"Time is expanding and the consumer is willing to expand time. Why are they willing to do that is the big question," he said, referring to the consumer's ability to use a mobile device or tablet while doing other things. "They're willing to do that, yes, because there's more choices."
Rao explained during an opening keynote conversation that every player in this space, from publishers to broadcasters to device manufacturers, needs to enrich, understand and respect the consumer experience.
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"This is the moment for us to say, 'Wait a second. We are in the middle of a massive moment where time is being expanded. We are doing it without knowing we are doing it. We have a role to play in it and time is money,'" Rao said.
The industry needs to understand the construct of time more granularly to grasp what it means for a consumer to engage in content, he said.
Rao also addressed the idea that the panel is dead, saying that the panel is more important now because of fragmentation.
"We want to raise the bar on the role of our panel and how we work within our panels," the exec told moderator and Multichannel/B&C senior content producer Michael Farrell. "Because at some point, the ability for AI and modeling breaks down...You do need to get a true observed data set around diversity and behaviors and the only place that that happens right now is the Nielsen panel."
While the panel is important, it's not the only data point. There is not a magic number, said Rao.
"I think there's always going to be a quest for one number because a marketer wants that to begin with," he said. "It is not enough. It is not the Holy Grail."
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