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CIMM Set To Reveal Details As MTV Exec Moves To Forefront

Group now headed by MTV Networks’ Colleen Fahey Rush 10/26/2009 06:18:32 PM Eastern

The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement is moving into high gear this week launching a Website at www.cimm-us.org. The organization is also preparing to officially release its long-awaited request for proposals (RFP) this week, according to executives familiar with discussions. 

The first RFP is aimed at soliciting a set-top-box data study based on three to six months of data for evaluation rather than sales purposes. The second RFP looks for a cross-platform data study which would, “reflect exposure of specific video sources on television, the Internet and mobile media.”

While the group has been relatively quiet since it announced its formation in the summer, it now appears ready to spring into action. Spearheading the venture’s executive committee is MTV Networks’ Executive-VP Insights and Research, Colleen Fahey Rush. Surprisingly, NBC Universal's Alan Wurtzel, who was the main catalyst for its creation, is taking a more behind-the-scenes role. Some have speculated that the potential acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast may be one reason for that change, but Wurtzel and NBC Universal were quick to shoot that notion down.

Wurtzel said he was no longer fronting the group to let other members of the coalition participate and take a managing role. He will remain acting managing director of the group and is head of the search committee.

"I have in no way abdicated serious participation," he said. "It had to have the real co-op as a coalition of my colleagues and that was the reason I didn't go on that board."

Indeed other senior industry research executives have cited the extremely heavy lifting involved in co-ordinating 14 members and their separate legal teams as a reason for not becoming part of CIMM's executive committee which includes representatives from Warner Bros., Starcom MediaVest Group, Interpublic Group’s Magna and marketers Unilever and AT&T.  The group is expected to announce a number of new members including media agency Carat some time this week.

According to executives close to talks, the search committee is preparing to name a managing director and may have an announcement as soon as the next CIMM meeting, slated for early November, though Wurtzel says that timetable is too ambitious.

CIMM was formed with the intention of offering seed funding to those research firms who can help build a new generation of measurement for the TV video industry. The members are committed to spending $100,000 over two years to help new research firms get their cross media research off the ground. The likely beneficiaries of that money are companies such as: TNS, TRA, Rentrak, IMMI, ComScore and perhaps even Google which may be interested in providing analytics. One executive in the research business told B&C one likely speed bump for CIMM may be the lack of adequate funds to compensate research firms for viewing behavior data that the company had spent many millions of dollars to acquire.

One CIMM member responded that he receives so many separate requests for funding that this CIMM process is the only way to create standards and get at least some of the myriad prospects off the ground. While group members do not wish the group to be viewed as a rival to Nielsen – and the research giant is welcome to pitch along with everyone else – one executive pointed out that the TV industry is spending so much money supporting a decades old way of measuring TV that it is having trouble affording an overhaul.

Nielsen itself is working hard to get to a place where it can meet the needs of the industry. It held a high level pow-wow to hear about how quickly online viewing measurement ought to be in place.

Turner Broadcasting’s Chief Research Officer, Jack Wakshlag, speaking on a CTAM panel October 26, said that his company did not wish to put programming online before a real way of measuring it effectively was in place. Wakshlag said he needs to see some real way of quantifying online viewing by next summer when the new cable season starts.

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