CRE Newsletter

CRE Newsletter

April 2017

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Letter from the Chair

Billy McDowellIn this month's edition of CRE Newsletter we present a "CRE Spotlight" salute to one of the deans of media research, Artie Bulgrin of ESPN. Artie, who announced recently that he will retire in May, was kind enough to take time to answer some questions and reflect on his career and the media research profession. I hope you enjoy the interview and join me in wishing Artie an enjoyable and fulfilling retirement.

Also this month, we announce plans to host a webinar for Nielsen clients for review of our neuroscience-based study, "The Mind of the Viewer." We also share details of our initial stage of planning for a "Futures" event that will address where the media industry is heading and how research will need to adapt, and we unveil plans to launch a diversity initiative.

Last but certainly not least, I would like to welcome our newest Council member, Dan McDonald from the National Association of Broadcasters.

Billy McDowell Vice President, Research Raycom Media Chair, Council for Research Excellence

Latest News

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Latest News

CRE to Present Neuro Study Findings in Webinar for Nielsen Clients Expand

The CRE is planning a webinar for Nielsen clients to review findings from the second of a two-phased neuroscience-based study designed to better understand how consumers view television programming and advertising in a multi-platform world. The in-home phase of “The Mind of the Viewer” reinforces that networks and brands have opportunities to engage with viewers but that it’s important to understand how different types of distractions compete for viewer attention.

The study reported findings in three areas: General Viewing Environment, Impact of Second Screen, and the Impact of Co-Viewing.

In this naturalistic study, viewers were distracted nearly 48% of the time while the TV was on, whether by gazing at a second screen or engaging in other activities. Importantly, the second screen was the predominant competitor for viewer attention, accounting for nearly half of all distractions. Interestingly, the presence of a second screen minimized the incidence of channel changing while the presence of a co-viewer not only reduced the amount of time spent on second-screen devices, it also increased emotional response while ads were on the TV by more than 25%.

Complete findings will be reviewed in the webinar by Nielsen's Dr. Carl Marci, EVP and Chief Neuroscientist, and Naomi Nuta, VP Client Services. The study was led by Howard Shimmel, Chief Research Officer, Turner Broadcasting System and Chair of the CRE's Neurometrics Committee, and Beth Rockwood, VP, Portfolio Research and Chief of Staff at Turner and Vice Chair of the CRE committee. Research was conducted by a Nielsen team led by Marci.

If you are a Nielsen client please watch for an invitation.

Neuro Study to be Discussed at Nielsen Expand

In addition to a CRE webinar on the neuroscience study (see previous story), the study will be discussed by Nielsen in a meeting at their corporate headquarters in Oldsmar, FL on April 6. The session will focus on the study's results and implications for television and cross-platform measurement.

Participating either in person or by phone will be representatives from Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience and Nielsen Data Science, along with members of the CRE's Neurometrics Committee.

CRE Plans 'Futures' Event Expand

CRE members met on March 23 to begin laying the groundwork for a "Futures" event that will explore where media and technology are heading and how audience measurement will need to adapt. The event likely will be held in late August/early September in New York.

Topics under consideration include:

  • Advanced TV targeting
  • Addressability
  • Programmatic buying
  • Virtual and augmented reality applications
  • The Internet of Things
  • Contextual relevancy of content
  • Stitching together data sets
  • ROI and measuring outcomes
  • The switch from linear to digital
  • Over-the-top delivery
  • Connected TVs
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Enabling technology
  • Consumer issues relative to privacy considerations as well as panel participation

The topic list will be refined in future planning meetings.

The CRE will host a series of webinars leading up to the event. Each webinar will take a deep dive into a particular issue related to the future of media.

The event and webinars will feature guest speakers representing various stakeholders, including brands, ad agencies and media researchers. It is anticipated that the sessions will generate ideas for future CRE research projects and white papers.

Additional details will be shared as they become available.

CRE Seeks Volunteers, Recommendations for Diversity Initiative Expand

The CRE is launching an initiative to diversify its membership ranks and is seeking volunteers to participate in the effort, which is being spearheaded by Annette Malave, SVP, Insights, Radio Advertising Bureau.

Malave said, "Awareness of diversity has always been both a personal and professional passion. I am excited to be heading this committee. While current CRE membership is gender diverse, the committee will focus on increasing that diversity to age, race and language."

In addition, the CRE welcomes recommendations from Nielsen clients on minority "rising star" candidates to serve on various CRE committees.

To learn more, please write to

CRE Reactivates Education Committee, Seeks Additional Members Expand

The CRE has reactivated its Education Committee and is seeking members. The Committee's primary purpose is to develop training programs that can benefit media research professionals in their careers. The re-launch of the committee was discussed at the CRE's Q1 member meeting, and the following Council members volunteered to serve: Pete Doe, Chief Research Officer, clypd; Janet Gallent, SVP, Strategic & Primary Research, NBC Universal; Buzz Knight, VP Programming, Beasley Media Group; and Annette Malave, SVP, Insights, Radio Advertising Bureau.

If you are a Nielsen client and would like to learn more about serving on this committee, please send a note to

Dan McDonald of NAB Elected to Council Expand

Dan McDonald, VP, Research for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), was voted onto the Council at the CRE's Q1 member meeting on March 23 in New York.

