As we interact online, we leave a breadcrumb trail of data – both personally identifiable and anonymized.  This information can be pulled straight from data shared – name, age, or address – or can be extracted from browsing habits and usage patterns.  So what restraints are put in place to stop unchecked collection and use of this data?

One touchstone used by authorities in determining data-related policies and definitions is the concept of “unfairness.”  This term is used prominently in the FTC Act and is part of the fabric of consumer protection in the United States.  In addition, unfairness is being used in policymaking and enforcement efforts to determine what types of data collection, storage or use may be impermissible because conducted or structured in such a way that do not adequately protect consumers from harm.


Continue Reading Brand Activation Association Marketing Law Conference – Data and Unfairness

I talk here on Madison Ave Insights a good amount about digital, social media, and mobile advertising trends and developments, and how they are changing the industry.  Advertisers are shifting dollars from traditional print and television to online media outlets and novel platforms – that is no question.  However, televisions are still in nearly every home in America, tuned to leading sitcoms, special programming, news, and sports.  So, how do advertisers determine which programs are worth allocating ad dollars to in order to reach target audiences?  Cue Sweeps periods.

The Way I See It

  • I see Sweeps, which are a data-collection periods used to determine local viewing information and provide a basis for scheduling programs – what gets renewed and what gets cancelled – and making advertising decisions for local television stations and cable systems, as a sort of precursor to the type of data-collection processes that advertisers are able to initiate online and on mobile.
  • I see many arguing that Sweeps are an outdated process and one that are no longer relevant in the age of new consumer data and because viewers can be determined through other aspects, especially given the new “second screen” trend of using social media to discuss TV programming while watching.

The Way The Industry Sees It

I sat down with Matt Seiler, CEO of Mediabrands, Interpublic’s media-buying division, to discuss the upcoming annual Sweeps periods and the relevance for the advertising and entertainment industries.

How and when did the Sweeps process begin? How have they evolved over the years to remain effective?

The concept of sweep periods are almost as old as television measurement itself. Nielsen began sending out viewing paper diaries in 1954 to capture demographic information, a practice that continues today in the smaller TV markets—almost sixty years later. Because the data is only collected at certain times of the year, networks and stations tend to heavy up on first-run and special programming in order to influence the ratings. This is especially mind-boggling when you consider that top and mid-tier markets are being measured electronically, fifty-two weeks per year. In terms of evolution over the years, there’s been virtually none, and better measurement of local television is something we strongly believe in. To Nielsen’s credit, they are currently exploring different forms of improved electronic measurement in smaller markets and we are involved in several committees to help guide the process.

How important are the Sweeps periods and data collected for advertisers in terms of allocating spend? Are there other factors that impact that decision as well?

To our dismay, it is still a significant consideration for our local investment staff because of the nature of the measurement. However, it is hardly the only factor involved in their decision-making, as we leverage all of the data at our disposal to help us buy smarter.


Continue Reading Television Sweeps Periods: Still relevant or outdated?

Cash and credit and debit cards are certainly dominant in the payment space today.  Some think change will never happen, but they are dead wrong.  Mobile payment is in its infancy, but the benefits are clear:  simplicity, convenience, relevance, and targeted offers and rewards.  No more wallets with multiple cards, just one device.  And this is only the beginning. 

Consumers and retailers are eager to participate.  Starbucks – a market leader – already offers a popular payment app.  It has now moved further into mobile payments by partnering with Square to allow mobile payment at all of its 7,000 U.S. stores.  Customers may soon even be able to pay with their phones while they’re still in their pockets.  With Square, a cashier can see your photo as you approach the register, and you complete the purchase by stating your name.


Continue Reading Are Mobile Payment Apps the Next Big Thing?