Most television media plans today are partially built using fusion data gleaned from consumer research. Even with all the indicators of an interactive future, TV media planning has not made the leap to its metadata future. Realistically, interactive television planning will also have to work with incumbent media software systems. Thus the granularity of listings data (also known as metadata) is sure to grow in importance.
With video content delivery further decomposing into linear, time-shifting Internet, and video-on-demand buckets growing, it will be almost impossible for planners to hit their consumer targets. Fusion with consumer panels, while accepted today, will most likely not be the best way to build flights, as planners need something to help them navigate all the new viewer data.
The challenge then is to build a data scheme within today's media-buying software that can help planners make sense of all of television. The data scheme would need to be able to tie together all forms of video content, so planning ccould be coordinated and results measured in a timely fashion. I believe that TV listings data is that universal scheme -- and interactive TV "clicks" could become the primary data source for planning.
The infrastructure for this data scheme exists today within the television listings companies. Each day broadcasters and cable networks update their schedules to centralized third-party databases that then syndicate out the listings to mobile carriers, electronic program guides, Internet guides, media software, to name a few. Today listings information is nearly error-free, robust, and can be updated in near real time.
Planners will need to sort schedules using perimeters like program name, genre, time of day, actor, and Zip codes when trying to determine the consumer "engagement" baseline for their campaigns. Using this method, planners should then be able to buy flights queried from TV listings attributes, historical click data, and ratings. Fusion research from consumer panels, in my opinion, would become more of a forward-looking planning tool, only for those campaigns that had no historical TV click data.
Listings data will also open up the long tail of television advertising so that companies may be able to target a very narrow audience (like rodeo shows). We may find that as time goes on, advertisers should be able to buy individual interactive avails, or lower-thirds, similar to how keywords are sold on the Internet (by show, actor, genre, location, etc). In addition, listings data will be able to bridge the gap and link noninteractive avails to interactive avails, so that the transition to nationwide interactivity campaign analysis is not patchwork.