The Challenges and Opportunities of TV Data Collection

BY: Dan Schiffman, Co-founder

As you may have seen in the headlines, concerns are being raised about the increasingly sophisticated TV data ecosystem. At TVision, we are proud to operate a measurement business that is fully transparent, compliant, and secure. So we thought it timely to share our point of view and approach to data collection.

Understanding Industry Concerns

As connected individuals, we create lots of data in our wake. Data on our views, preferences, consumption - you name it - it’s being logged somewhere. Generally, we don’t love this idea of our every move being tracked, but have become more aware that our data may somehow be used, or even sold.  As this tracking increases beyond our web browser, to rather expensive devices we purchase like our TVs, consumers are understandably concerned.

A recent NY Times article illuminates the business model and measurement technique being used with Smart TV data. In the TV measurement business, we call this “census data” because it measures behavior at scale, typically representing demographics weighted to the US census. SmartTVs know exactly what is being shown on the screen, every second. They know when volume is increased or decreased; or a channel is changed. This provides rich data on a subset of society who has SmartTVs. As prices come down, a larger percentage of TV households will own SmartTVs, leading to this data becoming more representative of the population.

While the “Census” approach provides broad scale that many brands and networks crave to run their business, there is typically a limited trade-off for consumers. Consumers may opt in to being tracked, but have little to gain, and may feel they are giving up data without gaining anything in return. This lack of trade-off can be seen in digital, where products like ad blockers have been adopted by over 80 million people.

In contrast is the “Panel” based approach. Panels can also provide rich, granular TV-level data, but range from as few as 5-10 viewers up to 50,000 households. Even at its largest, this is just a fraction of the scale from census data. However, panel participants are typically compensated for their time, meaning researchers and consumers are likely to work together under clear pretenses.

While we believe both approaches can be useful, TVision is focused on the “Panel” approach, for which our unique method is explained below in detail. However, as an industry, we need to work to make the “Census” model safe for the collective benefit of viewers, brands, and networks alike. For brands and networks alike to continue optimizing their content for changing viewing habits - granular data at scale is necessary

How TVision is Different

The demand for first-party, passive TV attention data is incredible. To serve these industry needs, TVision maintains an in-home panel - which is privacy-safe and 100% opt-in.

Every individual we collect data from is a participant who signed a contract and is compensated for their participation in our measurement service. In nearly all cases, one of our team members has met, in-person, with a member of the household to explain our technology and how our data is used. We are compliant with all state and federal laws and meet best practices in market research.

Going forward

At TVision, privacy and security are of the utmost importance to us. Top brands and networks rely on TVision to go beyond ratings and increase advertising effectiveness.

We hope the additional scrutiny of TV data collection methods results in a more transparent exchange of value, from consumer to data company. This will benefit consumers, TV manufacturers, data companies like TVision and the measurement industry as a whole.

TV and CTV Attention Report
The TV and CTV Attention Report