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CIMM: Ready, Set-Top, Go?

11/14/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

It's too early to determine whether the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement should specify standards for how set-top box data is collected and described, said MTV Networks executive vice president of strategic insights and research Colleen Fahey Rush.

Representatives from the 15 members of CIMM — a group of media companies, ad agencies and advertisers formed this summer — met last Tuesday (Nov. 10) with Nielsen, Rentrak, TiVo, TRA and TNS Media Research to discuss working with CIMM. Each of the vendors signed nondisclosure agreements as a condition of participation.

The series of all-day, closed-door meetings took place at MTVN's offices in midtown Manhattan. “We started at 9, ended at 4, and stayed on to discuss things,” said Rush, who is Viacom's representative to CIMM.

The vendor meetings were “very productive” and it was “very helpful to be able to sit down and talk face-to-face,” she added. “We feel like we have terrific momentum.”

However, the CIMM board members didn't have as long to analyze the presentations as they wanted, Rush said. The group will reconvene before Thanksgiving to go over the meeting materials.

The top issues CIMM is hashing out now include how to compile data from a large number of set-tops and how to normalize that data. Rush reiterated that the coalition's request for proposals from set-top box data providers is “not looking at a winner-takes-all scenario” that would fund only one approach.

Analyzing TV viewing based on set-top data holds considerable promise compared with the Nielsen panel-based ratings that currently form the basis for how television advertising is bought and sold, by providing a greater level of detail from a potentially much larger universe of viewers (see “Thinking Inside the Box,” June 15). But it's not a silver bullet: today, there's no standard format for such data, while some older models of set-tops can't capture the necessary information. In addition, set-top box data cannot determine whether someone is actually watching the TV at a given time.

The founders of CIMM, which formally launched in September, intend to foster the development of advanced forms of TV advertising measurement, with two initial areas of focus: set-top box data and cross-platform viewing.

The coalition's members are: CBS, Discovery Communications, NBC Universal, News Corp., Time Warner Inc., Viacom, The Walt Disney Co., GroupM, Mediabrands, Omnicom Media Group, Starcom MediaVest Group Worldwide, Carat, AT&T, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

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