Jo Holz is one of the leading researchers in the industry today. In addition to her work at NBC, Children’s Television Workshop, iN DEMAND and Oxygen, she is currently SVP, Client Research Initiatives at Nielsen. In her more than 30 years in media research, Holz has experienced first-hand the great shift in the television landscape, from broadcast to cable to VOD to mobile devices.
How is Nielsen adapting to the new data streams and the way consumers are using media?
JH: This is a time of great change in the media landscape, most of which Nielsen measures. People talk about changing the wheels on the bus while the bus is speeding ahead. Everything that Nielsen measures is changing rapidly. We are trying to keep up with that and capture television viewing wherever and whenever it occurs. And those possibilities are continuing to expand.
There is also the trend of Internet video, the question of how we are going to measure that, and combine it with our other measures of video viewing. Not to mention all the other media platforms and devices that vie for consumers’ time. So that is the challenge.
What is happening now at Nielsen is that we are undergoing a major, concerted effort to both capture all of that usage and behavior and then integrate it into some combined measures that make sense.
So we have the TV and PC initiative, where we are coming up with a single combined rating for those television shows that appear on the Internet and on the TV in the same form and with the same commercial load. We are seriously studying social media and what impact that has on other media use. And there is a big push to combine the “buy” side of the company, which is the consumer data, with what we call the “watch” side, which is all the media usage data. Lastly, we’re looking at set-top box data and have even expanded into the use of neuroscience – trying get beneath the surface when it comes to media use and consumer behavior.
Can you talk about how you have used CTAM research results in your job?
JH: Yes. I got some great insights from the 3DTV study that CTAM did in partnership with Nielsen a few months ago. This was the first consumer study about 3DTV that actually exposed viewers to this new technology and then got their reactions to it, rather than just getting reactions to the concept. It turned out that there were issues related to having to wear the 3D glasses. Those insights were invaluable in helping Nielsen and the industry at large to better understand the potential for this new technology.    
Where do you see the media industry in the next five years or so?
JH: Things are changing so rapidly so it is hard to project. Things have emerged on the landscape seemingly out of nowhere and suddenly have become very important. Others less so. For a while everyone was excited about 3DTV, but as I just mentioned, the research showed us that it may be a while before 3D becomes important in the marketplace. The problem is with the glasses, and until that problem is dealt with I think it [3DTV] will be a minor sideline. I think you will have a lot of people who will be buying 3D televisions, but simply because those are the best and newest televisions out there. So that is one of the technologies that I think will not progress quickly.
On the other hand, Smart TVs or connected TVs, which are a very tiny part of the business right now, are going to be very big. I see them as really addressing consumer needs and wants. It is causing some consternation in the industry right now, such as how it’s going to affect traditional television. And obviously there are some business issues that have to be resolved, such as content compensation, and measurement of all of that viewing and attributing it correctly. But I think in the end, like the DVR, it will be more of a ‘friend’ and a positive force in the industry.
[This interview was conducted by Charlene Weisler, a research veteran, member of the Set-Top Box Collaborative executive committee, CTAM Research and CTAM Conference Planning Committees, and a CIMM consultant. She can be reached at In addition to the excerpt above, there are five video segments in which Jo talks more about these and other topics on Weisler Media Blog Spot.]

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