ABC Officially Launches Data Initiative for the 2015-2016 Season

This past upfront saw a flurry of data initiative announcements from a range of broadcast and cable networks because, as Michael Dean, ABC VP of Data-Driven Sales, explained, “Data is increasingly a key tool that provides value to marketers.” These initiatives seemed to serve their purposes for the upfront by distinguishing networks’ content as well as moving data into the center of the sales conversation. Yet, from an industry perspective, these initiatives are fairly silo’ed by company, primed to showcase a specific network’s or family of networks’ audience for targeting, performance or sales.

Currently there is no pan-industry solution but it is possible that one of these services could eventually be rolled out in a more universal manner. With that in mind, I seek to highlight individual company initiatives in a series of articles throughout the new season. We start with ABC which just released the first of three data offerings this week.

According to Adam Gerber, VP, Sales Development & Marketing, ABC Television, this first initiative is called “ABC Unified Insights. It offers cross-platform total audience viewing data for ABC prime programs by combining data from Nielsen, Rentrak, comScore and internal digital platforms. Accessible via, it offers a web-based dashboard and will be updated monthly starting in November with Fall 2015 Season data (it currently provides a full recap of the 2014/2015 season). Reporting provides total program viewership by genre and demo, viewability and fraud rates, purchase affinity relative to competitive networks and on-demand viewing insights. All linear, time shifted DVR and VOD, online browser and app, along with OTT viewing is included. Currently, data is provided for ABC Prime – initially solely Total Prime and key programming genres (Comedy, Drama & Alternative) but will eventually report at the ABC program level across all dayparts.”

ABC’s total audience methodology has been carefully modeled by Lisa Heimann, VP, ABC/ ABC Studios Multiplatform Research, and has been presented across a wide range of industry research organizations. The resulting rating has the potential for a cross-platform measurability metric that could be rolled out industry-wide. She explains, “ABC's Multiplatform+35 Day Ratings bring together Linear TV, DVR, VOD, and online streaming viewership into a single metric that’s easy to understand and represents viewing comparably across platforms. Using minutes viewed, content durations, and demo comps across platforms, Multiplatform ratings use the same principles as Nielsen average minute ratings, but extended across screens and time (out to 35 days in order to align with the industry-standard trailing 5 posting window).”
According to Gerber, “The data re-affirms the power of premium content.  Total audience ratings for ABC Primetime, with on-demand viewing included, almost doubles versus Live/Same-Day numbers.  Behavior by demo varies – as would be expected – with younger segments watching substantially more on-demand.  Connected TV viewing rose sharply, from about 40% of web/app-based ABC A18-49 Primetime viewing at the beginning of the 14/15 season to almost 55% by the end. And, ABC continues to deliver high value audiences – it scores best across most Nielsen Buyer Index categories, has high digital view-ability rates and almost non-existent fraud as measured by MOAT.”

There are also two other offerings, currently in development, according to Gerber, the first one is “a Linear Video initiative that matches panel and/or census viewership data from Nielsen and Rentrak with client or 3rd party data sources, facilitating optimization of schedules beyond Nielsen age/sex demos. The tool is currently in beta and will be launching with ABC Primetime inventory only. It is expected to expand across all ABC dayparts during the 15/16 broadcast year. The system has the ability to integrate advertiser proprietary data via privacy compliant data partners/brokers and syndicated data sources such as NBI, Polk, Epsilon, Experian, and Shopcom. ABC will guarantee against traditional Nielsen age/sex demo, with measurement and periodic optimization against a secondary data-driven strategic target.”

Additionally, ABC is participating in a digital video initiative deployed at the corporate level. Gerber continues, “The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) is working on a single cross-business DMP to centralize audience data and offer impression level targeting against client data, third party data, as well as some unique TWDC data. Promising availability at a portfolio level across addressable digital media, it is projected to offer impression level targeting across a portfolio of cross-platform digital media, including both short and long form video from Disney properties including ABC, ABC Family, ABC Owned TV Stations, Disney Media, Marvel and Maker Studios. Because it is digitally based, it is census level data working off an Oracle Bluekai DMP. It will activate against any licensed and natively available 3rd party data set and onboard other 3rd party data sets. Impression level delivery guaranteed against the advertisers target segment, on a reserved insertion order basis.”

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