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Rentrak Redefines Audiences

Rentrak, an emerging player in the quest to provide better measurement for TV viewers, recently said it would use new descriptions for two of its products after consulting with The Media Rating Council – an industry group that monitors and audits ratings-service operations.

Rentrak says its total television service measures more than 13 million “return-path” TV homes and 29 million televisions, provided by a number of multichannel video programming distributors, allowing for reporting in more than 99% of residential Zip codes. By 2015, Rentrak estimates it will have approximately 26 million TV homes and almost 60 million TVs providing viewing data.

There is speculation that some media companies believe the presence of a competitor in the market gives them leverage with Nielsen, which is the dominant source of audience data and whose analytics form the basis of how TV is bought and sold by advertisers and TV networks.

Nielsen, which has long been the industry leader for TV research, still provides the ratings currency upon which national TV advertising is bought and sold. Nielsen collects that data through surveys of a sample of U.S. homes. But broadcasters, which have complained that Nielsen’s numbers understate their true ratings, can use deals Rentrak is putting together to put pressure on Nielsen. Typically when broadcasters hire Rentrak they also keep using Nielsen.

Also appealing about Rentrak is that it offers the ability to tie viewership to consumer buying habits, which can be a great advantage to marketers planning out local ads. Rentrak has struck agreements with cable and satellite providers to collect data from millions of set-top boxes in different markets. It matches that data with other data sets about consumer purchases.

With viewership data beyond age and gender in higher demand, Rentrak says it can offer marketers insights on everything from viewer political affiliation to their likelihood of purchasing a vehicle. Nielsen also has competing consumer research products that match their data with credit card, consumer package good, and automotive purchases.

Experts say that while Nielsen’s survey is unparalleled on a national scale, Rentrak on the local level can provide some marketers and TV companies with additional granularity on consumer habits they cherish. The PM Group utilizes multiple tools to determine the best media solutions for our clients, Rentrak is just one of the tools in our arsenal.

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