Rentrak to Buy Product-Placement Measurement Service

Purchase of iTVX is emblematic of need for new ways to analyze advertising

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Looks like Hollywood is trying to invent a new measuring stick.

Rentrak, a company that aims to analyze viewership of movies and TV shows no matter how they are seen, is purchasing a business that analyzes the effectiveness of advertising woven into content, illustrating the new importance the advertising and media industries are placing on measurement as new technologies change the way consumers use video.

Rentrak, which also provides instantly-updated data on movie-audience attendance, is purchasing iTVX, a small concern that analyzes products placed directly into TV programs and movies, for an undisclosed sum, said Bill Livek,  Rentrak’s vice-chairman and chief executive, in an interview.

“Advertisers care about the exposure they’re getting across all of these screens, and the strategy they should deploy in the future,”  LIvek said.  Having accurate information about viewer response to products placed in content by ad deals “is critical right now.”

The idea of weaving cans of soda or cars into programs is an old practice that dates back to the dawn of television. But as more consumers gain access to technology that lets them avoid ads, including DVRs and video-streaming apps, media companies have grown more willing to expand the practice, making a car a central character in a program, as CBS has done with General Motors’ Chevrolet in “Hawaii FIve-O.” or 20th Century Fox and ABC have allowed with Audi and Toyota in “Modern Family.”

Add to that dynamic another twist: More viewers are watching programs as the wish, whether that be through a cable distributor’s replay of favorite network TV programs or a new film release being made available through on-demand venues. The typical metric – Nielsen ratings – doesn’t always apply.

“You have different viewing habits,” explained Frank Zazza, chief executive of iTVX, and advertisers are seeking aid in understanding how effectively their media dollars are being spent

Rentrak could find such a service in more demand as more consumers opt to use “TV Everywhere,” a system being deployed by media companies and content distributors that allows viewers to watch programs online or via digital streaming so long as they have an active subscription to a cable or satellite service.