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Media and Audience Measurement Across Multiple Screens: CIMM Tries to Lead the Fray

A consortium of at least 14 big name companies that are leading television content providers, advertising agencies, consumer products and goods companies and network service providers primarily has formed what is initially called the “Coalition for Innovative Media Management – CIMM”. Prominent within the grouping includes company names like Time Warner, ABC/ESPN/Disney, Interpublic Group, News Corporation, Viacom, Starcom MediaVest Group, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, AT&T, WPP/GroupM, CBS Paramount, Omnicom Media Group, NBC Universal and Discovery Communications. The announced mission of the consortium is to explore and identify new approaches and methodologies for delivering accurate audience measurement across multiple platforms – the three-screen current day mantra. More specifically they will begin with a series of pilot studies working with “independent measurement companies” with particular focus on one area: set-top-box data, and more generally cross-platform media measurement. One million dollars is the first year’s funding, and that figure should grow each year.

This announcement is coincident with the growing ranks of new measurement companies, comScore prominent amongst them, that are in business to compete with the ratings giant Nielsen. In fact some think that the additional coincidence of the CIMM announcement occurring within days of Nielsen’s announcement of tracking Internet “viewing” (videos presumably) in households with “people meters” wouldn’t be ready till 2011 is no coincidence. There are multiple other entities that are expected to at least play a role in supporting the consortium and benefit themselves as a result. One stand out might be Microsoft’s acquired company Navic. CIMM membership is also open to technology vendors, and there is a standing invitation for Nielsen to join. For all the sensationalism surrounding that announcement and potential impacts to Nielsen, one principal of the consortium stated “CIMM isn’t looking to develop a commercial measurement platform that would compete with the likes of Nielsen”. Surely any standards, best practices and new methodologies that result will change audience measurement going forward in some manner that will shake up what has been a near monopoly by Nielsen in the past.

One thing the consortium will need to continue addressing is the consumer privacy issues that plague any addressable and targeted advertising objectives that are planned by the various ecosystem participants. Vendors and service providers continue to promote opt-in/opt-out as the silver bullet in addressing privacy, while industries generally move away from the basic tenet of the recent advertising and marketing pillar of providing relevant advertising and marketing through contextual placement and campaigns. Can this be done without all of the sophisticated tools and processes that has become a cottage industry? Some out there believe so. Others believe it isn’t just about advertising revenues, and is more about users’ quality of experience and by-products of responsible and satisfied consumerism. Products and services purchasing may follow naturally.

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