TRA Supports Simulmedia Findings Showing Set-Top Box Data are Similar to Nielsen Panels for Large Networks; Wide Differences for Cable Networks

Sep 12, 2011, 17:43 ET from TRA, Inc.

NEW YORK, Sept. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- TRA, Inc., the leader in matching purchase data and media data at the same-household level for consumer packaged goods, pharmaceuticals, and automotive, announced that it is in agreement with findings released today by Simulmedia. Simulmedia demonstrated a close alignment between Nielsen panels and set-top box (STB) data for broadcast networks, a finding that gives the industry confidence in the veracity of STB data for new ad-based businesses. Simulmedia also showed, however, that there are wide differences between Nielsen and STB data for cable networks, a point that further demonstrates the need for large sample sizes and granularity that STB data affords.


TRA analyses are supportive of other findings made by Simulmedia in its Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) webinar on September 12, agreeing:

  • That progress in Internet analytics and use of advanced data applications in general by major companies has leaped ahead of television. It is inevitable that we are now seeing television catch up through use of set-top box data via TV analytics and targeting solutions led by TRA, ratings research services such as Rentrak and TiVo StopWatch, and TV inventory "optimizing resellers" led by Simulmedia.
  • With Simulmedia's thesis that Nielsen will continue to be used alongside new, secondary data sources such as TRA which add the important ROI/purchaser targeting component.
  • Sample size matters for the long tail networks for which Nielsen either has too small a sample or does not provide a rating at all.
  • That old-fashioned practices such as sex/age random ROS (run of schedule) buying (instead of buying specific programs) and considering only CPM, have led to drop-offs in reach, buildups of excessive frequency, and reduced TV ROI.

"As important as set-top box data are, we feel that STB data alone are not a game changer," said Mark Lieberman, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of TRA. "Either they must be matched at the anonymous household level with purchase data as TRA invented, or they must be used by companies such as Simulmedia to unlock the full sales value for the networks."  

"Nielsen's small sample size creates instability and fluctuation in the lower rated environments that impairs the television marketplace for all players." Lieberman added. "This is a serious problem that's solved by the large sample sizes of TRA, enabling better media buys using actual consumer purchase data tied to media. Large sample sizes are being used by Rentrak to deliver more stable TV ratings for local stations and the long tail; by TiVo to provide deeper viewership insights into DVR playback; and by Simulmedia to create more inventory efficiencies."

TRA indicated that its correlation with Nielsen for the top broadcast networks is .93 (where 1.00 would mean the two sets of numbers are identical in their program vs. program audience size relationships). TRA's clients who are also Nielsen clients have completed comparisons involving thousands of programs and demographics and have corroborated these findings. However, despite broad correlations across a vast number of programs, the utility of Nielsen as the only source shrinks as its outmoded sample size collides with fragmentation wherein programs below a rating point now represent 90% of cases.

TRA cited its own research ("TV Set Top Box Data: U.S. Market Structure Report from TRA" White Paper distributed by Jack Myers), which in June 2011 was proven to lift return on media investment according to a client presentation given at the annual ARF Audience Measurement Symposium 6.0 in New York. TRA is activated today by half of the top 100 advertised brands, who use TRA's patented system Media TRAnalytics® in conjunction with Nielsen and program cost data to optimize buys against their ROI-driving purchaser target as opposed to only the traditional sex/age buying target, TRA's strategy now proven to lift TV ROI.

"As I reported jointly with a TRA customer at the June ARF session, we are seeing lifts of 25-35% in TV ROI for brands who use TRA to increasingly select specific programs and not just buy ROS," said Bill Harvey, Co-Founder, Vice Chairman and Chief Research Officer of TRA. "Other clients who use TRA but do not reduce use of ROS are seeing lesser gains. We expect specific program selling and buying to increase over time as this data flows through the marketplace."

About TRA, Inc.

TRA, Inc. ( is a media marketing and analytics software company whose products help advertisers, agencies and television networks improve advertising targeting, accountability and return on media investment. TRA's Media TRAnalytics® is a web-based platform that matches the TV advertising households actually receive with the products the same households actually buy, enabling TRA's clients to find "The Right Audience®" while providing an unmatched level of transparency, measurement, media planning/selling and improved ROI. Licensed users of Media TRAnalytics® include 4 of the top 10 advertisers, 45 of the top 100 brands, as well as the top agencies and networks. TRA's investors include Intel Capital, Kodiak Venture Partners, WPP and Arbitron. TRA is the recipient of the BeyeNETWORK's 2009 Vision Award for Business Impact in Analytics. TRA is certified under ISO 27001, the information security management system standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) designed to ensure security controls for protecting information assets. TRA owns U.S. Patent No. 7,729,940, entitled "Analyzing Return on Investment of Advertising Campaigns by Matching Multiple Data Sources" and U.S. Patent No. 8,000,993, entitled "Using Consumer Purchase Behavior for Television Targeting."

Media Contact:
Kyle Giunta