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The Alternative Currency Race Heats Up with JIC Certification



The race to adopt currencies to complement—or replace – industry leader Nielsen just passed a critical milestone on September 20. The Joint Industry Committee (JIC) granted “conditional certification” to three of the leading challengers to Nielsen: ComScore, iSpot and VideoAmp. The JIC was formed in January of 2023 “as a collaborative forum for both media buyers and video suppliers to work together to define a more sustainable model for long-form video measurement.” The committee’s goal is to create common standards for cross-platform video measurement and to encourage greater competition of measurement solutions.

While last month’s announcement only granted “conditional certification” to the measurement services, it is a monumental first step towards becoming a fully certified contender to Nielsen. The JIC first began testing several alternative currencies over the summer, with an even number of both buyers and sellers evaluating six companies on a rubric that looked at their use of big data, level of transparency, integrations with clean room and transactability. Three of the evaluated companies did not receive conditional certification: SambaTV, Innovid, and 605. (Note: 605 was recently acquired by iSpot, who will be integrating 605’s data sources with their own to create an even more robust offering.) SambaTV and Innovid contend that currency certification was never their primary business goal.

“Innovid is not pursuing a currency strategy and, as such, did not expect to be selected as part of this process,” said Innovid Chief Commercial Officer Dave Helmreich in a statement. “We are currently in conversations with the JIC about a possible non-currency related partnership.”

“Samba is not seeking certification as a linear TV currency, but [rather] as the provider of representative TV [and CTV] data to future-certified audience currency providers, in addition to being a provider of outcomes-based measurement solutions,” the company said in a statement.

The JIC will be launching a separate certification evaluation for measurement providers in 2024. Measurement is a lower bar than currency, since it does not require the agreement of both buyers and sellers to transact on the data, and it can include a variety of new datasets like outcomes or attention. The committee will likely focus their initial measurement certification on outcomes-based solutions, since that is a high priority for the industry, especially those of us who work in performance marketing.

One company that is noticeably absent from the JIC certification process is Nielsen themselves. The committee did send their request for information to Nielsen, but the company chose not to participate. Nielsen will continue to rely on their accreditation from the Media Rating Council (MRC) and Nielsen’s long-standing position as the only game in town. The JIC was formed because of complaints that the MRC accreditation process was too slow and complex that it made it impossible for alternative currencies to gain accreditation and perpetrated Nielsen’s monopoly position.

So, what does this mean for advertisers? In the short-term, not much. The JIC has launched the second phase of their evaluation of ComScore, iSpot and VideoAmp and expects to announce which—if any—of these services will be fully certified sometime in early 2024. Full certification will earn those companies access to first-party data from some of the biggest names in media such as Paramount, Warner Bros. Discovery and NBCUniversal.

Making the leap from measurement to currency requires more than certification from the JIC or accreditation from the MRC. It will require buyers and sellers of media to agree to transact deals on these new currencies. So far, that has been slow to come, but it is happening. Paramount announced this week that it is now open to transacting on iSpot data, adding them to the list that already included ComScore and VideoAmp. Paramount isn’t the only one. Fox, NBCU, WBDiscovery, A+E, and other major media companies have also approved at least one of the three JIC-certified services as currencies they are open to negotiate on.

At Rain the Growth Agency, we continue to work with multiple partners in both the media currency and measurement space. We remain a Nielsen subscriber and utilize them as a primary benchmark for audience measurement, especially for linear television. But as a performance marketing agency, we understand that what really matters to our client partners is delivering business outcomes. We have been on the cutting edge of using and evaluating outcome-based measurement services and continue to work with our media partners towards a future where media buys are negotiated solely on results, not audience size.

We still have a way to go to achieve that goal, but the JIC certification was a big step in the right direction.

This article is featured in Media Impact Report No. 49. View the full report here.

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