CIMM Smart TV, STB data best practices study  

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The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) – an industry body that aims to promote innovation and foster efficiencies in audience measurement for television and cross-platform video – is launching a new study with advertising research specialist Pre-Meditated Media and attribution, advertising, and data provider Janus Strategy & Insights to develop best practices in the emerging approach to building large scale, granular data sets to measure all forms of TV viewing by combining the anonymous viewing data from both Smart TVs and set-top boxes (STBs) in privacy-compliant ways.

Smart TV data can not only provide a broad footprint of data spread geographically across the country, but it can also help to refine the edit rules used for STB data. On the other hand, STB data provides a fuller picture of TV tuning for the majority of TV sets in a household.

The combined datasets still lack data on the viewing of broadcast networks in homes without either broadband access or pay TV subscriptions – so called ‘over-the-air’ (OTA) households. However, the combination comes closer to providing data on the majority of US households, which can then be further calibrated to provide the OTA viewing via more traditional panel methodology. Additionally, panels are still required to understand who is in front of the TV set, and how many people (co-viewing). Through this study, CIMM hopes to bring further transparency and industry confidence in using these new hybrid (data + panel) approaches to TV measurement that are gaining acceptance.

The study will be conducted in two phases:

Phase 1 – Review of ACR and STB Providers available in market, including sample size, data captured and reported, data processing rules and availability through expert interviews with providers and aggregators to identify implications for next steps

Phase 2 – Review of Existing Methods Used to Integrate ACR and STB Providers to learn about best practices and potential obstacles through expert interviews with companies currently integrating these data sets to identify specific design recommendations for creating an integrated reporting system

“STB data are currently being made available to some media measurement vendors (and also to audience-based planning and buying platforms); however, none of the vendors analysing such data have a nationally representative footprint,” notes Jane Clarke, managing director and CEO, CIMM. “This study aims to examine how Smart TV data can complement STB data to increase the value of the combined datasets.”

“Smart TVs can report viewing data in near real time, but the ACR data collected don’t represent all TV sets in the average home,” explains Gerard Broussard, principal, Pre- Meditated Media. “STB data are sourced from a much larger household footprint than Smart TVs, however, calibrating the STB signals to viewing metrics and matching programme names adds more time to the reporting process. We hope to find how, perhaps by combining the data, there might be a better solution for releasing more accurate tuning data on a timely basis.”

“Our goal is to provide the industry with an understanding on how to leverage Smart TV and STB data together, not only helping to improve data quality within a household, but to create a blueprint for more nationally representative, deterministic TV viewing datasets that can be used for cross-platform planning, activation and measurement,” adds Howard Shimmel, president, Janus Strategy & Insights.

Results of the study will be identified in a report to be released later in 2020.


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