There has been a great deal of press on each individual network's data innovation and when you gather all of the pronouncements together, it is a fairly impressive tidal wave of research that seems to be upending and guiding the media sales process. All in all, it is all very heady for those of us with years toiling in the back offices of research.

I attended the Turner Upfront where Speciale announced "We are in the Wild West of metrics" as she capped off her presentation with a Big Data video ... preceding all the glossy individual network programming videos and announcements that have always been an Upfront staple. Linda Yaccarino, NBCU Chairman, Advertising Sales and Client Partnerships, announced at her Upfront that "Data matters more now than ever" as part of an initiative where NBCU will use Comcast set top box data.

Turner and NBCU are not alone. There is a lot of noise in the industry as everyone shouts from their own rooftops. I decided that it would be beneficial to get as many of these announcements in one place, asking each company the same set of questions.

My take: These data approaches are creatively varied in their use of datasets and metrics. Some collect their datasets in a DMP or cloud while others partner with research vendors for their metrics and custom data. Surprisingly, only some initiatives specifically include set top box data which, along with Nielsen, may be one of the few datasets that can be used to standardize and compare results across networks. Is standardization in our future? It doesn't seem likely to me at this time.

Question 1: Does your company have a data initiative? If so what is it?

Paul Haddad (Senior Vice President and General Manager, Advanced Data Analytics, Cablevision Media Sales): Cablevision is leveraging aggregated, de-identified census-level audience tuning data to deliver unmatched audience relevancy, effectiveness and measurement and offering clients impressions-based campaigns that are purchased on a CPM basis vs. GRP. By applying the power of set-top box data to deliver data enriched media campaigns to advertisers and to deliver advanced analytics that provide unique insights we are allowing advertisers to better understand their audiences and power more effective and efficient media campaigns, ensuring the right messages target the right audience.

Katie Larkin (Executive Vice President, Advertising Sales Research and Strategy, NBCU): One of our data initiatives is our newly launched Audience Targeting Platform (ATP) which matches set top box data with consumer data and applies that combination to our national portfolio inventory on the broad NBCUniversal portfolio for more precise targeting and schedule optimization.

David Poltrack (Chief Research Officer, CBS Corporation and President of CBS VISION): Campaign Performance Audit is a data-driven initiative that helps clients test the effectiveness of their ads, maximize reach and "recency," and offers more precise targeting and favorable context.  The use of the analytical tools to implement these various components gives clients with a roadmap to planning and purchasing an effective television media buy while also providing a precise and actionable scorecard showing the measurable return on investment of the campaign.

Bill Rosolie (Senior Vice President, Advertising Sales, Reelz): Reelz is expanding beyond traditional Nielsen audience metrics with a quantifiable audience engagement measure. In conjunction with Magid's EmotionalDNATM Intentionality Index and Evaluation Scores, we have developed a proprietary engagement measure known as the Z-Score. This score combines the two measurements and can be used across [more than] 1,000 programs.

Jo Ann Ross (President, CBS Network Sales): In addition to the CPA initiative that we launched in March, CBS is in development of a TV layer to its existing DMP (Data Management Platform) for digital. The goal of this will ultimately be to provide data-enabled decision making across screens, especially for TV planning and buying, like we do today on digital. CBS will come to market with products that provide KPIs important to marketers like scale, consistency and proof of ROI. 

Howard Shimmel (Chief Research Officer, Turner Broadcasting): Building on what was introduced last year, we will continue to provide advertisers premium environments with targeting capabilities through our innovative ad products Targeting Now and Audience Now. Further, we will continue to align with marketers to better understand how our campaigns move product, utilizing ROI Now. Our ultimate goal is to provide stronger results for partners. And now with Turner Data Cloud, we are allowing our sales teams to open up the conversation to a more thoughtful scale. Research plays a crucial role in all this.

Audrey Steele (Senior Vice President, Sales Research and Marketing, Fox Broadcasting): Fox Networks has multiple 3rd party data integrations and our own proprietary data set integrated into our DMP (Data Management Platform) and technology platforms to help clients improve performance on their precision targets for the linear and non-linear audiences.  We have data and technology partnerships that can aid our clients in determining the mix of attributes that define the consumer targets that best deliver on their sales and marketing goals.

Geri Wang (President, Ad Sales, ABC): We have various data initiatives aimed at delivering 1) more relevant audience insights for planning purposes and 2) varying levels of actionable targeting across our digital and linear video inventory.  ABC Unified Insights, which will launch this fall on ABCAllAccess.com, will provide comprehensive, cross-platform audience and viewing data for ABC programming from aggregated Nielsen, Rentrak and internal digital platforms.  From a targeting perspective, we have launched two capabilities -- one for digital, and one for linear TV.  For digital media, The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) has deployed a single cross-business DMP to centralize our audience data and offer impression level targeting against client data, third party data, as well as some unique TWDC data.  This offering will be available at an aggregated portfolio level across addressable digital media from ABC, ESPN, ABC Family, ABC Owned TV Stations, Disney Channel Media, Makers Studio and Marvel.  For linear TV, ABC has built a set-top-box based data solution that matches viewership data with client or third party data sources, allowing us to plan and deliver TV schedules that better deliver against a client’s core objectives.

Tom Ziangas (Senior Vice President, Research and Insights, AMC Networks): AMC Networks has created a Business Intelligence group to ingest and manage over twenty data sources to best provide research and key business stakeholders data and reporting analytics that provide efficiency, speed and insights in the decision making process. We are also moving into a B2C (business to consumer) model and gaining detailed understanding on how our consumers are interacting with our various media platforms.

Beth Rockwood (Senior Vice President, Market Resources, Discovery Communications):  Discovery’s client focused research projects are managed through our Curiosity Lab.  We work with clients to provide insights, targeting and accountability on a highly customized basis.  Our new data partnerships will add significant capabilities to the Curiosity Lab, including both first and third party data.  

This the first article in a series. Thank you to all who participated.

In Part 2 I ask the questions: Is your company's data initiative gaining traction in the industry? How is it impacting your business?

The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.com management or associated bloggers.