Media Insights Q&A With Rentrak's Cathy Hetzel

Cathy Hetzel, corporate president of Rentrak, is a pioneer in interactive television and set-top-box data. Her first role at Rentrak was to ascertain whether Rentrak's home video business could be adapted to television. After helping to launch their Video On Demand measurement service by examining log data from the servers, she saw the possibility of set-top-box data as a new way to measure television. In this interview, Cathy talks about Rentrak, set-top-box data providers and the competitive landscape. She also offers some insights into the media landscape over the next few years.

Below is a short excerpt of the interview, the complete version of which can be viewed here.

CW: Let's talk about Rentrak's cross-platform initiatives.

CH: We are starting with our on-demand service, where we have 100% market share of census-level on-demand television data for the U.S. We currently provide a dashboard for our on-demand clients to connect other data sources and give them an idea of where the transactions are coming from.



Online can prove to be a challenging platform to analyze because generally, you think of online as something that is delivered via IP and is watched on a computer. However, it is also delivered potentially to a tablet or a mobile phone.

What we are learning from our clients is that the most important thing for them is to understand is our viewing metrics, based on ad-supported, subscription and transactional business models.  They would also like to understand what viewing is happening inside the home and in other places. Today, we can provide a roll up of on-demand transactions across TV, mobile and Internet. We can also flag certain data sets to indicate a portable device vs. a computer, and we will continue to expand our ability to track by device. 

CW: In addressable advertising, I think the metrics are more custom? 

CH: Today we see it as being more custom; client-by-client and partner-by-partner. In some cases, we are serving as a verification partner for our clients where they give us the information and we apply our standard editing rules such as "TV-on" and TV-off."  

In other cases, we are getting the raw data directly and creating the reporting on behalf of our clients.  In all cases, addressable advertising metrics are only being shared between the advertiser and the operator, not aggregated and reported publicly as we do with our national and local TV measurement services.  

Agencies and advertisers have much more confidence in a third party who is vetting the data, versus getting the data directly from a service that might not impose Rentrak's same level of judicious analyzation in order to provide the most accurate and stable ratings metrics.  

CW: Deutsche Bank, the financial institution that brought out the Nielsen IPO, describes Rentrak as lacking momentum and offers its opinion on which Rentrak customers will drop the service. In a world of speculation and market positioning, what is your response to Deutsche Bank's prognosis?

CH: We respectfully disagree with Deutsche Bank's assessment. They are simply wrong. Rentrak continues to make solid progress by integrating its census-level currency with third-party processors such as Donovan, Strata and One Domain, which enhance the tools used in the day-to-day business of buying and selling advertising.  

We have a robust client list and pipeline of local stations, national networks and advertising agencies.  Remember, Rentrak is the only company that offers census-level VOD data to help our clients sell advertising and make important business decisions. This has always been a core part of our business, and Rentrak continues to lead the industry as we expand our services to provide the most advanced cross platform intelligence available today.

(Weisler's disclosure: I own Rentrak stock.)

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