ITV and Channel 4 unite with Sky on TV ad measurement tool CFlight

“This is a gigantic step forward,” organisers say.

Ad tool: buyers can discover overall advertising exposure is for their TV campaigns
Ad tool: buyers can discover overall advertising exposure is for their TV campaigns

ITV and Channel 4 have united with Sky on CFlight, a TV advertising measurement tool that will capture live, on-demand and time-shifted commercial impressions across all mainstream viewing platforms in the UK.

CFlight was pioneered as a post-campaign online evaluation tool by NBCUniversal, the sister US broadcaster of Comcast-owned Sky, and has already generated significant interest from UK advertisers and agencies.

The tool uses combined linear TV and broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD) data to show media buyers what the overall advertising exposure is for their TV campaigns, notably reach and frequency metrics. CFlight is scheduled to launch in the UK in autumn 2021.

Research consultancy RSMB has been commissioned to design the calculation methodology and media software specialists TechEdge will collate and process the data and make it available for online report requests.

The first phase of CFlight will combine linear TV advertising impacts, as measured by BARB, with census level BVOD delivered impressions provided by each sales house. This will give total reach and frequency exposure counts at the broad audience level of adults.

Regular upgrades are planned to add key demographic audiences as well as greater flexibility and functionality.

CFlight in the UK is founded upon BARB's linear TV impacts derived from its viewing panel, and BVOD impressions from broadcaster ad servers.

The data methodology and process will be audited by ABC, the industry body for media measurement auditing, to give media buyers the reassurance of independent and expert scrutiny of CFlight, and to give CFlight the benefit of ongoing advice and robust quality control.

The development and co-ordination of CFlight has been project managed by independent consultant Andrew McIntosh through Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK in which Channel 4, ITV and Sky are all shareholders.

At launch, the broadcasters covered by CFlight will include ITV, Channel 4, Sky, UKTV, STV, Channel 5, Discovery and Viacom.

CFlight will be made available at no cost to agencies that run BVOD advertising campaigns, via a dedicated site hosted by TechEdge.

Talking about the tool's significance for agencies, McIntosh told Campaign it will provide vital data to assist in deciding on media investment.

He continued: "This is a gigantic step forward because more viewers have really embraced on-demand viewing, they have a varied ecosystem of how they watch TV. Now we're bringing the tools to advertisers to actually measure that exposure to their target audiences.

"I think it's going to help advertisers because TV is such an effective medium, and now there will be the ability to measure advertising more effectively across video-on-demand content. It preserves the health of the medium, the effectiveness of the medium and provides proof of the medium's benefits."

NBCUniversal developed CFlight in the US in 2018 and it continues to underpin ongoing currency measurement across NBCUniversal's One Platform.

Sky, which was acquired at the end of 2018, adapted CFlight for the UK media marketplace to reflect its own portfolio, before working in conjunction with Channel 4 and ITV on the pan-broadcaster version.

Tim Pearson, managing director of Sky Media UK, Veriça Djurdjevic, Channel 4's chief revenue officer, and Kelly Williams, managing director, commercial, ITV, issued a joint statement that said: "CFlight's launch will be a pivotal moment for the TV ad industry, proving the power of TV advertising across linear and broadcaster VOD for the first time.

"The result of major collaboration, it will provide a pioneering, simple and much-needed new unified metric to demonstrate the significant, growing value of BVOD, and we're excited for its continued evolution."

Advertisers are “very supportive”

Enders Analysis said in a report in April that advertisers are “very supportive” of CFlight as such a cross-media measurement system “will likely reinforce TV’s effectiveness”.

It is important for advertisers to be able to assess the effectiveness of each element of a campaign in driving its business outcomes—from awareness to conversion—and how each medium works vis-a-vis others,” Enders said.

“To date, this goal has proved elusive, while BARB’s limitations in measuring BVOD are apparent. However, the launch of CFlight, which has the support of the three major sales houses, should enable advertisers to judge the effectiveness of BVOD as part of a TV campaign for the first time. 

“This could lead to greater demand for BVOD among existing TV advertisers, but also bring in new advertisers to TV/BVOD that may currently use YouTube or Facebook video and believe TV to be unaffordable.”

Enders added advertisers and agencies were particularly interested in “the ability to calculate a single AV price across linear and BVOD as they are now unified by a single currency despite Sky keeping prices unaligned” so far.

ISBA, which represents advertisers, is also working on Project Origin, a cross-measurement tool to “understand and plan campaigns across digital and broadcast platforms.