Commentary

The Business Of Reinventing 'TV Households'

In these fast-moving times of cross-platform all-you-can-eat media, fragmentation is a mess. We are, of course, continually trying to identify meaningful trends, work out how to keep abreast of them and how not to be distracted by things that ultimately are nothing more than bright shiny objects.

Welcome to the world of modern media.

Modern, yes, but, curiously, although we’ve been quick to adopt emerging media and new terminology in certain aspects of the media business, there are some terms that have been with us for years. And they aren’t necessarily quite as fit for purpose as they once were.

One of these is “TV Households." Once, it was perfectly clear that a TV Household would be a household with access to a working TV. Now, the trend toward thinking in terms of video consumption across all platforms, capable of delivering it rather than being constrained to the historic model of passive viewing of scheduled television broadcasts, has called the usefulness of that definition into question.

It’s not that the definition has become wrong, simply that it doesn’t encompass the array of viewing behaviors that advertisers, agencies and media owners are keen to understand and leverage.

Logically then, the definition could be expected to move toward some kind of definition of a Video Household. This will only be supported if measurement of enough households can be equally comprehensive across at least the three leading video platforms of TV, online and mobile phone. (And ideally tablet, but we’ll have to see about that one.)

Within each of those platforms, there are subsets of video viewing to be considered from Live (scheduled) TV, DVR, VOD, DVD, streaming, short clips, full length programming etc. and all by device, time of day, household member, along with all the other variables one can think of. Such a scenario seems to point inevitably not only to the notion of a Video Household definition, but also a degree of Video Household segmentation.

I strongly believe this is a logical development of the current scenario. The industry has to get the best understanding possible of video consumption in the home.

But that’s just the start of things.

This kind of approach will ultimately be just as important for understanding the consumption of Radio – or Audio Households – Print – or Text Households – and so on if we are to gain true cross-platform insights to inform everything from content development and distribution through ad inventory development and media buying. It is all in the service of reaching the right people with the right message via the right media at the right time.

It sounds complicated, but while the process of defining it and delivering it may be just that, the results will simplify and modernize the way the media industry address cross-platform media consumption and engagement.

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9 comments about "The Business Of Reinventing 'TV Households'".
  1. John Grono from GAP Research , September 26, 2012 at 10:09 a.m.
    Spot on Mike. It will also mean that the 'universes' (and therefore reach potential) of each will be different.
  2. Mike Bloxham from Frank N. Magid Associates , September 26, 2012 at 11:12 a.m.
    John - I agree. I can see something like a Household Video Matrix defining segments by the relative prevalence of devices by use. Such a Matrix would be driven by the hierarchy of video consumption on different devices along with other contextual variables including day-parts, co-viewing, concurrent media exposure etc. Hmmm - sounds like the basis for another column. Mike
  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , September 26, 2012 at 11:17 a.m.
    What's a household ?
  4. Mike Bloxham from Frank N. Magid Associates , September 26, 2012 at 11:33 a.m.
    Paula - at it's simplest (and purely for the terms of TV ratings measurement) it is defined as a home that is cable of tuning into at least one working TV. It definitely doesn't get into the social make-up of that home (multi-generational etc.) but who knows, maybe that is something else that will evolve in the future! Mike
  5. Paul Benjou from 3D Printing Bureau , September 26, 2012 at 2:37 p.m.
    A household is not a home. It now extends beyong the front door to a galaxy of viewing screen options. Although TV (home) viewing is at an all time high, it is also high time we begin to push the rating services to either revamp their methods or risk losing out to some smart university grads in a garage that will figure it out.
  6. Mike Bloxham from Frank N. Magid Associates , September 26, 2012 at 3:41 p.m.
    Paul - I guess that's part of the point I'm making. While the current definition of a TV Household is tied to a "home", the various viewing options - combined with the fact that marketers target people and not buildings - do indeed point towards an approach that allows for the whole range of viewing behaviors exhibited by those living in a home (wherever that viewing takes place). Mike
  7. John Grono from GAP Research , September 26, 2012 at 4:27 p.m.
    A household is where the person eats there evening meal and sleeps. We have tradiitionally confined measurement to 'viewing within the household'. This is purely for pragmatic cost reasons - the volume of 'away from household' TV consumption was estimated to be low whereas the cost to measure it was high. However, here in Australia the COMPOSITION of the household is a KEY element. We look at the number of working TV sets in the household, the lifestage of the household (e.g. single person homes, young couples, families with kids, older couples etc), whether they get Pay TV or not, whether they are digital or not (becoming redundant) and whether they have a PVR. I see this changing soon to add whether they have an IPTV, a tablet etc. But the basic common fact is that (virtually) everyone eats and sleeps somewhere every night and that becomes the base unit. Metering the TV in the household is relatively easy. We're working on metering and measurement systems for 'untethered' TV capable devices (tablets, mobiles, laptops - and maybe even public-based viewing). Therefore I do not see 'TV household' as the base unit changing - but I DEFINITELY see its definition and composition changing.
  8. Mike Bloxham from Frank N. Magid Associates , September 26, 2012 at 5:45 p.m.
    John - Agreed. No matter how complex the behaviors we seek to measure, the need to anchor them to a constantly defined framework - the household - will remain. As you say, household make up is and will continue to be important but the real area for development will relate to the presence and use if devices. And though home-based video consumption still far out-strips consumption anywhere else (and will do for some time), it' in our nature as human being to ask "yes, but what about when they're not at home?" Also the consumption of video when in close proximity to environments relevant to advertisers - such as shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants etc. - may prove to be more contexually valuable than consumption at home if advertisers are able to leverage the opportunity to influence behavior near point of purchase. and then we'd have a premium on out of home viewing! Mike
  9. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , September 26, 2012 at 6:51 p.m.
    Thanks Mike, but believe or not I do know what the traditional "household" is and how to share/hut to predict (though I never trusted it and defied using it when I could) too. What I was curious to see how the other commentators and you would answer and all of you would know better than this ol' media person. In 2001, the Walkman was still the latest technology.