During the conference call today with the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) I exercised restraint rather than pressing the buttons on the phone to ask a question. My question would not have been a question but more of "Oh come ON. You HAVE to be kidding me!!"
Here is a group of content providers, advertising agencies and advertisers who are coming together with a hardly funded entity that will do requests for proposals which may or may not wind up getting funded. It sounds like so far between the fourteen current participants they managed to scrape together a million bucks ("seven figures" total between all 14 participants is all they would say).
So what will we get?
If I were a betting man I'd bet you get the following:
- nothing much, really, at least not in terms of the way the advertising is bought and sold
- a means to put additional pressure on Nielsen
- group therapy
There is value in those last two bullets. Putting pressure on Nielsen can only be good from the consortium's perspective. I'm sure there's also the fantasy of "everything Nielsen gives us, plus more, plus better, plus cheaper!"
As fantasies go, it's not exactly "It would be really cool to be Tom Brady for a day..." but it's at least understandable.
The broadcast networks get a place to vent their frustration and belief that as many people are watching their stuff as ever, it's just not being watched live, so they are not making as much. "Waaaaaaahhhhhhh! Waaaaaaaaaaahhh!" And the consortium will nod sympathetically in agreement. The cable networks will get to use it as sort of social networking to convince advertisers the premiums between broadcast and cable are too high. The advertisers will smile at all parties while thinking "yeah, right, like we're going to PAY you for DVR viewers who watch a week later. HAHAHAHA Good luck with that!"
The advertisers get a place to vent their frustration that they want ratings measurements on commercial spots, rather than average commercial ratings (this actually seems very reasonable to me, so I won't add a "waaaaaaaahhhh!") and the consortium will nod in agreement.
And the agencies will do anything and everything they can to make both the buyers and sellers of advertising as happy as possible. Because at the end of the day, that's just what they do.
But if you're not looking to replace Nielsen and you're not looking for a new currency to buy and sell advertising, why get the buyers and sellers of advertising together? If between these 14 companies they can barely scrape together a million bucks, how serious are they about accomplishing anything besides putting additional pressure on Nielsen and group therapy?
On the other hand, a million bucks or so to put pressure on Nielsen and get group therapy in the bargain? Quite honestly, that seems like a bargain at 10 times the price.
Update: Claire Atkinson has a good write up, and says that each of the 14 members ponied up $100,000 so the consortium is seeded with 1.4 million. Atkinson notes that it "pales in comparison to the $7.5 million over three years that Nielsen has already invested in the Council for Research Excellence, an independent cross industry body with a similar mission and membership to CIMM."