Measuring The Unmeasured At The ARF

The ARF always offers events that are a must-attend for researchers. This year’s audience measurement conference was no exception.

Just like everything else in the media landscape today, research is undergoing challenges that require it to transform the way it does business. There is now more to measure -- and more that is unmeasured. There are more platforms and content options, many more large and small competitors for consumer attention and affection, and more data to mine for insights. Researchers now wear many more hats: storyteller, neuroscientist, big-data maven, thought leader and analytics expert. We now need a working knowledge of ACR, STB data, cross-platform relationships, addressable opportunities and privacy pitfalls. The list sometimes appears endless. But it also makes our jobs very relevant and pivotal to the well-being of a company.

The future is screens, according to Laura Desmond, CEO of Starcom MV. “Screens will dominate our environment. There are screens at airports, hotel lobbies, on refrigerators and washing machines. There are touch screens and screens that don't move.” She expects that consumer behaviors will changes with the proliferation of all these screens, and cited the stat that 50% of Twitter users read tweets as they watch TV. But the way we measure all those screens is still evolving.



Measurement Solutions

ESPN’s Artie Bulgrin offered an update on Project Blueprint, a cross-platform solution that uses both single-source and data integration in a hybrid methodology. It combines Arbitron TV and radio data with comScore TV STB, PC and mobile data, along with a “Calibration Panel” recruited from the Arbitron PPM panel.  These are integrated in a “duplication engine” that estimates combinations of usage across five platforms.    A partner on the project, comScore CEO Gian Fulgoni, called it the "best of panels combined with the availability of big data into an elegantly integrated system…. that can operate at scale."

Mark Loughney of ABC gives an overview of all three of the ABC research panels, including DVR playback viewing beyond 7 days and the results of two cross platform studies, in this video.

Advancements, Opportunities, Pitfalls and Privacy

Dave Morgan, CEO of Simulmedia, hosted a panel on how Big Data can move research forward. Researchers need to be discerning in figuring out what the data actually says, compared to what the data appears to say. Once regarded as a panacea to all research efforts, it seems that Big Data actually spurs the need for more small-data initiatives. "We are doing more custom research than ever before. Big Data escalates new questions," says Millward Brown’s Bill Pink.  Explaining the value of Big Data to the C-level is sometimes difficult, but Kellogg’s Aaron Fetters has a solution: He finds that using "the 'Moneyball' example” is an effective way to introduce the value of Big Data to a CEO.

Turner’s Jon Marks said that it is a Big Data world, where these datasets have a huge role to play when used properly. He explained Turner’s Athena Project, which defines audience target segments by the programs they watch, along with Turner’s partnerships in cross-platform measurement, in this video. Marks said he believes  we are in the golden age of market research, where the opportunities for the next generation are almost limitless because the questions keep coming and solutions keep changing. There is a need for great analytical minds to help companies navigate the new media frontier, he said.

But there are pitfalls, especially when we don’t look at the full ecosystem when analyzing data. Christian Kugel of AOL advised that we more fully understand consumer behavior to get the best insights from  data. "What does mobile mean? 60% of mobile moment usage is at home. We need to reframe each strategic opportunity based on what we see the usage is via the data." Mary Ellen Gordon from Flurry talked about how the changing technology can affect behavioral results from the data: "There are lots of apps where cookies don't apply. " So culling data based on cookies may skew your results.

And what about privacy? Aside from the usual response that privacy is important,  some are taking a more pragmatic view. They say it's possible to give consumers a choice where they agree to give up some personal information voluntarily so they receive more targeted and therefore relevant ads.


After two intensive days of research panels, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the range of measurement solutions that are possible using Big Data in combination with custom research. Will there be one major solution that advances into a cross platform and / or addressable currency? These senior executives weigh in on solutions in this video

I say, stay tuned -- this is only the beginning.

Correction: Due to a systems error at MediaPost, the original email edition of this TV Board
column, published last week, inadvertently provided outdated biographical information for Mitch Oscar. We apologize for this error.

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