Ad measurement was far simpler in the three network, pre-internet days, but that simplicity isn’t coming back. Ad currencies are fragmented and third-party verification is the rule.
Addressing an industry crowd at the recent Beet.tv Executive Retreat, Gian Fulgoni, executive chairman and co-founder of ComScore, said that today’s fragmented viewing landscape makes that kind of simplicity unobtainable.
“If you look at the way that television content is being viewed today, it’s fragmented in a way that we’ve never seen before. I think what we’re seeing is that the databases and the design of the databases that worked back in the simpler day when there were three networks just doesn’t cut it today,” Fulgoni said.
Today, the publishers doing the selling provide the viewing numbers that determine price. That’s a change, and those numbers require third-party verification.
“If you look on what basis you’re paying for the ads that are run in digital, it’s really on the basis of whatever that website is delivering for you.. So you are relying, in a sense, on the seller of the ad inventory providing some data that is then used as the basis for the buying and selling. That’s very different from the historical television model,” Fulgoni said.
The big measurement companies now work with set-top box companies to get viewing data, and that data also needs verification.
“With set-top box data, we’re just going to the next phase, which is that the set-top box owners, if you will, are providing the data to third-party companies, whether that be us or Rentrak or Nielsen, and we are doing some verification of that data,” Fulgoni said. “In a cross-platform world…there’s no way you can run these databases any other way” than using third-party verification.
“You just can’t rely today on that third-party’s own datasets. You have to combine it with other data. This has been going on in digital now for quite some time.” Digital will soon be bigger than TV, Fulgoni noted. “We’ve got a massive amount of spending that’s occurring on the basis of very different buy/sell databases than we’ve been using in the past.”
Scroll down for the full panel discussion (used with permission from Beet.tv), which got a little testy at times.