Podcast: The Ratings Game

This week’s podcast guest is Jane Clarke, CEO and managing director of the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement. She will give a related presentation, titled “The Next Wave Of TV Measurement,” at AdExchanger’s upcoming Programmatic IO New York conference.  

In this episode, Clarke discusses the measurement crisis created by the old TV ratings system’s slow-motion collision with new audience data. The precipitating factor has been the steady increase in return path data (i.e. data gathered through set-top boxes and other connected devices).

“It’s hard to believe ... we still don’t have a complete, nationally representative system that’s based on return path data,” she says. But with decades of research orthodoxy backing the Nielsen standard, change takes time. “There are lots of players in the industry. These are not only technical and research issues, but these are also business issues. If you start changing currency and introducing new measurement, it has a lot of business implications and so everyone has to come along.”

Clarke describes the shift from a “research” mindset, centered on samples and panels, to a “household” mindset centered on data matching and granular segments usually associated with digital. And yet the old way continues to prevail as most upfront deals for 2019 are still negotiated on the Nielsen C3 ratings standard.

“The newer forms of measurement are not stable enough yet, and the industry hasn’t coalesced around what that new currency should be,” according to Clarke. “Every network has a proprietary way of offering a guarantee, but no one is comfortable enough on a syndicated basis to offer the same measurement that can also take care of advanced targeting, audience precision, audience segments.”

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