TiVo, Nielsen Adding New TV and Video Measurement Tools

By The Myers Report Archives
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Jack Myers Digital Video Report Sponsored by Teletrax

The options for learning viewer behavior are ballooning, spurred by client demand and digital technologies. Two leaders measuring TV on the tube, Nielsen and TiVo, are not only offering more measurement options than ever but also adding metrics that are changing the ratings game.

Next month, TiVo will have collected a year's worth of second-by-second measurements of real-time and time-shifted TV viewing on DVRs from its panel of 20,000 users. For the past three months the company has been releasing the data, and some trends are starting to emerge. In programming, not surprisingly, the top dramas or comedies on TiVo are generally the top shows on live TV, while news and sports tend to be watched in real time. That's why Dateline'sinterview with Princes Harry and William didn't make the top ten in time-shifted shows for June.

The trends for ads, though, hold some surprises. TiVo VP Audience Measurement Todd Juenger says most people would predict expensive ads full of celebrities would be the most-watched. They aren't. Instead, a couple of direct response ads have made the top ten in recent months. In June, an ad for furniture rental company CORT was the least fast-forwarded. Ads for AT&T were the only ones to make the top 10 in two separate months. Juenger surmises that the celeb-laden commercials may not do well in TiVo because they tend to be purchased for maximum reach across a broad rather than targeted audience, and targeting appears to be a key ingredient for TiVo viewers. To make a successful ad "make it relevant to an audience and add this magic thing called entertainment value," he told Jack Myers Media Business Report in an exclusive interview. "You can't reduce everything down to a formula that says, for example, 'If you put a dog in the first three seconds and the color green, and have music by the Rolling Stones it will not get fast forwarded," he added.

Nielsen since May has also been collecting data from the 17 percent of its panel of 10,000 households that have DVRs. "Until very recently there was no need to measure commercials separate from ordinary TV, because there was no DVR playback, and you would assume that the commercial rating was the same as the program rating," Nielsen spokesman Gary Holmes told Jack Myers Media Business Report. Nielsen takes minute-long slices and provides clients an average of program and commercial minutes that are most watched in real time, and in increments from hours to seven days later.  There hasn't been client demand for less than a minute" of measurement, Holmes said. Nielsen plans by the end of summer to start pairing its panel's information with data on TV consumed out of the home, for example in sports bars or hotels. In coming months, in concert with Integrated Media Measurement, Inc,. (IMMI) (Jack Myers Media Business Report, April 6, 2006), Nielsen will give 2,500 people specially equipped cell phones that can monitor media consumption. By year's end, Holmes says, Nielsen will start to see early results. And within a couple of years, expect to see iPods, Blackberrys and other devices added to the mix.

Imperfect but Improving Measures

While Nielsen's Holmes says customers don't want data for more than minute-long slices, TiVo has a corporate agreement with Interpublic through media agency MAGNA Global to produce second-by-second data and Publicis' Starcom is also analyzing second-by-second data for its clients. Second-by-second data is likely to become an increasingly relevant currency in a world when the minute-long commercial is increasingly rare and odd-length commercials are starting to spring up. Plus, in a digital world, clients demand granular, specific data, not just averages that include program ratings. TiVo data reported last week to several media agency executives shows significant differences between second-by-second commercial ratings appearing in specific programs and Nielsen minute-by-minute commercial average ratings for those same programs. Nielsen is looking ahead to 2011, when they think their "Anywhere Anytime Media Measurement" or A2M2, initiative, combining all forms of video consumption into a meaningful whole, will show comprehensive results. TNS is also analyzing second-by-second data from an estimated 300,000 Charter Communications' Los Angeles digital cable households, which the company is expecting to roll-out in competition to Nielsen.





Media buyers and sellers are not yet accepting TiVo data as currency because the TiVo home does not reflect a nationally representative TV household, tending to be more wealthy, more tech savvy and younger than the typical American audience. To better serve ads to that audience, TiVo has been developing technology that allows ad replacement with new ads for time-shifted video, something the Fox network has said it was working on with the company. TiVo will soon be recruiting people willing to provide demographic information as well as their viewing habits. By year-end TiVo hopes to start reporting that data matched to viewing stats. "Measurement is changing," notes Larry Thomas, COO of multimedia PR and marketing production company Medialink. "I won't say on a daily basis, but not far from it."

As IPTV, broadband over the television (another TiVo capability) and digital broadcast distribution gains market penetration, there will be a new spate of demands spurred by availability of more precise viewing data. TiVo's aggressive push into the data business appears to be spurring Nielsen and more media agencies can be expected to embrace TiVo's second-by-second data in the next several months. It appears inevitable that by the time next year's network Upfront market comes around, once again there will be new currency for the network sellers and buyers to debate and negotiate.

TiVo's Todd Juenger can be reached at tguenger@tivo.com.
Nielsen can be reached through Anne Elliot at anne.elliot@nielsen.com

This special report is sponsored by Teletrax, the leader in digital watermarking for video media tracking, measurement and intelligence. For more information, contact: Peter Winkler at pwinkler@teletrax.tv or SVP Sales Stephen O'Neill at Sales@teletrax.tv. The editorial content has been prepared by Myers Publishing with no involvement or approval of underwriters.


Dorian Benkoil, a regular contributor toJack Myers Media Business Reportis a senior consultant for Teeming Media, a digital media business consultancy. He can be reached at Dorian@JackMyers.com.
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