SMGx meeting on Live Only gets bad review


An unnamed industry source who attended a meeting set by SMGx 2/4 (the first it scheduled after its December open-letter announcement that meetings would be held with broadcast groups to discuss the Live Only stream going away) was none too impressed. Read on:

“The long anticipated “data stream” sit-down called by Starcom [SMGx] for the broadcasters and cablers with whom it does business occurred this past Thursday in NY.   Happily, the meeting did not devolve into a buyer versus seller free-for-all, but sadly, it did nothing to resolve the Live Only versus Live+Same Day debate that’s been roiling in local TV since June’09.   

Surprisingly, the meeting did something else: it pulled away the curtain in Oz-like fashion to expose Starcom as ill-prepared and uninformed in regard to local TV audience measurement. 

John Muszynski opened the meeting, introducing himself and all of the Starcom [SMGx] attendees.  Oddly, he didn’t ask the executive-level attendees to introduce themselves, some of whom had flown into town for the meeting.  John said Starcom was in the business of getting consumers to SEE ads, and while they believe Live+Same Day is valuable, he made clear that the only delayed viewing Starcom would pay for is that to commercials.  In Starcom’s view, Nielsen should keep Live Only and cease the production of Live+3 Days. 

Next up was a Starcom [SMGx] research executive, who was charged with presenting data in support of Starcom’s [SMGx] belief that local Live Only is closer to C3 than is Live+Same Day.  Multiple slides were shown, most, if not all, of which generated questions from the attendees.  A few of the questions appear below, each followed by Starcom’s [SMGx] response:

Q:  What measurement period are you using? 
A:  Don’t know.

Q:  Why are you using data from a June’08 presentation when more current and relevant data are available?
A:  Didn’t want to take time to update.

Q:  Why are you using only National data when parallel Local data is available?
A:   Was unaware that it existed.

Starcom [SMGx] asserted its belief that Live+3 should be discontinued, questioning if anyone even used it.  Many attendees responded that they did use Live+3, with one going as far as saying it was particularly relevant for Movie advertisers.   In response to this statement, a Starcom executive seriously exclaimed “Let them use Live+7!”   Marie Antoinette would have been proud to hear what had to have been the meeting’s most surreal exchange: the adamantly-opposed-to-using-Live + Anything Starcom suggesting that other agencies and advertisers switch from Live+3 Days to Live+7 Days!   

Starcom [SMGx] stated it was problematic to have the data stream debate playing out in the trade press; that its national clients with local business can’t understand why local and national can’t use the same type of measurement.  Perhaps if Starcom hadn’t authored two of the most pointed articles on local data streams, there would not be this problem.  Perhaps if Starcom had a better understanding of local TV measurement, it could share that information with its clients so those clients wouldn’t have to ask the question in the first place. 

Starcom [SMGx] wrapped up the meeting with a discussion about set top boxes and the second by second data it believes the industry should move towards using.  Once again, Starcom research seemed unaware (or unwilling to acknowledge) how many issues must be resolved before set top box measurement can be broadly and reliably used to measure Local TV.”

Muszynski is contacting RBR-TVBR on this for comment on 2/9, stay tuned.