×

Big Data Era Dawns for Advertising Dealmakers

Reliable ratings for cross-platform viewership are not quite ready for primetime this year, but industry experts expect the playing field to change dramatically by next year’s upfront.

The February merger of ComScore and Rentrak has spurred competition in a field long owned by Nielsen. Nielsen has made big strides in its efforts to better capture the 360-degree picture of television viewing, although wide release of its “total audience measurement” ratings are still some months away.

ComScore is focused on a big-data approach that is designed to allow users to parse audiences not just along age and gender lines but by a host of other categories. Those discrete groups include narrowly defined “purchaser targets” — long the dream of marketers looking to get the most bang for their ad spending.

The conundrum at present is that Nielsen and the enlarged ComScore use different methodologies that make for apples-to-oranges comparisons. But industry veterans expect there will be a process of sorting out how ComScore data from some 10 million-plus homes will be used side-by-side with Nielsen numbers and lead to big changes in 2017.

Jane Clarke, CEO and managing director of the TV and advertising industry-backed Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement, predicts that ComScore’s numbers will become the basis of some aspect of ad sales guarantees, probably in tandem with traditional Nielsen stats.

“All of the networks are starting to offer these overlays (of data sources) as well as starting to sell a certain amount of inventory against those targets,” Clarke says. “Now you’re seeing (marketers) buy based on Nielsen age and gender ratings and then get secondary guarantees. By 2017 you’ll really start to see a shift. I think it’s going to take a year for the industry to get used to all this new data.”

In the upfront context, the biggest challenge is advance forecasting of ratings for new shows, as required for setting ad guarantees months in advance of a program’s airdate. Nielsen numbers have been the currency of television for 60-plus years, but there’s a big challenge in projecting the number of likely new car buyers so far out, Clarke says.

David Poltrack, chief research officer for CBS Corp., agrees with Clarke.

“Last year, a lot of the pre-upfront conversation was about the new tools available to advertisers, but they were just introductory conversations and not really active,” Poltrack says. “This year, there is a lot more advanced dialogue and a lot more requests for targeting. … The process will still be based on the demo, but expect to see a lot more creative integration using new data and targeting.”

Better measurement means a strengthened economic foundation for the TV industry, which has been frustrated at the fact that a significant amount of viewing has gone unmeasured in recent years by the Nielsen yardstick. That’s more than an issue of bragging rights about popularity — it amounts to money left on the table for ad-supported networks.

Network researchers are also excited at the prospect of learning ever more detail about the discreet audiences that turn out for shows via VOD, streaming and DVRs.

“One of the key insights will be unduplicated reach across platforms to demonstrate the value and size of our true total audience from both a programming and advertising perspective,” says Lisa Heimann, ABC’s VP of multiplatform research.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Spotify Announces Upgrades to Family Plan,

    Spotify Announces Upgrades to Family Plan, at No Charge in U.S. and U.K.

    Just days after reports emerged that Spotify is aiming to increase the price of its family plan in its home market of Scandinavia, the streaming giant announced an upgrade to the plan — with no price increase in the U.S. and U.K., where it remains at $14.99 and £15, respectively. A rep for the company [...]

  • Untold Stories Film Program

    Robert De Niro's Company Files $6 Million Suit Against Ex-Employee

    Robert De Niro’s company has filed a $6 million lawsuit against a former employee, accusing her of embezzling money and binge-watching Netflix while on the job. Canal Productions, De Niro’s loan-out company, also accuses Chase Robinson of racking up exorbitant hotel and restaurant charges and using millions of De Niro’s frequent flyer miles for her [...]

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST

    Jay-Z Gets Shade From Kaepernick, Support From Cardi B as NFL Fallout Continues

    UPDATED: If anyone expected the drama surrounding Jay-Z’s deal with the NFL to calm down over the weekend, they were mistaken, as controversy and conversation continued to swirl. The situation grew even more intense late Friday when TMZ reported that Jay is looking to acquire a majority interest in an unspecified NFL team, which would [...]

  • Curiosity Stream Altice

    Altice USA Pacts With John Hendricks' CuriosityStream Service

    Altice USA has set a deal with John Hendricks’ CuriosityStream to expand distribution of the science- and history-focused subscription streaming service. The deal will make CuriosityStream available to all Altice USA’s 4.9 million customers across 21 states, including a big cluster serving New York and Connecticut. Altice also plans to add the CuriosityStream app to [...]

  • Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven

    Department of Justice Backs Led Zeppelin in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Copyright Case

    The U.S. Department of Justice has weighed in on the next big music copyright case on the horizon following the Katy Perry “Dark Horse” decision, and taken Led Zeppelin’s side in the long-running copyright dispute that pits the writers of the group’s anthem “Stairway to Heaven” against the publishers of the earlier song “Taurus” by [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Prosecutors Make Last-Minute Move to Bolster Case

    The Manhattan D.A.’s office is making a last-minute bid to strengthen its case against Harvey Weinstein, who is set to be tried next month on charges of rape and sexual assault. Prosecutors notified the court on Tuesday that they will seek a new indictment. The D.A.’s office wants jurors to hear from Annabella Sciorra, the [...]

  • Jeffrey Epstein

    Jeffrey Epstein's Autopsy Rules That He Died by Suicide

    Jeffrey Epstein’s death earlier this month has been ruled a suicide by hanging. The New York Times reported on Friday that the city’s medical examiner has officially made the ruling six days after Epstein was found dead in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. According to the Times, which cites a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content