Rentrak CEO Pitches Stable, Reliable Data In Ad Effort

With word breaking Thursday about Nielsen's hiccups with a particular data set, the topic inevitably came up in a routine executive meeting at Rentrak. Not long after, the competitor moved to capitalize.

Enter a hastily created banner ad running Friday on MediaPost.com that looks to further Rentrak's case it offers the most stable, reliable TV measurement in the industry.

The ad will not win a Clio. Its crude look resembles a law firm trying to recruit injured workers for a class-action suit.

"An URGENT open letter to the TV industry," reads the message on a TV screen. That alternates with "ATTENTION: Top TV Executives."

The click-through leads to a "Dear Colleagues" letter from CEO Bill Livek that positions Rentrak as sort of an outstanding portfolio manager and type of insurance company. As usual, Rentrak doesn't encourage advertisers or networks to drop Nielsen, just sign up for Rentrak as a complementary offering -- in this case perhaps a more dependable one.

Livek declined to say whether the ad was in response to the Nielsen issues, but said: "We made the decision to run this yesterday because it was a timely message."

Nielsen said Friday its problems were with a "program viewing frequency metric" and are "not connected to buying platforms" for TV advertising. It had reported to clients that the matter involved "incorrect data for time-shifted data streams" within one of its systems after a change in procedures.

Livek's pitch letter says: "In any marketplace, the successful investor relies on diversity in investments to minimize risk. Whether it is in worldwide trade, where companies use multiple currencies such as hedging against drops in the Euro through investments in a more stable currency; or in a person's own portfolio, diversity is the best protection in a volatile world."

Kind of sounds like Charles Schwab, no?

"We invite advertisers, networks and agencies to contact us to build the insurance of diversity into their TV ratings portfolio," Livek continues. "Problems will pop up from time to time, but those who are insuring themselves through Rentrak are protected."

Did Rentrak draw inspiration from a direct-mail piece from Prudential?

Livek's letter never mentions Nielsen. Needless to say, however, a reference to "problems" that can "pop up" doesn't leave much to the imagination.

"What happened with the sample currency is a reminder that ad agencies need to make sure they have an insurance policy against volatility," Livek said.

In the letter, Rentrak mentions it culls data from 19 million TV sets, a contrast to Nielsen's much smaller panels. With "census-like" set-top-box data, Rentrak believes its data can minimize volatility.

The Livek letter closes with a plea for potential clients to call. Spend 15 minutes and Rentrak could provide 15% more stable ratings?

Tags: television, tv
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