To Dave Morgan, CEO of the ad-targeting company, what may have mattered most was the sliver in the upper right, representing the minuscule share grabbed by the group of lesser-known, highly-targeted cable networks. Maybe a Planet Green, an Ovation, a Sundance.
Traditionally, Nielsen may have called to mind the government - easy to beat up on, but badly needed. Simulmedia's research, though, actually bats away some of the criticism and shows a strong correlation between Nielsen's measurement of the major networks and Simulmedia's proprietary system using set-top-box data (covering 17 million boxes and 30 million people).
The sturdy link carries through to some cable networks. Yet, there were still notable discrepancies, where low- and un-rated networks had considerable "volatility."
Simulmedia would argue a new tool is needed with more stability that can better reflect actual viewing and maybe give advertisers more confidence to buy the networks. Without sturdy metrics, they may be wary of taking a chance, even with a coveted and elusive target waiting.
"There's a pretty valuable audience in smaller networks," said Jack Smith, Simulmedia's chief product officer.
Simulmedia acquires inventory that reaches 106 million-plus U.S. homes and re-sells it with the promise of providing targeting based on a heavy dose of algorithms and other data-based concoctions.
To be sure, Morgan isn't pondering an industry without the reliable status quo of Nielsen, just more options.
"There's a lot to be said that we need something that ties into yesterday," he said.
But with more robust metrics at the lower-rated programmers, particularly in daytime or late night, there's a chance for some networks to move away from direct-response advertisers and attract more brand marketers.
Attracting direct-response advertising can be a quick fix, but isn't considered a robust long-term strategy.