A+E Networks Will Guarantee Commercials Spark Business Results

By Brian Steinberg

Count A+E Networks among the TV companies that will offer advertisers something other than the usual audience measures in exchange for purchases of TV ad time.

The owner of the A&E, Lifetime and History cable networks plans to guarantee a select group of “outcome-based guarantees” to advertisers as part of negotiations in this year’s annual “upfront” market, when U.S TV network try to sell the bulk of their advertising inventory.

“We will do less than ten of these,” says Peter Olsen, executive vice president of ad sales for A+E Networks, in an interview. “The two specific business metrics we feel most comfortable with are website visits and foot traffic in retail locations. These are probably the easiest things for our partners to dissect and prove, and we feel confident we will be able to deliver on them.”

As technology allows media companies and marketers to track consumer patterns more closely, several TV outlets have started to guarantee business results in addition to the usual Nielsen audience measures, NBCUniversal recently unveiled an effort to guarantee that ads run on its media platforms result in tangible business results. Time Warner’s Turner has offered to back its ad deals with such guarantees for several years.

A+E Networks said it would offer “attribution” measures,  or monitor how ads spurred consumer reactions; audience targeting, or data that allow marketer to place commercials in front of the consumers most likely to be receptive to the message; and an insights unit that would offer deeper research on audience interests.

A+E has for months been involved with a project among several large TV companies to utilize efforts by the measurement concern Data + Math to add a standardized “attribution” measure to TV viewing. The company is also working with Nielsen Catalina, Millward Brown, Axciom and iSpot.

At a time when marketers make use of so much data from digital media, Olsen said, “we are trying to make sure television and premium video get their due.”

He said he expects more ad deals to utilize such standards. “You are getting deals with marketers where X percent of the negotiation is rooted in ‘Here are my GRPs and ratings points,’ and now you are layering these things in on top.”