3 Fundamental Changes in TV Measurement: Q&A With Qubole's Ashish Thusoo

Ashish Thusoo, CEO and co-founder Qubole, previously ran Facebook’s Data Infrastructure team.  “Facebook was one of the earliest companies to capitalize on big data, and I had the privilege of having a front row seat to its transformation into a data-driven company,’” he explains.

He founded Qubole in 2011 taking what he learned at Facebook about creating an open data infrastructure and applying to the public cloud.

Charlene Weisler: From your perspective, how has TV measurement changed?

Ashish Thusoo: The world of television has experienced three fundamental changes over the last few years. First, TV has become digital….In today’s world, you know who is watching, what they are watching, how long they are watching, and how they are behaving, which means the types of things you can measure has grown exponentially.

Second, TV has gone multichannel…. These days there are an infinite set of distributors and broadcasters, so viewers can watch content through cable TV, stream through subscription video on demand services such as Netflix or Hulu, or access websites and apps like YouTube and Snapchat…. And they can consume on multiple devices simultaneously.  This variety creates endless ways to measure video consumption, but also creates challenges.



Finally, it’s not just about TV. You can correlate Web, social and offline behavior to build an even more complete profile of each viewer.  Those three changes have led to an explosion of data and increasing complexity about how to create meaningful measurement. While companies have new opportunities to collect data, the challenge now becomes how to get value out of it.

Weisler: Tell me about Qubole and where it sits in the TV measurement world.

Thusoo: We provide big data-as-a-service, meaning we help organizations in the media, advertising, gaming, e-commerce, TV and entertainment industries turn their data into business insights. Our cloud-based platform, Qubole Data Service, runs on public clouds such as AWS, Azure, Oracle and Google Cloud Platform, and addresses the challenges of processing huge volumes of structured and unstructured data. For instance, our solution helps companies process all the data collected by tracking and analyzing consumers’ consumption of video content.

Weisler: Are you able to help develop new metrics for TV measurement?

Thusoo: In the past, TV viewership was measured on historical information. This evolved into real-time measurement, as advertisers and distributors could find out who exactly was watching a show on a real-time basis.
The next measurement for TV will be predictive. Not only can you learn historical and real-time information about a viewer, you’ll be able to predict what he or she will watch next.

Weisler: What role do you see data playing three to five years from now?

Thusoo:  In the next few years, technology will emerge that can determine precisely who is watching something, through biometric face recognition or eyeball tracking.

The challenge today is that media companies aren’t able to know 100% for certain who is watching something. A middle-aged father, for example, may watch the first half of a football game in the living room, but then leave to make dinner and his young son watches the second half without him. And yet, the same commercials will play during the son and father’s separate viewing experiences, although they aren’t relevant to both of them. Biometric tracking could be something we see as a tool for the media to know precisely who is watching something and optimize his or her experience.

Additionally, we’ll see the creation of hyper-personalized viewing experiences by combining a user’s past, real-time and predictive experiences. For instance, predictive analytics will anticipate when a consumer will prefer to watch a commercial and then change a consumer’s viewing experience in real time.

3 comments about "3 Fundamental Changes in TV Measurement: Q&A With Qubole's Ashish Thusoo".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 6, 2017 at 6 p.m.

    Charlene,"TV has gone digital"----really?What he really means is that about 10-12% of TV/video viewing is via SVOD or digital and most of this fairly small amount---compared to "linear TV"--- is ad-free. Or isn't he aware of those basic facts?Until there is a vast improvement in the amount as well as the quality of non -broadcast network/cable/syndicated/local stationTV fare, available on digital platforms and much of it is ad-supported, national advertisers will have little chice but to continue using "linear TV" as their basic, mass reach vehicle. Why?That's where most of the audience will be for the forseeable future.

  2. Ariel Amster from Qubole, February 7, 2017 at 4:15 p.m.

    While only 10-12% of TV/Video is delivered SVOD or digital, most media companies are monetizing content via advertizing, developing audiences and making content decisions based on data.  Cable distributors are using set top box data, programming aggregators and developers are using web data, social data and 3rd party data to develop audiences and producers are using data to make decisions around content development.  Even with a good share of programming being delivered linearly and advertising still being purchased in blocks, data is playing a much larger role in informing media decisions.  Many large media companies are investing in data platforms to get a better handle on all this data and making sense of it at the holding company level.

  3. John Grono from GAP Research, February 8, 2017 at 1:30 a.m.

    Ashish, you are correct when you say you get really good 'set ratings'.   But that only applies to connected sets in connected homes or mobile connected devices.

    If you see a 'tune in' or a channel/content change, you can be pretty sure that someone was there and made a change.   Head count =1.  You can longitudinally track change lines and have a guess whether they are still there.   But apart from the content type you really have no idea how many people and who are the types of people watching.

    TV ratings exist primarily to sell ads.   I'm yet to see a brief that targets "TV sets".

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