SymphonyAM is on the VideoPulse of Measurement

SymphonyAM recently announced the launch of their new measurement platform called VideoPulse which they tout as “the first single source TV multi-platform measurement service for advertisers, agencies and media companies capturing in-depth insights into consumer media usage in real-time from over-the-top (OTT), video-on-demand (VOD), digital video audiences (Web, app, and gaming devices), DVR and linear TV.”

Interested in the potential measurement possibilities in this service, I attended their breakfast presentation in New York. “Measurement has not kept up,” stated Charles Buchwalter, President and CEO of SymphonyAM, “and our mission at SymphonyAM is to “build analytics, data and software.”
Measurement challenges are manifold. According to NBCU President of Research and Media Development Alan Wurtzel, “We are not getting measured accurately and are losing the ability to monetize. We lose between 15 and 35 percent of viewers who are viewing on an alternative platform and not being measured.” Colleen Fahey-Rush EVP and Chief Research Officer for Viacom Media Networks added “We measure what has hit the TV glass but none of that consumption is making its way to understand performance.”

Practically speaking, according to Wurtzel, “The industry used to using the current currency. Measuring is hard and getting harder. The industry is looking for alternative solution if we can get it today.” Fahey-Rush noted that “the trick is just not getting not the media companies together but the agencies as well. Get a dialogue going.”

I asked Charles Buchwalter a series of questions to get more insight into VideoPulse.

CW: How long have you been developing VideoPulse?

CB: We’ve been developing our MediaPulse Analytic Platform over 3 years, and based on client feedback, one year ago we were able to fine-tune our focus on four key product areas: AdPulse (cross media ad and sponsorship effectiveness), ConsumerPulse (cross media consumer segmentation), GeoPulse (linking cross media exposure to retail visitation) and VideoPulse (total TV/Video audience tracking with particular focus on exposure beyond the current currency). SymphonyAM has been intensely focused on VideoPulse throughout 2015 and we just had our official launch this month.

CW: Who are the customers for this service and how can they maximize its value?

CB: VideoPulse will be leveraged across media companies, advertisers and agencies with unique benefits to each party. Media companies, including broadcast and cable firms will be able to monetize assets that previously haven’t been measured. Advertisers will benefit through close-to-real-time optimization of media plans and more effectively reaching target consumers. Agencies will be able to more accurately support the cross media needs of their advertiser clients.

CW: How many datasets do you include?

CB: The technology serving as the basis of VideoPulse tracks live and same day TV, VOD to 3 days, DVR to 7 days, VOD beyond 3 days, DVR beyond 7 days and OTT exposure across TV, laptop, tablet and mobile. The same technology tracks consumers’ online usage, all app usage, social, cinema and radio, allowing for understanding a complete “media day-in-the-life” of numerous demos.

CW: Any unexpected insights from the data and if so what can you share?

CB: As the data generated by VideoPulse haven’t been seen before, there is no shortage of insights. For example, 25% of millennials’ TV/video usage is beyond Live+7, and can be considerably higher depending on the particular program/episode being viewed. Also, viewers streaming originals such as Orange Is The New Black watched 23% less other programming during the week of the Season 3 release (week of June 8), but viewership of other programming bounced back to normal levels after three weeks’ time. An area we’ll be watching carefully is the interplay between linear and non-linear viewership: what are examples of consumers who are increasingly viewing on non-linear platforms re-engaging with broadcast programming?

CW: VOD beyond three days is capped at what point? Do you monitor to 30 days?

CB: As of now we are going to 35 days.

CW: What TV data are you using...are you using Nielsen data for TV or STB data?

CB: We do not use Nielsen or any STB data. All of the TV data we use comes from our own application which uses an audio-matching capability via automatic content recognition (ACR) to identify what people are watching live, delayed or via OTT. Any video content that is viewed on portable devices is monitored via clickstream.

CW: Over the development phase of three years did you have to change or modify your specs as the landscape changed? 

CB: No. Our technology decisions of three years ago, i.e. mobile devices will be the media meters of the future and everything we do will be passive and single-source, have allowed us to keep apace of the dynamic changes occurring re: consumer media behavior. 

CW: How do you plan to keep up with change?  

CB: One of the great things about being a startup is that we can be very nimble, and can respond quickly to requests made by our clients. We have an off-shore development team that enables efficiency and speed-to-market. Our management team is focused on being responsive to the needs of our clients in the context of significant industry developments. 

CW: What if any challenges did you face? Do you currently face? And how do you overcome them?
CB: We are very proud of our 15,000 person mobile-device panel which continues to be unique in the market. But we know it must grow, and are seeking to get to 25,000 as soon as possible, and to 50,000 by this time next year. Partnering with the right companies will help us extend the robustness of our coverage.

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