Openet Releases White Paper on New Audience Measurement Solutions

February 9, 2010 - Openet

DUBLIN, Ireland – Feb. 9, 2010:  Openet, the leading provider of Transactional Intelligence for the world’s largest and most innovative network service providers and cable operators, today released a white paper discussing how audience measurement solutions can track viewing habits across devices and boost annual operator media ad revenue by seven percent.  Entitled “Making TV Audience Measurement Count,” the paper is being presented to key cable technologists during the CableLabs® Winter Conference this week in Denver, Colo. 

“Counting TV viewers accurately is more important than ever these days.  At a time when TV viewership is becoming even more fragmented, advertisers are increasingly demanding that TV programmers and distributors account for each viewer actually reached,” said Mike Manzo, CMO of Openet.  “Moreover, advertisers are insisting on hyper-targeted advertising aimed directly at the viewers they most want to reach with ads that appeal to those specific viewers based on their viewing habits and demographics, just as the Internet has been allowing for years.”    

Existing TV Ratings Methods Aren’t Working

The criticisms of the current ratings system are many and varied. In general, critics charge that polling box, people meter and personal diary methodologies are all inherently flawed, leading to serious data inaccuracies and limitations. 

Beyond these issues, current TV ratings reports offer only the most rudimentary demographic information. While the reports do break down viewers by age, they provide little other demographic insight into who is viewing what.  In particular, no data exists for multi-attribute market segments, and traditional ratings methods are not yet set up to measure multi-screen video viewing.

“Even the current methods for measuring set-top box viewing have limitations of their own. Although set-top event tuning measurement techniques offer great promise for the future, the landscape is still evolving,” said Alan Breznick, senior industry analyst, Heavy Reading.  “For one thing, set-top box and video server measurements tend to be operator-specific or even system-specific, leading to inconsistent data formats.  So pooling set-top data from several systems that are run by the same cable operator can be a tremendously complicated task, and this grows more complex across systems managed by different operators.”   Breznick, authored the white paper, which Openet sponsored.

New Audience Measurement Technologies to Collect Complete Usage Data

Unlike conventional ratings reports, new audience measurement technologies enable network operators, programmers and advertisers to calculate and report real-time viewing metrics based on actual pay TV usage.  Instead of relying on small panels or samples of TV viewers, the new methods allow operators to collect and aggregate comprehensive usage viewing data from all viewers by leveraging digital set-top boxes in new and improved ways.

Specifically, these software technologies collect real-time, second-by-second click streams from three basic sources -- real-time viewing (linear broadcast and switched digital video, or SDV), on-demand viewing (VOD and DVRs) and interactive engagements (interactive TV programming, tru2way applications and Embedded TV Binary Interchange Format, or EBIF, features). For instance, an SDV manager can collect the linear broadcast and switched digital tuning data while an EBIF/application server gathers the critical set-top box data and a VOD server would collect all on-demand purchases.

With tools to collect real-time click stream data, network operators can send all the information to data warehouses for storage, reports and analytics. They can send transactional data, such as VOD purchases, to their billing systems for processing, as well as collect and store ad placement data from the ad servers in the data warehouses for reporting and analytics, providing key visibility into the viewership of specific ads.

“Unlike traditional ratings reports, the new audience measurement techniques also track viewing well beyond the traditional TV environment,” said Kelly Anderson, director of MVO solutions for Openet.  “They can not only measure conventional, linear TV viewing, but also on-demand, streaming media, online and mobile video consumption These attributes make the new techniques a crucial element for the emerging three-screen video universe.”.

Payoffs to Operators from New Methods

The adoption of these measurement techniques will allow cable operators to boost their media sales revenue by as much as seven percent each year.

Additionally, operators can use the new audience tracking software tools to recover revenue currently lost to unbilled subscriptions, as well as to track actual viewing on three or more video screens, including TV, PC, mobile phones and other hand-held devices.

“Finally, with these new audience measurement tools, cable operators can work with Canoe Ventures to establish a new centralized viewership database for the entire U.S. cable industry. The establishment of such a centralized cable database would, in turn, likely spur video service providers from the phone and satellite TV industries to do the same,” Breznick concluded.  


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