Leaders from the largest media and agency holding companies took center stage at NBCU’s third-annual technology showcase to discuss how the U.S. Joint Industry Committee is coming together to enable a multi-currency future for premium video advertising.

Read that again. For years, buyers and sellers have called for better, faster innovation and progress in cross-platform measurement. Collaboration is the catalyst that is now turning talk into action.

Last month, national programmers, the VAB and OpenAP established the first U.S. Joint Industry Committee (JIC) with the intention of bringing programmers and advertisers together to enable multiple currencies and establish the suitability of emerging cross-platform measurement solutions. On February 8, 2023, a handful of JIC members came together at One23, NBCUniversal’s annual developer conference, for the first time publicly to share why they are doubling down to advance their collective vision for premium video measurement, why now, and what to expect in the weeks and months ahead. 

The all-star panel was moderated by NBC News analyst and host of “The 11th Hour” Stephanie Ruhle, and featured Cara Lewis, Chief Investment Officer at dentsu; Amy Ginsberg, Chief Investment Officer at Havas; David Campanelli, EVP, Chief Investment Officer at Horizon Media; Krishan Bhatia, President & Chief Business Officer at NBCUniversal; Geoffrey Calabrese, Chief Investment Officer, NA at Omnicom Media Group; David Levy, CEO of OpenAP; John Halley, President, Advertising at Paramount; and Sarah Squiers, EVP, Business Development at TelevisaUnivision.  Read on below for what they had to say.

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The notion of currency is based on common denomination. It’s got to work across all of the sell-side and all of the buy-side, or it’s not going to work at all. - John Halley

The clock is ticking. As of September 2024, the legacy currency, and the basis on which advertisers and programmers have transacted for decades, will be no longer.

It’s why buyers and sellers are moving with urgency to stand up new currencies for transacting and ready the industry for a new, better era of measurement ahead of the 2024 upfront. This is the impetus for creating the standards needed to enable new currencies at scale and is the first item of business on the JIC’s agenda in the coming weeks.

Panelists agreed that the future of video advertising will be multi-currency. There will not be a one-size-fits-all approach (and that’s a good thing), but standards will be vital to assessing a measurement provider’s readiness and competency.

“We need to set standardized requirements that all measurement providers adhere to, so we can hold them accountable,” Bhatia explained. “Competition is an important thing. We all compete for wallet share, for consumers, measurement companies ought to compete with each other.”

The buyers in the room echoed that sentiment. “Measurement to one client might be different to another, or categories may be different, but in the end we have to be measuring the same thing,” Lewis said. “Ultimately, for our clients, the thing we have to do right is get down to the measurement across all platforms [and programmers] that is equal and the same. From there, we can choose our options on which ones we want to negotiate or guarantee on.”

An ecosystem supported by multiple currencies will be a welcome relief to sellers and buyers alike–and to their clients. As Campanelli explained, the currency monopoly has been costly, and those costs have been passed onto advertiser clients. “Competition will help innovation, and it will help bring down costs,” he said. Competition not only drives costs down, but helps ultimately drive better measurement.

To achieve this multi-currency future, scale is key–advertisers are running campaigns that are cross-publisher, so they need measurement currencies that are available on every screen and programmer where their campaign is running. Halley reiterated, “there’s no such thing as ‘competitive advantage’ in currency… It has to work across [all of us].”

[Our] objective after certification is for each of the programmers to contribute first-party data that gets harmonized and becomes the baseline for measurement of the future. - Krishan Bhatia

Streaming data is the harbinger that will make a true cross-platform ecosystem a reality.    That’s why, in addition to common standards for measurement, the JIC programmers plan to bring together their collective first-party data to create a unified, harmonized streaming dataset.

“We had 80 million viewers on Peacock in the month of December,” Bhatia explained. He acknowledged that Paramount likely has a similar viewership dataset, as does TelevisaUnivision, and every other programmer. “Imagine the scale the programmers can bring to bear with first party data that no third-party measurement company has ever had access to in the past.”

A dataset of that magnitude, available to advertisers for use in targeting cross-platform campaigns, would be a gamechanger. “We are collectively in possession of a census dataset,” stated Halley.

In the first half of 2023 alone, the JIC plans to establish standards for new currencies for use in Upfront transactions for the 2024 Broadcast Year, and build a collective streaming viewership dataset that would rival any third-party dataset available on the market today. The power of collaboration is on full display, and advertisers will reap the benefits.

You can never do anything great in this industry alone. You have to be able to partner and you have to be able to work with your competitors. - David Levy

Underpinning every ambition, every action, every attitude expressed by the JIC members who comprised the panel at One23 was this: collaboration. 

The Joint Industry Committee is a radical example of collaboration in an advertising industry that is increasingly known for its walled gardens. Case in point: last week’s JIC panel at NBCUniversal’s own One23 event featured speakers from two other competing programmers. 

As Bhatia pointed out, the panel did not even include the three other holding companies and two other programmers that currently comprise the JIC, due to scheduling constraints. “David and team are actively talking to all programmers out there and I think that within short order we’ll be many more who are joining,” he said.

“We’re publishing our integration blueprints for the rest of the publisher community to see,” Halley stated. “It’s that lifeblood of information that’s going to create success in this endeavor.”

Notably, the panel did include members of the buyside community who are taking their seat at the JIC table. “There’s no way we can have [this] conversation without the agencies on board,” Levy said of the work the JIC is collectively embarking on ahead of the 2024 Upfronts. 

The key to building consensus across the aisle, beyond collaboration, will be compromise. “We all need to come together and compromise” on a core set of standards to be able to move forward and transact, Levy expressed.

The JIC’s Measurement Certification Council plans to present its initial standards for new measurement currencies on March 1st. In April, the JIC will gather industry stakeholders in New York to unveil more, including a first look at the streaming viewership dataset. 

Questions? Reach out to jic@openap.tv.