Dubbed a visionary by many of his colleagues, Bill Harvey has helped spur the communications industry to a number of positive changes involving information and new technologies for over 3 decades. We had the chance to speak with Bill Harvey to get his perspective on the future of audience measurement.
VA: Do you feel that the media measurement industry should take radical steps to induce change, given the regulatory (laws, privacy) and business environments (customer expectations)? In which ways the vendors should re-invent themselves, or consider new business models, methodologies, business philosophies, or partnerships?
BH: Realistically, that is not going to happen. ARF acquiring CIMM is pretty rad by industry standards and certainly a great step. A not so radical step is that the industry should tell its story to the Hill as to why the privacy protection best practices followed by TRA, Experian, and many others is the best solution for business and consumers both.
VA: Many people are talking about big data, programmatic environments, and it seems to be all about scale and volume. What do you think about the role of panel-based measurement, samples, surveys, and other methods of data collection in the future.. which are not necessarily about volume or scale at all? Is there a place for them to continue, and in which ways?
BH: The best way is integrated with deterministic big data as a representative (weighted) subset. Focus on brand communication and “WHY do you buy or not buy X”.
VA: A bulk of revenues in media measurement in the US, 10 years ago, was attributed to TV and radio measurement. We have now seen countless companies emerging who attempt to measure audiences from different angles and with different approaches? What is your take on the continuity with TV and radio measurement, and to which direction are they evolving? Do you think we will still see in the future siloed and platform-specific approaches/focus in media measurement, or are we going to see perhaps one or many credible approaches focused on bringing the platforms together (cross-platform measurement)? If yes, why has this not happened yet, as we have heard about Nielsen and ComScore taking this step for almost 10 years already (the first talk about this happened late last decade at the ARF in NYC)?
BH: Nielsen knows how to do it technically, but has not offered the solution the networks want, namely, to be compensated for the data they are expected to contribute on OTT. ComScore has lacked sufficient know-how and has not acquired it. TV and radio will evolve via initiatives like ATSC 3.0 but will probably stick with Nielsen for the foreseeable future. There is room for others at the right price and with the right complementary solution sets.
VA: If you were to build a new market research company now, without any legacy burdens, no other commitments, and funding of 50m USD, what would be your chosen direction/path/product?
BH: The TRA/Next Century Media model, where big data suppliers pool their data and get a cut of the revenues based on sample size contributed. Some suppliers, e.g. ATT, will not do this if it involves sending their data out of the firewall. I have a solution for this but it is a trade secret.
Founder/Chairman at Research Measurement Technologies, Inc.