In the week leading up to the JIC event, Nielsen called out the organization in a letter for what it perceived as unfair requirements that would favor its new crop of competitors. Despite the JIC’s response, Nielsen’s absence from the JIC upfront doesn't suggest much optimism that the measurement company would join the group, particularly as Nielsen announced it would revert to panel-based data in spite of industry pushes for big data use in this year’s upfront dealmaking.
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Of note in the back-and-forth was Nielsen’s assertion that the JIC is undermining the value of Media Ratings Council accreditation, the longstanding seal of approval for the accuracy of measurement data—which Nielsen lost in 2021 and only recently regained. John Halley, president of advertising at Paramount, said in the event’s opening panel the JIC’s purpose is not to audit data like the MRC, but to create roadmaps for big data products that can be utilized industry-wide.
“Saying that JIC certification should require MRC accreditation is just logically flawed—it doesn’t really make sense,” said Halley, noting that while Nielsen’s panel data was reaccredited, its big data add-on, Digital Ad Ratings product and upcoming Nielsen One platform are not. Halley said Nielsen’s push for MRC accreditation as part of JIC requirements “is weaponizing the MRC. I think there’s no other way to look at it.”
That’s not to say that networks and agencies won’t still trade on Nielsen during this year’s upfront using both its panel and big data offerings. Jon Steinlauf, chief U.S. advertising sales officer at Warner Bros. Discovery, said his company has “agencies that are asking to negotiate this upfront on big data, and we would like to take them up on it, whether it’s Nielsen, VideoAmp, Comscore.”
Similarly, TelevisaUnivision is “leaning in so hard to what Nielsen is doing with the big data sets because it's finally bringing equity” to multicultural audience measurement, said Donna Speciale, the Hispanic media company’s president of advertising sales and marketing. Concerns over Nielsen’s ability to accurately capture diverse audiences through its 41,000-household panel have long been a point of contention for the company.
“Dollars are not being put into this [multicultural] marketplace because of the lack of representation” in measurement, said Speciale. “We have been looking at the big data from Nielsen and the numbers are enormous. That’s because we’re playing catch-up for decades of invisibility in this area. We can’t wait any longer.”
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