Isba to raise £52m for Origin ahead of launch as separate company

Isba to raise £52m for Origin ahead of launch as separate company
George at The Future of TV Advertising Global 2023

Origin, the cross-media measurement solution managed by trade body Isba, will have received £52m in funding by the end of this year.

The figure is over five times the amount disclosed by Isba in its annual accounts filed for the previous financial year and will fund a new Origin organisation that is being created separate to the advertiser trade body. 

Last year, Isba created a levy on its membership as an additional source of funding for Origin.

In its 2022/23 accounts, Isba declared that “over £10m was disclosed under other income in relation to funding raised from stakeholders of Origin… This funding enabled the successful building of a household panel during the year”.

Amount shows ‘commitment’ from advertisers

Isba plans to transfer the operations of Origin into a separate legal entity, Origin Media Measurement Limited, which the organisation said would lead to a “significant reduction” in its income. 

The £52m raised for Origin dwarfs the annual membership subscription income for Origin, at £3.39m, as declared by Isba in its 2022/23 accounts (£152,000 higher than the previous year). Isba gained 11 new members and lost 10 over that period. 

An Isba spokesperson confirmed that the £52m raised for Origin is the amount that will have been received in funding by end of 2024. 

“Its an incredible example of the commitment that the industry and advertisers have for Origin,” the spokesperson added. 

High-stakes future of media measurement

Origin, launched in 2019, is an initiative to create a single measurement method to enable the planning and evaluation of cross-media campaigns.

Marketers have demanded a standardised approach, particularly across digital platforms and between digital platforms and broadcaster TV.

Privately, however, stakeholders have disagreed on how it should be funded. From the outset, major UK broadcasters have not funded Origin because, it is argued, they already have an industry-standard measurement solution in Barb.

Instead, Sky, ITV and Channel 4 have developed cross-video measurement platform C-Flight (now managed by Barb, the UK’s 40-year-old TV measurement company co-funded by the broadcasters).

During an Isba consultation phase for the advertiser levy, an unnamed broadcaster described the Origin levy as a “tax on TV”. Sky was the only broadcaster contacted by The Media Leader at the time that would publicly distance itself from that comment.

However, speaking at The Media Leader‘s Future of TV Advertising Global conference in 2022, Tom George, CEO of Origin, said an ad levy of 0.1% could raise 30-40% of the cost of Origin on an ongoing basis and that, on aggregate, the buy side would deliver 60% of revenues.

George added that platforms and publishers that are being measured will be expected to contribute to its costs, but that there will be no charge for media owners whose data is provided via the audited measurement of a JIC.

ISBA increases members’ fees to fund Origin

Media agency veteran Brian Jacobs, writing for this publication in response, defended the levy.

He said: “Advertisers should be at the forefront of audience measurement; it is, after all, the means that determines how their money is spent.

“Origin should involve all major media vendors. To choose to be excluded means you miss the opportunity to shape how your medium should be planned.”

Editor’s note (4 March, 12.50pm): An original version of this article stated that £52m had been raised “by UK advertisers”. This is not precisely accurate and has been removed to reflect that this sum has been raised from across the industry. 

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