Media Insights Q&A with Rentrak's Bill Livek

by , Oct 8, 2009, 1:45 PM
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Data and consumer segmentation has become pivotal in the current media landscape and there are several companies who are well positioned to offer insightful information on viewer behavior. Rentrak, with its deep database of VOD, movie and set top box activity is one of these companies. Charlene Weisler interviews Bill Livek, CEO of Rentrak. Livek discusses his background, Rentrak's business model, segmentation, changes in the industry and some predictions for the next five years.   

 Links to the full interview videos can be found at http://weislermedia.blogspot.com/search?q=livek Here is an excerpt:

CW: One of the big discussions about research in set top box data, consumer usage behavior today is the issue of privacy. How is Rentrak addressing that?

BL: We take privacy very seriously. The future is phenomenal for the American consumer because in America brand owners can produce and distribute products very effectively and very efficiently because they create mass markets (this means the consumer gets great value because efficient advertising actually lowers the product cost). Advertising and relationships with consumers are very important. That whole relationship gets destroyed if you violate the bond of privacy between a consumer and companies like ourselves. Therefore all of the systems [in which] we utilize merging databases, we're doing in a privacy-compliant way with complete respect for the American consumer.

 CW: Can we talk about standards in measurement? We have several companies working with set top box data and we have a company like Nielsen that has the standard of the industry in terms of rating, VPVH and share. How can we best develop standards that can be accepted on a platform basis, for example in the measurement of set top box data?

 BL: In my opinion, standards don't get developed within committees. Standards get developed through billions and billions of iteration of trial and error and then over time understanding what should be done as a best practice. As an example: the data that a  digital set top devices can distribute are very different depending on when they were built, by what company and the retrieval systems that companies  that own the set top devices have. Rentrak has been doing this for years now and we have processed on a daily basis more information than American Express processes with their transactions. So literally billions of transactions where a dynamic set of editing and processing rules have had to be developed. Those have been developed by Rentrak and they continue to evolve. It is my view that Rentrak has a responsibility, being the leader in the business, to share  with our customers and with the industry in a process through an industry group like the MRC (Media Research Council). Rentrak has a commitment to be completely transparent.

  CW: Can you give me three predictions for the next five years?

 BL: Wow. My crystal ball is usually broken -- but I will give it a shot. Databases will become essential in our business. Day to day advertising decisions will be reliant on databases. Second prediction - research will find its role in a different spot in conjunction with databases. And the third prediction is that as we come out of this great recession and the brand owners increase their profitability, the media companies that are providing content across all traditional and digital platforms will do extraordinarily well, in part because they will use systems like what Rentrak is providing today to communicate with advertisers.

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