ViacomCBS to test VideoAmp as a currency

Credit: Unsplash
Credit: Unsplash

The measurement partnership kicks off as the TV marketplace opens up to transacting against providers beyond Nielsen.

VideoAmp is making inroads on the network side as a potential currency alternative for the $70 billion-plus TV marketplace. 

ViacomCBS said Tuesday it has entered into a measurement partnership with VideoAmp, in which it will use the TV data platform as an alternative currency to plan, buy and measure national, cross-platform campaigns.   

The partnership, which will kick off in October, will have ViacomCBS testing VideoAmp’s ability to accurately measure and guarantee advertiser transactions across digital and linear media. VideoAmp is integrated with ViacomCBS’ advanced TV platform, Vantage, so buyers can easily upload custom segments from VideoAmp and activate campaigns across its properties. 

While it’s not yet clear how much of ViacomCBS’ inventory will be sold against VideoAmp guarantees during this year’s upfront, the marketplaces appetite for change and VideoAmp’s entrenched relationships on the buy side means it could be a material amount, said John Halley, chief operating officer, advertising revenue at ViacomCBS. 

“It depends on how the marketplace reacts to this and how quickly it matures,” he said. “It will start small and gain steam. There are early pilots and learnings, and as we learn more, we will accelerate in terms of adoption.”

The partnership was announced just weeks after Campaign US broke news of a large-scale pilot test among most major holding companies to use VideoAmp as an alternative TV currency to Nielsen. The ViacomCBS partnership runs alongside that pilot, as a new measurement framework will require industry participation. 

“We think this is a real opportunity to create market transformation,” Halley said. 

The TV marketplace has been dissatisfied with Nielsen’s slow adaptation to digital and cross-platform viewing for decades. The search for an alternative currency has gained steam over the last few months, after Nielsen had its MRC accreditation put on hiatus after undercounting viewers during the pandemic. 

Like most players, ViacomCBS is anticipating a multi-currency marketplace, and will test other providers as they emerge alongside VideoAmp. The media giant also has a partnership with Comscore and still plans to use Nielsen to transact in next year’s upfront. 

Halley sees the linear TV marketplace evolving to look more like CTV, where buyers can transact against numerous data sets, from server logs, to Nielsen demos, to programmatic private marketplaces to data sets from providers like Experian and Polk. 

“As we start thinking about convergent activation, there's no question that there will be a lot of ways to measure and transact inventory,” he said.

ViacomCBS partnered with VideoAmp in large part due to its adoption on the buy side. “What's interesting is how many of those big holding companies have leaned in,” Halley said, adding that it's up to sellers to provide flexibility around how to transact against media. 

For VideoAmp, the partnership with ViacomCBS is the next step in a long journey to become a viable currency for the cross-platform video market. In addition to working with buyers, VideoAmp has been working with industry consortiums including the Video Advertising Bureau, the Association of National Advertisers and Open AP to build standards around a new currency framework. NBCU is also said to be testing VideoAmp as part of its RFP for new measurement partners. 

“Currency has to be an ecosystem thing,” said Ross McCray, Co-founder and CEO at VideoAmp.

VideoAmp is also preparing for a multi-currency world. While McCray expects there to be other providers in the mix, including Nielsen and Comscore, “there will be a small handful of companies like ourselves who I believe will make it through the gauntlet to create a competitive set of currencies,” he said. 

As for Nielsen, the industry is waiting to see how Nielsen One, its long-awaited cross-platform currency framework, operates when it’s released in 2024. 

But some have their doubts. 

“How does a monopoly provider of legacy measurement products compete in a business that is becoming more innovative?” Halley said. “Nielsen is not going to be the only one. They will be one of several, and their product will have to compete against fast-moving and nimble companies.”


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