TV Upfront

NBC Universal Ready to Move Beyond Nielsen Guarantees

Will Let (Some) Marketers Set Guarantees on Other Data During Upfronts

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Jaimie Alexander as Jane Doe on NBC's 'Blindspot.'
Jaimie Alexander as Jane Doe on NBC's 'Blindspot.' Credit: Paul Sarkis/NBC
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Comcast's NBC Universal is the latest TV group ready to do business without relying on traditional Nielsen metrics.

During this year's upfront ad haggle the company is offering certain marketers the opportunity to buy audiences against more specific data points beyond age and gender, said Mike Rosen, exec VP-advertising sales, news and Hispanics groups at NBC Universal, which owns networks including Bravo, USA Network, E! and Syfy in addition to NBC.

Through its Audience Targeting Platform, NBCU will fully guarantee targeted delivery of highly specified audiences, such as households with an income over $100,000 and a car lease set to expire in six months, for example. Just as it does with Nielsen metrics, NBCU will offer makegoods for any shortfalls.

While NBCU allowed advertisers to optimize their TV buys last year by finding audiences based on specific criteria, it still set guarantees utilizing Nielsen metrics, Mr. Rosen said.

NBCU will use varying data sets based upon the clients needs, including data from Comcast set-top boxes, first-party data from its own sites like Fandango and third-party resources. Marketers will be able to apply that data in both national linear TV and for household-level targeting in video on demand.

Only a select group of advertisers will be offered the opportunity to utilize the new guarantees. But Mr. Rosen said he expects "it will represent a significant volume business with certain key clients."

Fox Networks Group announced last month that it will do some deals during the upfronts that don't rely on Nielsen. Turner has also been offering marketers the ability to set guarantees beyond Nielsen through its AudienceNow product.

Nielsen acknowledged that analytics to gauge return on investment are increasingly important but said analytics data and ratings are fundamentally different.

"We believe it is imperative to have an independent, unified and common measurement used for advertising currency across the industry and will continue to work with all of our clients in order to bring our currency quality data to the market," said Kelly Abcarian, senior VP-product leadership, Nielsen, in a statement provided by a spokesman. "Additionally, while secondary guarantees might be made on an ROI metric versus a reach metric, Nielsen audience and buyer data is often used as a key ingredient in these systems, acting as a foundational element that underpins everything. In fact, while the industry still needs age and gender based measurement for large scale ad campaigns, the Total Audience framework we have been rolling out allows the industry to get more sophisticated at finding consumers and fueling advanced guarantees."