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Q&A on Next Gen Measurement with Nexstar’s Hanna Gryncwajg

by | Oct 2, 2023 | BIA, Blog, CTV/OTT

Nexstar Media Group recently released a Request for Proposals seeking, “a next-generation audience measurement partner capable of providing data that accurately reflects the scale and power of the company’s national and local media businesses.” This is a critical time for the media industry to develop forward-looking measurement solutions to better serve audiences, advertisers, media, and the collaborative partnerships that comprise the local media industry.

Hanna Gryncwajg, Vice President of Measurement Innovation, Nexstar Media Group, has been tapped to lead this initiative for Nexstar. BIA’s managing director, Rick Ducey, sat down with Hanna to dig a bit deeper into what’s behind the scenes of this RFP.

RD: The RFP represents a significant effort to address several core goals in both local and national media measurement. You’ve identified your core goals in the RFP as addressing industry challenges related to: 1) granular, cross-platform linear and digital media audiences that reflect an increasingly complex and fragmented media landscape; 2) the impact of advertising extending beyond reach to encompass a variety of outcome metrics; 3) attribution of audience, contextual, creative and placement components to enable real time optimization and improved future planning. Could you elaborate on Nexstar’s priorities and expectations for what could realistically be achieved in these areas, both in the short and long terms?

HG: A key reason we feel a responsibility to facilitate a Next-Gen measurement for both local and national media is our unique position in the marketplace as a true omnichannel media company and the largest local broadcaster with 200 owned and partner operated stations.

We understand that our viewers don’t think about “national” vs “local” or “linear” vs digital”.  They are focused on engaging with the content and experiences they want, wherever, whenever, and however they want.   Our communities should be accessible to brands in an equally fluid way. Bringing the full breadth of our content and distribution power to make meaningful connections between the communities we serve and the brands that want to reach them will enable us to achieve this goal.

While there has been a good amount of traction to bringing our national assets together to transact in the national marketplace, our ability to combine these assets with 116 local markets is critical. From a measurement perspective, we need solutions that reflect the full reach of our local, national and digital assets. The integration of local and modernization of holistic measurement is important to serving our advertisers and shareholders. And measurement goes beyond counting audiences – it must address the outcomes that matter most to our advertisers.

The future of measurement needs to be capable of bringing holistic understanding and data driven decision-making to a more fragmented, personalized and performance-based paradigm—and this RFP does that. We are not just expecting the 20+ companies who are participating in the RFP to bring great solutions, we are actively using our market strength to accelerate change for the industry.

RD: Nexstar noted in its RFP press release that is has been, “actively engaging with new measurement partners, working earlier this year with VideoAmp and iSpot to deliver linear and streaming audience data generated across its media platforms.” These are the same firms that bubbled to the top of NBCU’s recent initiative summarized in its Measurement Framework 4.0 (updated to v4.2) that is a companion piece to its Look Book v1. How has the NBCU helped set your expectations and informed your RFP’s goals?

HG: NBCU has certainly been an excellent role model, not only for Nexstar but for the entire industry, motivating action by both sellers and buyers. Nexstar’s goal is to continue that work, with the additional focus of accelerating local cross-platform measurement to enable the seamless planning and buying of premium content.

RD: Who will be the recipients of Nexstar’s RFP, and what areas of advertising/ad tech/ measurement do they specialize in?

HG: We did not limit participation to select companies, and instead invited anyone across the industry to participate via an open press release. We are looking for a next-gen measurement solution, which will require the best thinking and solutions from a broad array of measurement providers within our ecosystem. The new paradigm of measurement innovation is collaboration – between publishers, agencies, and best in class data/technology companies. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and we all have a role to play in re-imagining the future.

RD: Nexstar has both national and local media platforms, each likely having different needs and solutions, or at least that’s how the industry has evolved to date. Could you speak to the importance of local measurement for Nexstar and how it is addressed in the RFP? And are there differences in that national versus local measurement solutions that make sense, or should we be driving toward a unified solution?

HG: The short answer is that we should be and are driving towards a unified solution.  At the start of the year, Nexstar unified its sales teams to do just that.  We have already done a lot of work to unify the fashion in which our National teams go to market, including the use of new currencies.  This is gaining fantastic traction. 

On the local side, work is underway to redefine how we bring all of our assets together in service of brands and consumers. This is part of the reason for the measurement RFP – to accelerate the importance of local measurement, including our expanding digital footprint.

RD: What innovations in audience measurement come to mind for you that might help us frame the significance of what Nexstar is undertaking. I’m thinking of things like moving from diaries to meters, samples to census, ad exposure to attribution, using AI to enhance content recognition and data analytics etc.? We’re still in the early stages of AI in the media industry.

HG: The dramatic change in media distribution and consumption has ushered in the need for a complete re-thinking of media measurement. We have the opportunity to innovate in literally every area. There must be new methodologies and ways to integrate data from a variety of sources. Having accurate, real-time metrics at the most granular level – for every type of content, ad format and consumption method. The ability to use measurement – not just of audiences but real outcomes – in real time to make better decisions is an enormous area of opportunity.

AI should play a role in this. We need to leverage technology and data to not just understand what has happened in the past – which has been a huge challenge with current measurement – but to provide prescriptive direction for more effective advertising and content decision-making.  Using data and technology to be more accurate, faster, and more effective is where we need to be. As an industry, it is vital that we are able to monetize our investments in content, while delivering great value to consumers and brands.  Innovations in measurement will help us do that. It is critical that all distribution – including local – have the ability to compete effectively for ad spend. This starts with counting every impression accurately – now.  So, yes, we want the entire cake as quickly as possible.

RD: I’m wondering if we could skip ahead to see what the end of this story looks like. Let’s say Nexstar goes through this process and both updates and extends more deeply specifically into local audience measurement to identify and encourage the kinds of technology, economic, and perhaps business models innovations. Ultimately it comes down to our colleagues and our culture in the local media industry to accept change in behavior, attitudes, expectations, tools, workflow, etc. Do you have any concerns about how fast or thoroughly the local media industry might adopt the solutions your RFP process brings to light?

HG: When we say “it takes a village,” it truly does.  We are asking right from the start that our partners collaborate not only with each other, but with the buy side so we achieve adoption of the measurement tools that provide accurate measurement.  We also need support from industry trade organizations to help raise awareness, open minds, and educate.  We’ve already begun having discussions with organizations and partners keen to address the needs of local buyers and marketers. You will see this effort grow as we move into the 4th quarter and 2024.