comScore, TVision aim to set audience measurement on course

Netflix living room couple
Image: Netflix

Audience measurement, like online advertising, has suffered from plenty of growing pains over the past few years, with providers struggling to define consistent metrics and reduce problems such as click fraud. But the recent wins chalked up separately by comScore and TVision show that progress is being made on this front.

This week, audience measurement firm comScore announced it received accreditation from the Media Rating Council for Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT) detection, meaning it offers content and campaign measurement that filters out fraudulent mobile and web traffic to give advertisers more accurate results.

ComScore said it’s the first measurement provider to achieve SIVT accreditation for both content and campaign measurement from the MRC, an organization formed in the 1960s that audits measurement of all types of media, including cross-platform – comScore’s niche service. Nielsen services, for example, are accredited by MRC, as is Canoe Ventures’ Dynamic Ad Insertion measurement of served impressions.

Accreditation affects a number of its services to which its invalid traffic detection methodology applies. That includes its Media Metrix, comScore Direct and Validated Campaign Essentials offerings.

RELATED: Adobe, comScore collaborate on cross-platform audience measurement

MRC’s accreditation isn’t a blanket approval for audience measurement firms, though. The group audits individual services within a firm’s offerings and accredits each one separately. That’s why those visiting MRC’s review and approval page will see a large number of internet-focused vendors listed – for example, Adobe Systems has accreditation, but just for its Primetime Ad Decisioning Platform, and specifically for serving video ad impressions.

Meanwhile, a Boston-based startup called TVision Insights closed a Series A $6.8 million funding round, bringing its total funding to $9.3 million, BostInno reported. The company is making a compelling claim that it can track not just user actions while watching television or streaming online – such as when they turn the TV on or off – but can also figure out whether they’re paying attention to a program, doing something else, or leaving the room. That makes it possible, co-founder and CRO Dan Schiffman said, to even track viewer behavior while watching SVOD services such as Netflix.

Figuring out Netflix’s actual viewing audience size and their viewing behaviors is kind of the holy grail of audience measurement. Nielsen, for example, attempted to track Netflix (and Amazon) use by monitoring requests for content made over the public internet, between CDNs and last-mile networks run by ISPs.

TVision uses eye-tracking technology and machine vision to detect when someone is watching TV or not paying attention to the screen. Like other audience measurement firms, the company places its device in participating households for one year, sending a monthly payment to those participants.

To track Netflix or Hulu use, the device uses listening technology similar to Shazam that picks up sound coming from a TV set and compares it to a database to determine if the user is watching an SVOD service.

While that’s not a perfect way to figure out Netflix viewer behaviors, it may be better than the current alternatives out there. Time, and an increased sampling size – TVision devices are installed in about 7,000 homes nationwide so far – will tell.