CIMM Still Facing Challenges From MSOs

The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) is pushing ahead with set-top-box and cross-platform measurement initiatives, but is still having little luck getting cable operators to jump on board. But Jane Clarke, who took over as managing director in September, says that despite a lack of public announcements of late, there is plenty of progress. She updated B&C Business Editor Claire Atkinson on the latest. An edited version of that conversation follows.

What’s new at CIMM? Are you making progress on your goals?

It’s been a while since our last announcement, but there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes. Our [new] membership is really blazing; we’ve got PepsiCo, Gannett, Microsoft, Belo, ConAgra and Hearst, and we have a couple of others in the process. Our initiatives on the set-top-box and cross-platform fronts have moved ahead.

Tell us about each of those initiatives. What happened since your meeting with the industry?

The first step was to have an RFI [request for information] on the site, and we brought in several companies to answer questions. They were Nielsen, TiVo, TRA, Rentrak and Kantar Media. What we did after we met with the set-top-box vendors in November is to get everything out on the table so you can see the issues. We could see that no one is talking the same language, so we’ve been developing a lexicon of terms.

So, what is happening now that you’ve seen the set-top-box companies and completed the RFI process?
Once we release the lexicon in [mid-May], we [will start] talking about potential pilot projects. What we’d like to do is, hopefully, get some more set-top-box data into the market and be able to look at key metrics from the lexicon using a wider array of set-top-box data.

Who’s actually making set-top-box data available?

It is only being released by Charter Communications and some smaller MSOs.

Given that the set-top-box data is so important, why aren’t more MSOs involved? What is the delay in their sharing of such data with the industry?

They have a number of technical and business issues they’re sorting out, a lot of different configurations but they’re doing a lot very rapidly. In answer to why they’re not members, CIMM was established with TV-based companies and media agencies and large advertisers; it isn’t that appropriate for research vendors or data owners to join, but clearly we want to work with them.

What role is Canoe playing in facilitating that exchange?
Canoe Ventures has a lot of work to do, and they’re doing it quietly and it’s getting done. They’ll be ready to announce it when they’re finished. I think they’re very committed, and they just need to do some hard work to get it ready.

Tell us about the cross-platform part of what you’re doing.
We brought in IMMI, Nielsen, Arbitron, Media Behavior Institute, Sequent Partners, ComScore, TiVo/Quantcast, Knowledge Networks and Rentrak.

So, what’s next in cross-platform measurement now that you’ve met those groups?
We reached out to the World Federation of Advertising and ESOMAR [World Association of Opinion and Marketing Research Professionals]; they’ve done some surveys to see which countries are making the most progress on holistic measurement. The best example was from the U.K. called TouchPoints, developed by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

Tell us more about the lexicon of terms you’ve been building. There were definitions such as “latency” and “dwell time” that needed standardizing.
We’ve worked with more than 30 companies and industry groups, and everybody wanted to add in terms they’re developing.

What did you like about it?
The system enables us to use all existing currencies for TV, print and online, and then be able to tie in to a common integrated planning database that links all the currencies and makes it simple. It enables you to look at a TV rating and print impression on the same person, or they can create a database that makes it look like they’re the same. We’ve hired an independent consultant to talk to users of the [TouchPoints] service, and most of the agencies and media companies are being surveyed as to how it’s working for them and whether it would work here.

Tell us about mobile, the “third screen” that is part of your cross-platform initiative and growing incredibly fast. What is happening there?
On mobile, it’s “move as fast as you can.” It’s very important for CIMM.

What is happening on the local measurement front?
Some of our members were local companies; they are particularly interested in the set-top-box data and cross-platform measurement. They are still very in line with the rest of the members, but they want more granularity and the bigger sample sizes you get with [set-top-box measurement].

Are you investing in any projects or companies?
I don’t know that we’ll invest in anything; more co-funding and accelerated development with some research companies that can’t launch without funding from an industry group.

Tell us more about your role. What is the day-today of your job? How often are you meeting?
We’re very efficient; we’re renting space on 23rd Street [in New York]. We have meetings at the member companies and we generally have a big meeting once a month, and we have working committees for each of the initiatives.

What has surprised you most about everything you’ve found out from the group so far?
I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the members have been very cohesive in terms of what improvements they want to see. We have a lot of healthy discussions, but they all share common goals.