Competing broadcast and cable TV executives are meeting this week to discuss developing a shared model to show how well advertisers' commercials worked, according to people familiar with the talks.
Dubbed "Thor," the budding initiative is the latest attempt by the TV industry to answer the rise of digital media, which has benefited from a seeming ability to prove its ads led to the purchase of a product or the test-drive of a car, for example.
"We want to show TV works and we can prove it," says one TV executive involved in conversations, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the fledgling plan.
The group of TV ad sales executives will hear from Data Plus Math, an analytics company that aims to "link advertising exposure to real world customers," according to its website.
It will pitch its "multi-touch" attribution model as a new common yardstick for networks to prove their ads' effectiveness. Such a platform would allow TV networks to show clients not only that their ads reached a certain audience but that they produced specific effects.
While TV networks already conduct internal research for advertisers on the effectiveness of their campaigns, Thor would standardize it so marketers could see how their campaigns delivered on their business goals across multiple networks.
While the ability to target audiences beyond traditional age and sex demographics has been a focal point for many TV networks over the past few years, there's a growing desire among marketers to prove the returns on their investment.
There's also more of a willingness among TV networks to band together against digital competition. This spring, Turner, Fox and Viacom teamed up to help standardize audience targeting on TV. That means an advertiser going after a very specific audience segment can apply that same segmentation across the three network groups. Their initiative, called OpenAP, ended testing and became became widely available to advertisers earlier this month.
Thor is not being positioned as a competitor to OpenAP. The idea is that networks could be a part of both if they choose.
The magazine industry in 2015 banded together to offer big advertisers not just metrics on sales results but to guarantee them.