but on broader measures.

“Our visions of advertising aren’t just based on impressions, but whether there is an impact on culture.,” says Michelle Crossan-Matos, chief marketing officer of Ulta Beauty, a Mediahub client. “We want to be able to put a measure on it that goes beyond a CPM.”

The executive says she is able to keep tabs on what interests Ulta’s customers most at any given time by examining the sentiments of people involved in consumer panels, as well as tracking what’s selling in stories. “They are telling me daily, ‘This is what’s important. This is what matters to me,” wsays Crossan-Matos, who says she uses the feedback to tell Mediahub; “How can we jump on this?”

Among the metrics such deals could use are social-media interactions, or online conversations, says Yvonne Leung Cain, a senior vice president and group media director at Mediahub. The agency could monitor changes in consumer sentiment, or actions taken by so-called “enthusiast consumers” identified by the advertiser. Deals would likely be “customized to every partnership that we build out,” she says.

To be sure, there’s no getting around the Nielsen of it all. A ‘culture metric,” as such arrangements might be labeled, “won’t be the primary guarantee,” says Drinkwater. “It will be a deal term” and part of a larger set of considerations.

If media conmpanies like NBCUniversal or Disney adopt such terms, they could become just the latest in a series of proposed “alternative currencies” to Nielsen’s long-standing measures of audience. Nielsen . is working hard to launch a new system called Nielsen One that it believes will be able to count audiences across digital and linear viewing windows and give advertisers and publishers a single set of metrics. Some TV executives have put forth the notion that they should not be forced to accept what is essentially a new system from Nielsen, which has not moved as quickly to monitor digital audiences as the networks might like, when there are so many other alternatives to consider and examine.

In recent months, NBCUniversal has struck an alliance with iSpotTV. Paramount Global has been working with VideoAmp, and Warner Bros. Discovery in March said it would work with Comscore and VideoAmp to develop a new system of exchange. Adding some new measures of consumer activity and reaction would definitely tilt the task of tabulating media audiences into more granular areas.

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