Caroline Horner was an early pioneer in set-top-box data through her digital experience and leadership position at Dish. Now, as senior vice president/product innovation at Rentrak, she is helping to create a more versatile data toolbox so the advertising and entertainment industries can discover new value.
Here’s an excerpt from my interview with her, available in full here.
Charlene Weisler: What are you currently working on at Rentrak?
Caroline Horner: I am building the data products I have always wanted as a client. When you are working in advertising, you are often working with very awkward data; everyone has a question from their clients that they need to answer.
I now have the opportunity to… build a system that reports all the data that we want to report. What is real reach? What is real frequency? What behavior… is absolute evidence of [people’s] interaction with content?
CW: Rentrak announced a new data initiative called Rubik. Can you tell us about it?
CH: Sure. Rubik is a household-level data set that we pulled from our massive data set. It’s about a half million homes and we are providing an environment where clients tunnel into our server, and they can do the analytics at the household level to analyze what people are doing….
We heard that our clients wanted more flexibility [and] to do custom analytics on the fly, and so we made a dataset available. We have over 10 network clients using the product right now. We have attached 4000 to 5000 segmentations on it – Boolean segmentation – the ability to cross different segments together.
So you can target those consumers [whether they are] Jeep owners or cat owners. The other side of it is the ability to do dynamic targeting, creating a user group or a viewer group that perhaps didn’t get exposed to any Jeep ads — so how do you replan a campaign for them?
CW: What trends are you seeing in how consumers are using the new technology?
CH: It is dramatic. When I started, we were in the 20%-30% DVR penetration. Now you see a lot of time-shifting that helps consumers see a lot more content. Even more than that, is on-demand, where you don’t have to remember to make a selection to record a show. At the same time, there is more DVR capacity, where people can store more of what they want to watch over time.
So we are seeing a lot of pull away from the live component — although that is still very important. Free on-demand has been tremendous. People have been sampling and, when they like what they see, place it on their DVR for future viewing. More studying will be done on DVRs – what people choose to record, how long they keep it and how long before they actually view it. Do they need to keep up or will they binge? You can do homemade bingeing.
Digital is also starting to have some impact on viewing on devices. What I see is that live streaming is very similar to live television. But on-demand is almost exactly the same on the set-top box as it is in the digital environment.
The future could bring curated channels where social meets television. We are not there yet, but the future could bring groups together who recommend content to each other.
CW: All TVs being sold today are connected TVs. How will that impact data, measurement and consumer usage?
CH: Data – it’s getting a little scary because there is such fragmentation and there has been an opinion to hold back data….I think it really hurts the industry for folks to hide what is going on. I know the instinct is to protect competitive information, but it is hurting the ability of people to understand the value of that inventory.
I think transparency is important. If you hold on to [data], it can’t be transparent and people don’t know how to judge comparative value. The word “fraud” is ugly, but it is hard to have a benchmark that is the same if folks are hiding data.
So I think it is important for measurement to be brought together – edited the same way, MRC-accredited. We all have to agree on what is currency. There will continue to be experimentation with consumer usage, and I think it will amplify very quickly.
There have been some breaches in the programmer deals. They are beginning to sell content into these OTT systems and the permissions are there – in the Sling TVs and the Apple TVs. Right now there is not a lot of choice. There are only a handful of viewer carriers. Something like Apple TV can become a real threat to the environment.