TV and Internet Platforms Will Exchange Data

There are many competing missions within the advertising and content industries. While in many cases we all distribute on the same universally accepted TV platform, each of us are using the respondent viewer data in our own customized way. Even though each group's goals may be different, these silos knit together a rich tapestry of compelling content and marketing messages that is then delivered to consumers who then further customize the video stream with their DVR. So powerful is this omnipresent platform that a cottage industry of mobile and Internet video has sprung up to catch the leakage.

Each silo's implementation of its TV solution (advertiser, content, or other silo) helps shape our global view on how the television platform is maturing. To understand the direction of the TV platform we must adjust our lenses and from our own silo's vantage point we can see TV content in its totality. Today, for example, across all channels the TV screen is filled with URLs, Twitter, text messaging, 800#'s, and YouTube videos displayed on nearly all commercials and all television shows. These Internet elements -- they should be called "secondary" events if they are sold as value-added on top of a commercial schedule -- are becoming a huge part of the television experience.

As viewership aggregates around these secondary events, TV channels are adding more and more events to their schedules as they clearly see an industrywide utility being unlocked for consumers through the linking of television content to the Internet world. It seems that as the confidence in ratings continues to crumble, the introduction of secondary events has been increasing to make up for the ratings shortfall.

Both platforms (Internet and TV) will need to remain independent so each can calibrate the other through a data exchange, and then advertisers and content owners will be able to measure usage through A|B testing against each platform. Other industries are dependent on data exchanges -- like the airlines or big box retailers -- and we need to be proactive and spur the development of these solutions for our own needs. In addition, our focus on the logistics of linking data sources will cause a roadmap to emerge naturally, one allowing us to work through a checklist of stewardship issues that need to be mapped out, or more likely just plain fixed. There are also project plans that need to be developed with cable, and perhaps Canoe, but these are nothing to keep us from moving forward confident that data exchanges can be built.

I think the secret to the future of the television platform will be in how the engagement data is measured for consumers across platforms and then reported back through what could be hundreds of opt-in data exchange companies that are created just to fill this void that exists in our industries today. Just as Nielsen Media Research is an independent, third-party new data exchanges will also be independent and provide the same checks and balances our industries depend on.

Many of us assumed the promises of the information superhighway really were about the Internet. But the superhighway, I believe, will only emerge through the exchange of data between both the TV and Internet. As a result, data exchanges will create long-term stable metrics for us -- and in tandem, a customizable interactive experience for consumers.

Today's pressures in the advertising sector can be emotionally draining for even the strongest of characters. But we are part of the recalibration of the television platform; when we look back on these turbulent times, we'll remember the digital transition as the day mankind took another gentle step forward, and we were lucky enough to participate.

1 comment about "TV and Internet Platforms Will Exchange Data ".
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  1. K Owyang from Summer Research LLC, August 7, 2009 at 9:29 a.m.

    This is a great article and raises some highly relevant issues. Critical to making your vision happen, is data that is truly an apples-to-apples comparison of TV and internet platforms. For example, just talk to any online video publisher or ad network about the many challenges of comparing their viewer counts to gross ratings points in their efforts to get advertisers to spend more online.

    Creating apples-to-apples data requires understanding the differences between the user-experience for TV and that for online video, and identifying technologies that fit seamlessly into both. We did a project for a technology that fit that bill, and we share our insights at

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