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The National Consulting Center reinvents audience measurement with cloud services

Audience measurement is essential for decision-making in the television industry and, unlike traditional measurements that are based on a representative sample of just over 1,000 households located in 22 municipalities, CNC Ratings' offer has the capacity to analyze data from 85 thousand devices in 117 municipalities of the country.

CNC Ratings delivers granular and detailed information on 201 channels in just 30 minutes, a process that used to take 7 hours.

This project, which is to be replicated in Peru and Chile, currently has clients in Colombia of one of the national private channels, the eight MinTIC regional channels, the two national public channels, as well as two pay television channels, one sports channel, and one local channel. in Medellin.

Given the volume of data and the need to make it understandable and actionable for customers, the combination of Microsoft's Azure cloud, virtual machines and Power BI visualizers is the platform for a true revolution for the TV industry, advertisers and to generate better content for a demanding audience.

Colombia – Despite the disruption caused by streaming platforms and changes in audiovisual consumption habits, traditional television continues to be essential for Colombians. To the more than 10 million households with access to open television, there are 6.3 million that have subscription television, a service that in 2022 continued to grow. According to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report, 55% of Colombians continue to consume news on television. Local reports indicate that, on average, more than 87% of households in Colombia watch television in one day.

Knowing viewers in depth is essential for the success of the television industry in terms of on-demand audiovisual consumption and, as in many other industries, information is worth gold. Measurements help advertisers make informed decisions about where, when, and for how much to advertise. It is the most accurate guide to determine which channel to invest in and, at the same time, justify why paying for a commercial, with the same duration, broadcast at the same time, has different rates from one channel to another. It gives companies in the sector, such as channels and content producers, tools to design their programming and negotiate with advertisers based on real and timely information. And, above all, this information makes it possible to identify trends and consumption patterns by viewers in order to better understand them, improve the content and attract more viewers.

In these times of battle for attention, traditional measurement methods -which have traditionally been done with devices installed in the televisions of just over 1,000 homes in 22 municipalities of the country- may be insufficient to fully understand the preferences of more than 50 million viewers. Therefore, the Centro Nacional de Consultoría (CNC), which began its history with the traditional way of measuring the media in the 70s, knew that there were great opportunities to be able to offer viewers content aligned with their expectations. To achieve this, these information gaps needed to be filled and, armed with technology, a spirit of innovation and the power of cloud computing, he decided to break the mold of audience measurement.

Reinvent audience insight

The new audience measurement system devised by the Centro Nacional de Consultoría left behind the special devices installed in homes. Instead, it used the two-way communication capability found in most modern cable TV set-top boxes to extract granular, real-time information on audience behaviors. Each interaction of a viewer with his decoder generates information that reaches a central database and leaves a record as detailed as the time the decoder was turned on or the second this household changed channels. It allows us to understand how many people watch a certain program, what is their permanence time, at what point do they abandon that programming and which channel do they choose instead. All this data is collected by CNC Ratings to structure it, interpret it and then project it into graphs that adapt to the needs of each client.

CNC Ratings carried out a first pilot in Bogotá through one of the cable television operators, which represented an important exploration exercise, but still without the national scope that it intended. Convinced of the enormous value of this information, the cable television operator with the largest participation in the country -which serves almost half of the homes with pay TV- allowed it to expand this measurement spectrum not only in quantity but also in geographic coverage. Thus, the observation of consumption habits went from measuring just over 1,000 homes to taking the pulse of 85,000 homes, and from studying 22 to 117 municipalities in the country. CNC Ratings continues to grow rapidly and will measure 150,000 homes in the first half of this year.

A transformation to scale and measure more homes

Analyzing the behavior of tens of thousands of decoders across the country generates enormous amounts of information every minute. Continuing to scale represented a great technological challenge and a compelling argument to migrate to cloud services. “We started by receiving information from about 50,000 households, a very large number for what is customary for television measurement in Latin America. For the European or North American case, this is a normal number, but in Latin America there are measurements that are made with 600 homes, with 1,100 or even 3,000 the largest. That already represented a large data load for us, and a need to manage it that exceeded the capacity of our servers”, acknowledges Fabricio Alarcón, vice president of Brand and Media at CNC.

