The headlines continue to permeate the media landscape on virtually a daily basis: Nielsen Seven Month Glitch … NBC Wants a Do-over … Nielsen Says Rentrak Doesn’t Let Facts Get in the Way … Rentrak Fires Back … Hodor! Hodor!

As we all know, words are wind, but sometimes that wind can be very biting. “…We're still doing TV ratings on something more analogous to political polling," says Time Magazine columnist James Poniewozik in a recent Public Radio International interview. Hard truths cut both ways though as the media industry continues to support and rely upon a seemingly flawed system.

Nielsen might possibly retort “you know nothing” to such a comment , but as the media and market research industries begin to embrace big data as never before, the entire television ecosystem hinges on approximately twenty-five thousand Nielsen People Meter households whose data generate the incumbent TV currency. The U.S. Census currently places the U.S. household population at over 115 million, which equates to one people meter for every 4,600 U.S. households. A set-top box (STB) sample of 1.5 million households equals a 1:77 STB to U.S. household ratio.

If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention. Nielsen has many network and agency deals locked up for years to come, so what will it take to lessen Nielsen’s dominion over the industry? It will take a sword in the darkness, with the audacity to take a stand against the status quo. It will take more like Zenith Media, which is testing the Rentrak monitoring system in a few local markets.

When you play the game of ratings, you win or you stagnate. You do a disservice to your client, network, advertiser, agency, rep firm and interconnect if you don’t play to win. Winter is coming, and that would be an ideal time to start investigating what supplemental resources are out there. You should no longer rely on a single provider’s data to determine your program’s worth. Just as executing a perfect recipe is crafted from different ingredients, the value of a network/daypart/program should be based on an amalgam of factors coalescing to create an ideal schedule.

We at TiVo Research and Analytics are developing some very innovative measurement solutions that we would like to share with you:

  • Moving our current system to a cloud-based architecture will allow us to grow our STB data footprint to over three million households.
  • Data feeds of summarized/aggregated data
  • API-based access to Media TRAnalytics data
  • Cross-media analyses, including Digital + TV reach, frequency and sales lift

In addition, we currently match our STB sample to:

  • Lifestyle segments
  • Automotive ownership data from all 50 states
  • CPG purchase data via grocery loyalty cards from multiple sources
  • Aggregated credit card purchase data
  • Pharmaceutical prescription data (separate interface)

Look, the night is dark and full of errors, but there are options out there. Be smart about it and become familiar with the different data resources available today. No one’s reign lasts forever. (Spoiler alert!) Just ask Robert or Joffrey Baratheon.

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