Nielsen will invest $2.5mln in R&D to foster improved ratings-measuring initiatives, including bettering its controversial LPM service. The push to set its house in order came days after it owned up to issuing incorrect data for digi-subs (Cfax 2/15). Nielsen will devote the next 90 days to devising a plan for VOD. "Our ‘A/P Meter,’ along with client encoding, prepares us to measure VOD, but there are many additional details that need to be worked out," pres/CEO Susan Whiting wrote Fri. — Rentrak’s svp of on-demand essentials Cathy Hetzel says her company already is ahead of the curve and can track "anything that is served up by the VOD server," even in situations where a premium net like HBO offers non-subs free SVOD content during promotional periods. "Our approach to tracking is very different from Nielsen’s…Our business is transaction-based, while they’re built on the sampling model." In accordance with a model agreed upon by the AAAA and a contingent of MSOs, Rentrak’s nightly reports are aggregates of 4 distinct data points: VOD set-tops enabled; total views by set-top; unique set-top views; and total VOD minutes viewed. This allows ops to analyze in 24 hrs what once took 45-60 days to pull and measure. Rentrak expects to surpass 1bln measured transactions in ’05. It’s measuring Insight VOD data in "all 12 markets, or 400K VOD enabled HHs." Rentrak’s measuring Comcast data in Philly; other CMCSA markets have yet to be publicly announced. A 3rd MSO is expected to come aboard later in the year.

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Kelly Abcarian was named evp, measurement & impact at NBCUniversal’s Advertising and Partnerships division. Abcarian was previously gm of Nielsen’s Advanced Video Advertising Group.

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