We sat down with Media Insights & Engagement speaker Howard Shimmel who is also the Chief Research Officer at Turner Broadcasting, to discuss how the media industry is being disrupted.
What is the state of the media research industry in 2017?
Shimmel: We are in a state of flux. The good part is that through our ability to leverage first party data and the analytical skills of our data scientists, our tool kit continues to get bigger. The bad part is that we’re struggling with audience measurement keeping up with how fans are consuming our content. In spite of the efforts of comScore and Nielsen, we still don’t have workable cross-platform measurement. And we still don’t have measurement of new distribution platforms like virtual MVPDs, even in terms of accurate measure of subscription and where virtual MVPDs are sourcing subscribers from.
What have been the biggest changes in the industry since you started your career?
Shimmel: The industry couldn’t be more different. I started my career with an abacus on my desk (not really, a calculator), about 4 cable networks and no Internet. Now we have digital, social, first party data, neuroscience, integrated databases with media consumption and product consumption that allow you to measure ROI, etc. We’ve needed to become nimbler and more sophisticated analytically, while needing to be way more thoughtful that we utilize the right tool in our tool kit to solve problems.
What is the biggest challenge in the media industry today?
Shimmel: A major challenge is moving from a world where we had one currency that accounted for most transactions to now selling against a specific audience on all screens. We initially had a program rating, then moved to C3 in 2007, with some expansion to C7 in the last couple of years. We also mainly transacted based on a handful of age and sex demographics. We had one distribution platform for content on the big screen TV - linear TV.
Now, we’re moving to a world where Turner can sell an advertiser a show like “Samantha Bee” in numerous forms, like linear TV, VOD, addressable TV, desktop and mobile. We can sell on age and sex demos, or we can sell against audiences, using sources like Catalina, MRI, client first party data or agency proprietary data. We need each of these platforms measured individually, and need them measured together so we can craft the optimal cross-platform plan for our advertiser partners.
Another challenge is that from a market tracking/consumer insights perspective, we’ve never had more dark space in terms of what we can’t directly measure. Nielsen doesn’t measure Netflix or other SVOD services or other video services that are migrating to the big screen- like Crackle. It’s made the job of tracking audiences very challenging.
Where do you see media research moving in 5 years?
Shimmel: In five years, I hope we have a robust cross-platform measurement service, one that solves for consumer insights and cross-platform selling needs. I hope that the industry supported the expansion of that service beyond measuring cross-platform exposure to measuring outcomes- sales, brand awareness and purchase intent. Turner is doing a material amount of deals where we’ve guaranteed and delivered against some outcome measurement.
We’ve also successfully integrated first party data with syndicated audience measurement into a complete customer data stack, and build intuitive analytical tools to help us easily find insights from that data. And we have better analytical tools on our desktops to allow us to be more precise about reporting change and the drivers of those changes.