TVB: Challenge of TV Measurement Is Digital, Says Nielsen Executive VP

TVB: Digital, Spectrum, FCC, Wheeler Are Buzzwords at Forward Conference

New York — Representatives of four measurement companies converged Thursday at the sixth annual TVB Forward conference to assuage broadcasters concerned about measurement now and in the future.

“I think local television is held to an extremely high standard of measurement,” said Matt O’Grady, Nielsen’s executive VP and managing director of local media, during the “Measurement: Cross-Platform, Consumer-Centric and Local” panel at the Waldorf Astoria. “I know we can get it right.”

At Nielsen, the diary has reached its shelf life, O’Grady said. Nielsen has increased its sample size and taken away the diary from some markets all together. In assigning demos to large data sets, O’Grady said modeling is the future.

The challenge, he said, is digital. “We have to win at that game. We have to spend more time with Apple,” he said.

comScore initially started digital measurement with panels, but quickly discovered that was not sufficient, said Joan FitzGerald, VP of TV sales and business development. Instead, comScore established a “census network,” wherein every time clients incorporate the comScore tag in digital assets, comScore gets a hit on its server.

One of comScore’s recent product innovations is a “data program where we measure local markets on a more robust basis,” FitzGerald said.

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Rentrak bet big on local TV eight years ago, said CEO and vice chairman Bill Livek. “We are big believers that the entire world is local,” he said. “Nothing sells a product like local television.”

So Rentrak built a service “designed to attack digital before digital needed to be attacked,” Livek said, adding that households demographics are a better indicator of behavior than trying to estimate which person was in front of the TV, “because that’s almost impossible to do.”

Livek sees families, after a long day at work and dinner, continuing to plop down on the couch to watch TV on the biggest screen, not a phone or tablet.

An iPhone costs as much as a 40- or 50-inch TV screen, notes Malcolm CasSelle, senior VP and general manager, digital media, SeaChange International/NewCoin.

“Our approach is not just one device in home,” CasSelle said. “It’s five to 10 devices, taking data from all those devices and cumulating it.”