Media Insights Q&A: Ed DeNicola and John Morse

Ed DeNicola and John Morse are two research veterans who have joined forces and formed a partnership designed to inform companies on set top box data. Their introductory presentation, called Set Top Box 101, has been showcased at many networks and agencies. This interview delves into their introductory presentation as well as some topline findings about set top box data.

Below is a short excerpt from the interview. Direct links to the full interview videos can be found at

CW: Your joint consultancy has an introduction to set top box data as a presentation. Can you tell us a little bit about the highlights of the presentation?

JM: We provide the definitions of what set top box data definitions actually are as well as laying out the issues that are involved and wade into the details by company - who is offering what - and we change that slide fairly regularly.



ED: One of my favorite things to talk about is the strategies that the different research companies are taking as it relates to set top box data. And it is very interesting - they tend to fall into two camps. One is to just measure digital behaviors and the other is to measure everything: comprehensive measurement.

The only one who can provide comprehensive measurement right now is Nielsen, because they can mingle a panel with the set top box data and add demos. And they also have all these other pieces with which they can integrate. However if you look at TNS, they also have a lot of pieces with which to integrate. And they are almost neck and neck with Nielsen with the exception of having a panel.

It's funny, if you look at TNS' Web site, there is a video of a man with an English accent and he talks about TNS being the first company to actually develop a people meter. So they certainly have the wherewithal to build a panel and get into that space.

JM: We also cover the applications of the data. Sometimes we research people go off the deep end in "research-ese" and need to be brought back to "How is this data going to be used?" and "What are the applications?" and "How is this story going to be told?" So we lay out a variety of options on how to use the data and what kinds of information can be provided of what use to whom.

CW: Do you see a time when we can aggregate all the different set top box data streams with confidence?

ED: Of course the privacy issue is a big concern, but there is one company that is able to tackle that one and that is TRA. They've successfully done it and they have something that they call a privacy shield which is some type of blind match. So now that they have done it, it would be good if others can follow.

CW: Let's talk about privacy. Do you think that it is an issue and if so, can we overcome it?

ED: It is a huge issue and that is why there is only one research company who is actually integrating with purchasing behavior. Of course that is the holy grail --  to be able to see who viewed an ad and subsequently purchased the product. Project Apollo did not take off and there are a lot of people who are looking at set top box data to get that same type of information. However it is not readily available. The hold-up is privacy, but all the various companies are working on it. TRA has overcome that and so we expect that in the future everyone will be able to get around that issue.

CW: Thank you both for your time. How can we contact you?

JM: Through our Web site,





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