Speaking at the Advertising Research Foundation's Audience Measurement 4.0 conference in New York, George Shababb said that existing methods should evolve beyond defining audience size and should provide "granular insight" into viewers and their behaviour using information available through return path data (RPD) from set-top cable boxes.
He argued that as the goal is to eventually integrate measurement across on and offline media, it is inconsistent to continue to define television audience measurement in terms of just reach and delivery -- adding that audience measurement of digital media, such as TNS's Compete service, can provide greater insight and understanding into behaviour.
Shababb said: "The ratings system sufficed as a measure of the television audience when the only real data available was metrics on size and reach, but technology has evolved to enable measurement of the entire spectrum of live and time-shifted audience viewing behaviours at a second-by-second level with granular insight into audience behaviour such as commercial avoidance, creative wear-out level and audience flow.
"How we define audience measurement should evolve accordingly to reflect the metrics now available to us."
Shababb presented two research briefs as examples of how advanced analytics can utilise RPD from set-top boxes.
One showed that attention to an advertisement decreased with increased audience exposure.
The other demonstrated the differences in behaviour amongst different cultural groups.
The research briefs were based on RPD from Charter Los Angeles, which measured second-by-second tuning of over 420,000 sets in approximately 270,000 homes.