Advanced Ads: Agencies Can't Wait for Multiplatform Measurement

Zenith's Nitti Says Consumers Are Ahead of Industry’s Ability to Monitor

New York — Consumers are already well down the road of watching video content on a range of connected devices -- and ad agencies have not had the luxury of waiting until single-source measures spanning TV, the Web and mobile are broadly available, said John Nitti, president of activation for media buyer Zenith.

Nitti, speaking at the Multichannel News/B&C Advanced Advertising conference Wednesday, said his team has been forced to put together a “patchwork” of data to be able to analyze consumption on various platforms: “We’re working with a lot of partners to get a better quilt made.”

“The consumer has less affinity to the consumption point and more affinity to the content,” Nitti said. “Nielsen is the currency most used, so if they get there first that’s good for the industry… but I’m also for pushing for other measurement platforms.”

He was interviewed by Broadcasting & Cable business editor Jon Lafayette, who asked whether Nitti was skeptical about how quickly Nielsen could implement cross-platform measurement.

“I wouldn’t say they’re working with the urgency that all the agencies would like, but they’re trying,” Nitti responded.

Regarding Nielsen’s plan to expand the definition of a TV household to include broadband-connected TV devices like gaming consoles, Nitti said, “While I’m happy with Nielsen’s announcement, it’s only part of the way there.”

For agencies and their clients, the most important aspect of buying video advertising for one price across multiple platforms is to have consistency across all different screens -- so that, say, “women 25-54” means the same thing on every platform, Nitti said. He noted that Zenith restructured about a year ago to have a combined “national video” group of about 100 people, rather than a separate national broadcast team just for TV and another for digital video.

It doesn’t matter how TV networks have their sales teams set up, he added, “as long as they come back and work with us on all screens.”

“The worst thing is when one person is calling me from one part of the organization about something and then the next day someone from the same company walks in and is talking about something totally different,” Nitti added.

Increasingly, what’s important for advertisers are key performance indicators that aren’t number of impressions, he said. For example, for a car brand, what may be the most important metric is how many test-drives a campaign yields.

“Over time it becomes less important where the impression was sourced from,” Nitti said.