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Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

Two major networks, NBCUniversal and ESPN, are rolling out their own advertising standards in an effort to harmonize how they measure digital, live, on-demand and TV audiences.

Why it matters: All of these bodies are trying to get their standards adopted across the entire industry, but so far, none of them are, which makes video ad buying across the video universe difficult and confusing for ad buyers. 

NBCUniversal is rolling out a new advertising metric called CFlight, which will measure all advertising impressions across all of NBCU — whether those ads were consumed live, on-demand, on linear TV or digital platforms. ESPN has similarly rolled out its own standards to measure video viewership across platforms. ESPN says will count linear and streaming audiences as the same.

To make matters more complicated, the industry group that traditionally creates and enforces uniform measurement standards for all media companies, The Media Rating Council (MRC), has proposed its own uniform standard for video consumption for all networks.

Some networks think the MRC is moving too slow, which is why they are moving quickly on their own. But MRC disagrees with their metrics approach.

"We believe the choice of using a complete view to monetize is a custom choice for the campaign seller and/or buyer, and we are enabling metrics to measure that, but we do not intend to make a complete view the counting standard for a cross-platform ad impression."
George Ivie, President MRC

The irony is some of the measurement companies that the networks have bumped heads with in the past for their TV ratings technology, are now praising some new efforts, because they will be a part of the way some of them measure video impressions by their own, new standards.

  • “We support NBCU’s efforts to evolve measurement, and Nielsen’s TV and digital ad currency play a critical role,” a spokesperson from Nielsen tells Axios. 

Similar measurement headaches are happening with viewability standards — or whether an ad loads to the point of completion.

  • GroupM, a leading digital advertising agency, eventually rolled out their own standard in 2015, which essentially became adopted by the industry.
  • The MRC's own standard became more widely adopted months later.
  • Some brands, like HP, Nestle, and IBM are also beginning to roll out their own thresholds for viewability, further complicating the process for marketers. 

The view from advertisers:

"The buy-side is pretty positive about the work NBCUniversal is doing to account for audiences across all their video viewing platforms in one place... Traditionally, TV advertising sales packages have been difficult to manage because they don't account for audiences being fragmented across platforms. For advertisers, having the opportunity to see potential audiences from all the platforms in one place can make a big impact on making more efficient and targeted media buying decisions."
— David Hahn, Chief Strategy Officer, IAS

Go deeper

U.S. attorney finalist trashes Labor secretary

Rachael Rollins and Marty Walsh. Photos: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images (Rollins); Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images (Walsh)

A finalist for U.S. attorney in Boston is publicly trashing the city's former mayor — Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.

Why it matters: Rachael Rollins’ approach is perpetuating scrutiny of a troubled Cabinet secretary and fellow Democrat — and hints at the independence she may exhibit if tapped for top federal prosecutor for the eastern half of Massachusetts.

Parties pounce on China as midterm issue

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Democrats and Republicans in purple states are already leaning into U.S. competition with China as a key issue in the fight to control the Senate in 2022.

Why it matters: American voters hold increasingly negative feelings toward the Chinese government, particularly around bilateral economic relations and following the nation’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Scoop: Pandemic's "wake-up call" for restoring industry

Brian Deese. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

National Economic Council director Brian Deese will label the coronavirus pandemic a "wake-up call" to bring manufacturing jobs back to America in a speech Wednesday unveiling the Biden administration’s industrial policy, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: President Biden’s campaign was predicated on providing well-paying jobs for millions of Americans who've seen the country’s industrial heartland hollowed out by automation and competition for lower-cost labor from other countries.

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