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Right Path to Data

Even in a digital age, there are only a few ways to count how many viewers watch video, and the ones using return path data seem to be gaining popularity.

For many years, Nielsen used its panels — representative samples of the nation’s viewers — to estimate ratings. Tagging and cookies were the ways digital media was measured.

But George Ivie, executive director of the Media Rating Council, said those methods are now getting minimized. Meanwhile, return path data — whether from TV sets or your cable box for TV, or from the Software Development Kits embedded in apps used for streaming data — is growing.

“Even Nielsen is moving toward incorporating return path data in its measurement,” Ivie said.

Metered panels such as the ones from Nielsen and comScore, still have an important function, but especially in combination with the nearly census-level data that comes from set-top boxes and SDKs.

“More and more, we’re going to get these larger transaction data sets to build the basic data that we’re going to adjust with the meters,” Ivie said.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.