TRA, TiVo Forge Data Deal

NEW YORK TV audience researcher TRA has struck a licensing deal with TiVo to access viewing data from the DVR maker’s 1.7 million set-top boxes nationwide.

The deal gives TRA access to a national footprint of STB data for the first time. The research company matches viewing data from set-top boxes to purchase data from 70 million-plus frequent shopper cards issued by grocers, drugstores and clothing retailers, among others. That combination of data, often referred to as “single-source” research, is highly sought by marketers looking to improve ROI on their advertising purchases.

Until this year, the most prominent single-source research project was a pilot venture between Adweek parent the Nielsen Co. and Arbitron known as Project Apollo, which was in development for three years. But the project was shuttered in February after the partners concluded that prospective clients were not prepared to pay the fees that would make the service financially viable.

Among TRA’s clients are CBS and Publicis Groupe’s MediaVest.

David Poltrack, chief research officer at CBS, described TRA as the “most advanced” single-source research firm in the business today. He said the service is affordable because no panel of homes must be maintained, an apparent weakness of Apollo. Using STB and shopper card data also makes the TRA system more “scaleable,” Poltrack said.

With the TiVo deal, TRA now has access to more than 2 million set-top boxes nationwide. In addition to TiVo, it has STB access agreements with cable operators, including Charter’s Los Angeles system of 300,000 homes.

TRA and TiVo executives at the Advertising Research Foundation’s annual audience measurement conference in New York disclosed the agreement yesterday.

TRA is run by media entrepreneur Mark Lieberman, its CEO, and veteran media researcher Bill Harvey, the company’s president.

Lieberman said TRA would begin accessing the TiVo data later this year, declining to be more specific. The changing media landscape makes it a “pivotal time for the advertising community,” said Lieberman, requiring “more in-depth insight into who is viewing which programs and then purchasing products based on advertising.”

Todd Juenger, vp, general manager, TiVo audience and research measurement, said the deal “creates the most powerful, comprehensive research tool for measuring advertising efficacy and ROI of media spend, bar none.”