For example, a big part of the pitch rests on a greater ability to eliminate waste from ad campaigns. Sure, unlike the web where it is common to swap out ads in real-time, no one is going to be yanking a commercial before the the next break. But Kantar's "Campaign EKG" offering could provide another layer on top of all the other measurements that would show when a set of ads is starting to lose affect while the ads are in the middle of their run.
"What we’re looking at is a very significant and possibly game-changing process," Boehme told AdExchanger. "All these digital devices that consumers own talk to each other. And most importantly, they report information back about usage that eclipses what any other researcher has ever had."
Boehme's pitch also comes with some stats designed to convince media planners that they need to consider much more than gross ratings points. According to Kantar, about 87 percent of the TV viewing audience is tuned into advertisements. In other words, at any given time, 13 percent of all viewers are not watching, which leads Kantar to conclude that this "type of wide-spread commercial avoidance" costs advertisers an estimated $9 billion.
Despite the big claims, Kantar acknowledges that this is more "evolutionary" as opposed to revolutionary. And the company also understands that it's not going to completely displace Nielsen any time soon, at least when it comes to TV ratings. Instead, it's positioning its second-by-second offerings as a way to improve and enhance the current method of audience ratings.
"We could never measure actual commercial viewing, because traditional methods didn’t operate second-by-second data the way Return Path does," he said. "The difference between the program viewing, which has been a surrogate or proxy for commercial viewing, and the commercial views can be defined and studied like never before. As a result, this new data will lead to new conclusions – for example, some commercials may have higher audiences than programs."
Kantar can match its data to 10 separate variables, such as program, time period, position in a commercial pod, the ad category. In addition to looking at second-by-second TV viewing activity, Kantar is also pulling in insights from its Shopcom consumer purchasing research unit as well as automotive data company JD Power & Associates. As it gains better understanding of those variables and data points over time, Kantar says it can then build benchmarks that agencies would be able to orient their TV buys around.
From a practical standpoint, more data is always welcome. But knowing how to make it actionable in a quicker fashion -- Kantar can get the data for second-by-second TV viewing within a day or two -- will be when the game really starts to change. At the moment, these tools could have some influence, especially as more consumers embrace time-shifting via DVRs and other digital tools and devices.
"As more and more companies roll out addressable and interactive advertising tools across all media, Return Path Data will be more crucial," Boehme said. "And as the audiences fragment even more and increased time-shifting continues, marketers will want to find ways of targeting TV viewers when they're in front of any or all of the various screens they use."