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TiVo to Sell TV Viewer Data

20 Apr, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

What ads are TV viewers watching and not watching in local and national markets?

TiVo April 20 said it intends to sell advertisers and marketers the answers to those questions in a manner more precise than currently available from industry stalwart Nielsen Co.

The Alviso, Calif.-based digital video recording pioneer announced the service, called Stop Watch Local Markets, which provides anonymous, second-by-second ratings data for programs and commercials airing in local U.S. markets, at the National Broadcasters Association confab going on through April 23 in Las Vegas.

The technology accommodates anonymous monitoring of DVR viewing behavior and commercial fast-forwarding of both live and recorded programming.

With local TV advertising revenue plummeting due to the recession and changing viewing habits (including migration to the Internet and time-shifting content), marketers have sought more exact data in an effort to justify ad spends.

“The dearth of information on television audiences in local markets, especially for specific commercial viewership, is astonishing in this day and age,” said Todd Juenger, VP and GM, TiVo audience research and measurement.

Steve Ridge with Frank N. Magid Associates told Fox Business there are serious issues regarding how TV audience measurement is being done as it relates to incorporating cable. He said the current Nielsen method, which involves small sample sizes as small as 900 households and antiquated viewer diaries in smaller markets, has a high degree of false positives.

At the same time, Ridge said TiVo’s base of 25,000 subscribers in the Top 20 markets is not necessarily reflective of a national viewing trend. It is, however, a step in that direction, he said.

“They will be able to measure a larger cumulative number and look at it on a second-by-second basis,” Ridge said. “It’s not the be-all, end-all in terms of advertising competition to Nielsen, but it is definitely going to bring a new perspective and a new challenge to the business.”

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