In his role at the NAB, McDonald oversees the provision of data and analyses to support the group's advocacy initiatives and public policy objectives, monitors developments in media measurement practices and methodologies, conducts surveys and compiles pertinent data that can be used by NAB members.

Before joining the NAB in 2016, McDonald served as Executive Director of Programming and Consumer Research for the National Geographic Channels. He also held research positions at WBBM-TV in Chicago and Comcast Spotlight.

In other Q1 member meeting news, Ann Casey, Corporate Director of Research, Weigel Broadcasting, was voted as CRE Secretary. Casey also serves as Chair of the CRE's Communications Committee.

Debbie Reichig, SVP Media Research, 20th Television, was voted onto the CRE's Steering Committee.

CRE Spotlight: Artie Bulgrin, SVP Global Research & Analytics, ESPN Expand

Artie BulgrinYou recently announced that you will be retiring in May so perhaps this is a good time to reflect. What are the most significant changes you've seen in audience measurement during your 30+ years in research?

Certainly Nielsen’s move to the people meter in 1987 was a significant innovation that has lasted 30 years – so far. Later, the creation of Nielsen’s AP meter was an innovation that we take for granted - it ultimately gave Nielsen the ability to measure whatever was on the glass, regardless of source. It was the first form of ACR technology and is enabling part of Nielsen’s TCR measurement today.

The move away from pure, panel-based measurement to hybrid solutions with demographic modeling is finally getting us where we need to be. This is about combining the truth and depth of probability panels with the granularity and connectivity of big data. The work we did with comScore and Arbitron in 2012 to create Project Blueprint is a good example of this.

Finally, I have been quoted as saying, “measurement is now a team sport.” The future of measurement - especially across platforms - now depends on the collaboration and cooperation between vendor, client and even third parties. This is both an opportunity and a challenge.

On a personal level, what accomplishments are you most proud of as you look back on your career?

First and foremost, I am most proud of the team and organization that I have built these last 21 years. When I started in 1996, we were two people. Today we have about 60 people that cover every aspect of research and analytics for ESPN’s business around the world. We grew as an organization because we were able to impact the growth of ESPN as a media business and consumer brand through sound insights and intelligence. At the heart of this is effective communication and my team excels at that. Informing is one thing, but our goal is to inspire.

I am also proud of the influence we have had on the industry in the U.S. and around the world as thought leaders, particularly in the areas of cross-platform measurement and the use of lab-based research. Innovation has always been central to our approach and I am confident that will continue long after me.

More than most networks, ESPN has significant viewership out-of-home. Please tell us a bit about the challenges you faced -- and perhaps continue to face -- with regard to measuring this audience.

Our work in out of home measurement for ESPN began in 1997 with Nielsen. In 2002, we developed our own total TV measurement service called the Total TV Audience Monitor, or T-TAM for short. We learned a lot and made some progress, but ultimately it was not sustainable. The main issue with both Nielsen and T-TAM was that these were special diary-based services and could not easily be used as currency.

For about a year now we have been using Nielsen’s out-of-home solution using the PPM, and the results are much better. Most of 2016 was spent educating our clients on the methodology and the value of the audience. The reaction so far has been very positive. This service is much more of a currency and can easily be used to transact on. As a result, clients are now open to treating this as real audience and we have had some early success with client investment. Nielsen is now introducing their syndicated service in April and that transparency will make the data more useful and improve our ability to monetize this long unmeasured audience.

You worked at Nielsen throughout most of the 1980s. Just to put things in perspective, what were the big issues Nielsen was grappling with at that time?

This was the era of the meter, especially in the local area where I worked. Local metered market expansion was a big deal at the time. I was fortunate to get in on the ground floor of a new area charged with using PCs to process the new overnight data which was downloaded over phone lines. Remember, this was a time when we were competing with Arbitron and so these services were a key competitive difference.

This was also the period when Nielsen was a Dun & Bradstreet company and this gave us access to a wealth of consumer data. So I also got involved in developing a new tool called TV Conquest which integrated geocoded Nielsen TV audience data with consumer data through a geodemographic segmentation system called ClusterPlus. It also included mapping and the ability to model ratings for retail trading areas. Today I refer to that time as the early days of big data. It was a great experience.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing media researchers today?

In my mind it is managing the race to the bottom as a result of technology that enables faster and cheaper measures. Related to this is the bifurcation of big data and traditional audience measurement. One is not a substitute for the other, and instead they need to coexist. I am a big fan of not letting perfect be the enemy of progress, but we have to be careful.

What do see as CRE's most significant contributions to the advancement of media research methodology?

The CRE is a unique sandbox that gives the industry vision and guidance on contemporary research issues. Nothing else like it exists. I recall the Video Consumer Mapping study as a seminal study that significantly improved the industry’s vision into the change that was going on in video and TV consumption – change that we otherwise could not see. It shed light on an urgent need for the industry to accelerate innovation in this area and became the roadmap for work that is going nearly a decade later.

Related to this, the new CRE Guide for Validating New and Modeled Audience Data is providing vision and guidance for new hybrid methodologies for audience measurement that have become necessary in today’s world. In the end, the CRE is filling in some significant knowledge gaps in this rapidly changing business.