July 17, 2012
The television analytics company TiVo is expected to announce on Tuesday that it has acquired full ownership in TRA, a research company that has found success in recent years with a system that matches up television viewing with consumer buying habits.
Though the deal is modest compared with most recent media deals - TiVo will spend about $20 million to buy out other investors in TRA - the prospects for the television industry are considerable, said Tom Rogers, the president of TiVo. "We believe television is at an inflection point," Mr. Rogers said. "In the digital realm you measure click by click and get increasingly granular information. This kind of metric has not developed well in the television space before now."
That metric makes it possible for advertisers to tell which networks are most effective at selling beer or cookies, and even which specific television shows are best at selling specific cars. TRA acquires this data by collecting information from 1.5 million set-top cable boxes and matching the viewers (anonymously) with information gleaned from "loyalty cards" presented at supermarkets, as well as with other measurements, like car-registration information. TRA has signed numerous clients in its five years of existence, including 27 cable and broadcast networks and 45 different advertising brands. Some, including Mars candy bars and Kraft's Oscar Mayer brand, have offered testimonials to the effectiveness of the information gathered by TRA.
CBS, an early client, has been especially supportive. That network's chief research officer, David F. Poltrack, praised the acquisition Monday, citing the effectiveness of TRA data in demonstrating increased accountability in television advertising. CBS has long fought the 50-year-old system of ad-selling on television, which is almost entirely based on the demographic performance of specific shows: success among viewers between the ages of 18 and 49 remains the gold standard of television. The network, although now competitive in that 18-49 age measure, historically has fared less well in that group. In past years, CBS has argued that it is more important to determine whether a show is generating sales for advertisers than whether it simply has a large group of younger people watching.
Mark Lieberman, the chairman of TRA (he will continue in that role after the acquisition), pointed to one study the company did based on sales of shampoo. Four cable networks were measured. One, MTV, had by far the biggest sales to shampoo advertisers, based on its young audience. But a cable network with a much older audience, TNT, had more than twice as many shampoo-buyers watching its shows. Plans for extensive expansion of TRA's operations will be enhanced, Mr. Lieberman said, by the alliance with TiVo, which has a large store of capital - as much as $600 million, Mr. Rogers noted, from patent litigation based on its original invention of the digital video recorder. Both Mr. Rogers and Mr. Lieberman described the TRA data as complementary to the traditional Nielsen ratings. But Mr. Rogers pointed to the potential to go far beyond that basic information for advertisers and networks. "It gets away from the assumption of what broad demographics do and brings it down to the reality of what actual people do," Mr. Rogers said. New York Times
Fallout from the state's new voter ID law now has touched state employees who plan to use their commonwealth-issued badges for voting. The state Department of General Services notified employees last week that their badges will need to be modified to include an expiration date to make them acceptable for use to vote, department spokesman Troy Thompson said. Each modification costs the commonwealth 91 cents, he said. Employees are not charged. As of Monday morning, 39 employees had gotten the modified badges that bear a five-year expiration date from the day it is issued.
Until now, there was no need to place an expiration date on the badges since employees are forced to turn them in when they leave commonwealth employment, Thompson said. State officials anticipate most of the 80,000-plus state workers will have another acceptable form of ID and won't need to modify their employee badge. The new voter ID law, which has drawn at least two lawsuits and ample criticism, requires voters to show a photo ID to vote, starting with Election Day, Nov. 6. Harrisburg Patriot-News
UniTek Global Services Inc., a Blue Bell provider of services to companies in the telecommunications, broadband cable, wireless and other industries, said in a statement that Rocky Romanella had been named chief executive officer, effective this Wednesday. He had spend his career at United Parcel Service, including as president of retail and residential operations. Philadelphia Inquirer
- Philadelphia Inquirer: Comcast takes over MSNBC.com; content will reflect cable channel MSNBC
- USA Today: Yahoo gets new CEO: Well-respected Google exec Marissa Mayer
- Bloomberg: Google+ nabs top spot in customer satisfaction survey; Facebook falls
- Philadelphia Inquirer: Woman's ordeal shows voter-ID pitfalls
- Associated Press: Mitt Romney to campaign in Pennsylvania, could pick running mate this week