Characterizing it as “the beginning of a big industry change,” Zenith Media Chief Data Officer Rob Jayson this morning announced that the Publicis media agency will begin using Rentrak’s local TV audience measurement data as “the currency” for its local TV advertising buys.
While a number of big shops have begun licensing Rentrak and integrating its data into their planning and buying systems -- and presumably their negotiations with TV outlets -- Zenith is the first to shift from “a currency” to “the currency,” meaning it will be using Rentrak instead of Nielsen’s local TV ratings data.
The move comes as Nielsen has been scrambling to upgrade and overhaul its local TV measurement systems, including the addition of many more people meter homes beginning this season.
Without mentioning Nielsen by name, Zenith’s Jayson stated: “For the first time in industry history, we are replacing the low-response rate, highly unpredictable surveys and diaries with massive and passive measurement.”
The shift is a first-mover in many respects for Zenith, including the fact that a number of TV audience researchers are still divided on how representative Rentrak’s approach is, because it is derived from household-based set-top tuning data, and does not empirically measure or individuals or the demographic composition of those households.
That said, Jayson noted that the move from Nielsen to Rentrak will markedly improve other elements of its local TV buys, including the cost of measuring them.
“We expect to see significant reductions in costs for our clients as well as dramatically improved service,” he said, adding: “Every one of our clients is looking forward to the prospect of greater predictability and accountability. We expect that this new Rentrak-based currency will become the new gold standard for all of local TV ad spending and are excited about the prospect of significant change and improvement in our TV currency and trading. Rentrak information will help us open up a new era of TV negotiation through the use of modern data matching techniques, which enable us to trade on consumer audiences rather than broad demographics.”