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Advanced Ad 2016: Marketers Want Reliable Measurement

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New York -- “I think that 2017 is going to be the year of first-party measurement,” Joan FitzGerald, vice president of product management and business development at TiVo, said during an audience-measurement panel Wednesday (Oct. 19) at the Advanced Advertising conference, commenting that that might be a controversial statement.

It might have been in the sense that the biggest player in third-party TV viewing measurement, Nielsen, was represented on the panel in the form of Andrew Feigenson, managing director, digital. But on the same panel Randy Cooke, VP of programmatic at SpotX, had declared he believed “the future of ad decisioning resides in first-party data.” Cooke, though, also endorsed the importance of a “trusted industry support standard” to evaluate whether or not an ad buy you just made was priced correctly.

FitzGerald’s point was that advertisers have been building their own databases – including visitors to their own websites – and attaching it to third-party data sources from the likes of Nielsen or set-top data from Comscore (which acquired Rentrak) instead of relying more heavily on what comes from third parties. “This experimentation is going to become more mainstream” going forward, she said.

The panel, part of NYC Television and Video Week, also featured Colleen Fahey Rush, executive VP and chief research officer at Viacom, who said the "trust and transparency" role of third-party measurement in TV was underscored by recent news of video views exaggerated by “people grading their own homework.” She wouldn’t name the company when asked to elaborate by moderator Dade Hayes, the editor of Broadcasting & Cable, but the allusion seemed to be about Facebook’s admission that it had accidentally overstated the number of viewers for videos on the site (a situation Facebook said had been fixed and did not result in overbilling to clients).

Rush went on to say the Viacom Vantage data-driven ad product, announced in 2015, had been resonating with ad buyers and growing. Viacom Vantage, she said, “is really all about harnessing all kinds of different kinds of data sets so that we can really work with the advertiser and agency to define the segment together and deliver impressions and reach and their guaranteed target.”

Feigenson agreed that first-party data use was on the rise but used, as an example, Travelocity. That online travel provider has a huge amount of data from its own transactions, but that doesn’t represent the entire travel industry.

Movie studios, he also said, used to have relatively easy choices to make when they wanted to promote an upcoming theatrical release: buy mass audience reach using gross ratings points. Audiences are more fragmented now, though, and buying network TV won’t reach the millions of viewers tuned to Netflix or other streaming sources. “There are so many options right now that I think for a marketer it’s absolutely baffling,” he said.

“The baseline has to be reach and frequency to start with,” Feigenson, and then layer on other more targeted approaches. Nielsen, of course, is hard at work on generating "Total Audience Measurement" that will include online viewing sources.

Feigenson related a story about a recent meeting with customers in an advisory board and how one of the people at the session needed some extra time to absorb the new data features coming out and remarked, essentially, that what Nielsen was doing was awesome but it was moving too fast.

Hearing "Nielsen and too fast in the same sentence," Feigenson said, was memorable.

A Comscore executive had been scheduled to appear on the panel but was unable to attend, leaving Feigenson as the sole representative of third-party measurement firms on the panel.