Wakshlag: Beware of ‘Frankenmetrics’

NEW YORK — Turner Broadcasting System chief research officer Jack Wakshlag said the TV industry is creating a series of complicated “Frankenmetrics” to measure viewer habits for linear television, online video and VOD.

“There are three things we have to start with — how many, how often and how long,” Wakshlag, who credited Fox executive Sherry Brennan with coining the “Frankenmetrics” phrase, said during the keynote address. “If I don’t have each, I don’t have anything to start with. … Those are the three metrics at the fundamental core.”

With those three answers, Wakshlag said, a company can calculate share, reach, frequency and time spent.

Capturing the data for those three simple metrics isn’t easy, he cautioned, because measurement companies don’t work together. That forces content companies to create “Frankenmetrics” or hybrids of measurement company data to fit their needs.

Wakshlag pointed to Nielsen data as an example. Nielsen provides a product that links a tagged ad to a viewer’s Facebook page, from where it can accurately capture the age and sex of the viewer. But if that viewer watches an ad on You Tube — owned by Facebook rival Google — that data is not available. So Nielsen can provide data that says a particular ad had 1 million impressions, 700,000 of which were from 18-to-49-year-olds. But if that ad was also shown on You Tube, Nielsen doesn’t capture that data.

That forces content providers to create their own “Frankenmetric” for a cross-platform deal using Nielsen for the demographic ad impressions and an online campaign-rating product from another vendor for online data, while cobbling together data on their own for You Tube and mobile viewership. “That’s where this industry is right now,” Wakshlag said. “Instead of making babies, we’re creating Frankensteins.”

Wakshlag added that reliable online data seems to be the most difficult to obtain, a problem that could be solved by cooperation between content providers.