Media Insights Q&A With Bruce Goerlich

Bruce Goerlich, Chief Research Officer for Rentrak, brings his extensive agency research experience to the supplier side to help further strengthen the role of set top box data in media measurement. In my interview with him, (excerpted below) Goerlich discusses Rentrak and its many data sources, the role of set top box data as a metric, how agencies can post on STB data, dramatic changes in the industry in the past five years and, looking ahead, some predictions for the next five years.

Direct links to the full interview videos can be found at the WeislerMedia blog.

Charlene Weisler: Bruce, you have extensive agency research experience, you've sat on the other side of the currency issue. One of the challenges with set top box data is getting the agencies to consider it as a potential currency. What would you say the challenges and the opportunities are to make this possible?

Bruce Goerlich: Obviously one of the biggest challenges is the inertia in the marketplace. Those agencies that are clever, that are seeking to understand the change... that is happening in television, are the ones who are really starting to leap on set top box data.

Rentrak has an agency upfront package that will be announced soon. There are some agencies that are signing up for that. There are two main areas [where] agencies will be using the data. The first you might say is the low hanging fruit, is the long tail.

There are a lot of unmeasured networks out there that set top box data can handle. It's the long tail in terms of numbers bouncing all over the place. When you've got millions of set top boxes, what you areable to do is have trendability. You are able to have stable data so that the numbers will, in fact, hold. And stability and trendability are incredibly important on the agency side for posting, because you want to be able to give your clients what you say you are going to give.

There are makegoods but they are messy and you would really prefer to have the inventory deliver what it is supposed to deliver. So that is one thing. The second thing, which is even more exciting, is the potential to bring in other data sets like Simmons, which we have done -- [it] is live now on the local service,

[With] StationView Essentials, we are rolling out now in our national service TV Essentials. You can actually take a look at that product information combined with our set top box ratings -- and with other services and with the client's own databases, so that you can match at the household level, being careful about privacy and do the matching with a third party. You can start producing ratings based on product usage information. That is what we are doing now and that is the other currency that is terribly exciting. I think that is the potential for agencies.

CW: What would you say has been the most dramatic change in the industry in the past five years?

BG: The most dramatic change in the industry has been this contrary trend where we have so much more data that is coming, whether it's on the television side in terms of the long tail that we have been talking about. or whether it's on the digital internet side or online mobile side where there is all this information you need to manage. And yet for [the number of] people that are hired to do that for clients or even at agencies is shrinking. The research departments at agencies and the research departments at a lot of places are shrinking.

What is needed to fill that gap are systems, and that is one thing that Rentrak is fantastic at -- having high powered analytic systems. That is what you need in this world of huge amounts of data" to organize it, to rationalize it, to normalize it... so you can get answers to your clients. That is one of the exciting aspects of Rentrak and the other measurement companies out there.

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