For CNC, Leaping into the Microsoft Azure cloud was key to achieving a broader, more detailed, agile and timely measurement in the Colombian market. “The first step was to change our mindset and migrate to the Azure cloud. And once we did that, the initial exercise was to come up with a database. Then we focus on cleaning them up, making them consistent, giving them structure, order and syntax, transforming them into audiences. A second challenge came: computers did not give us the capacity we needed. We opted to use virtual machines, which also operate in the Azure cloud”, explains Julián Riaño, data scientist at CNC. The flexibility and scalability of the cloud enabled a secure and efficient operation, he adds.

The next challenge was to make this information useful and actionable for customers, to make it user friendly and understandable. It was not a minor issue. 73% of the world's business data is not analyzed and here customer knowledge was the key. They found the solution in Power BI, another Microsoft tool connected to Azure, which generates dashboards that simplify the reading of the information. Power BI gives the possibility of having real-time interaction with the information and allows cross-references of information tailored to each need. “We were sitting on a database with immense wealth and we knew that we could begin to generate high-value information, for example, for the country's regional channels, which are distributed in municipalities that are not just large cities. There Power BI became more relevant, because we knew we had some data, we could process it and now we needed to deliver it. This tool allowed us to make this project a deliverable for our first client, which was the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications”, adds Alarcón.

“Today we have a Power BI that makes us proud. There is a group of clients associated with the measurement, some of which are very relevant, such as one of the national private channels, the eight regional MinTIC channels and the two national public channels. We also have two channels that are broadcast on pay television, one of which is very important for the country in sports, a media center and a local channel in Medellín, which have set up an environment for data exploitation”, adds Alarcón.

Accuracy and agility to better understand audiences

CNC it was clear that the more granular the information, the better its quality and its usefulness to advertisers and operators to help them make better decisions. To measure the challenge, it is enough to understand that to bring pay television to San Andrés, the State had to deploy a submarine cable. Today, the decoders installed there broadcast information that feeds audience analysis.

Precisely this dispersion is one of the differentials of the measurement made by CNC Ratings compared to that which governs the national market which, although rigorous, generates an estimate of TV consumption based on relatively few households. “We can see small but well-defined audiences, “niches” if you will, with consistency over time. We can also observe low consumption phenomena, such as early morning hours, something that before, with so few households in the sample, was difficult to measure. Now, in addition, we give a voice to a number of municipalities that in Colombia had not been taken into account. The measurement that governs the market is made in 22 large cities, on the other hand, we are reaching 117 municipalities, some small, far from the big cities, which gives them a new perspective, especially for regional channels, of how they are doing their work”, adds Alarcón.

Today CNC Ratings measures 85,000 homes and produces information from 201 channels. You know where they originate, at what times and what type of content is consumed. This level of detail arouses the interest of clients to go even deeper, raising the demand both in the quality of the data and in response times. “Customers expect the information as early as possible to make their decisions immediately. And we are getting it. We went from giving a client a custom Excel report and Power BI visualization in seven hours to 30 minutes after receiving the information. The virtual machines in the cloud helped us increase the time efficiency from when we received the data, transformed it and stored it in the database to project it in Power BI by up to 7 times”, highlights Riaño.

A model to replicate in the region

The scope, accuracy and speed in the delivery of reports sets CNC Ratings apart from other measurements and all the lessons learned and the flexibility of the cloud are making the CNC plan to replicate it in other countries in the region, including Peru and Chile. “For us it has been a case of transformation. The way we measure television in Bolivia today requires us to deploy a number of teams on the street and visit a number of homes, and with a lot of effort we have 1,600 homes each month. In Colombia we are measuring 85,000 homes without anyone leaving their chair, which shows us an enormous capacity to scale this project. Precisely in March we estimate to reach 100,000 homes and close the first half of 2023 with 150,000. The experience acquired allows us to say that we are not concerned about whether we are going to be able to handle it or not; We already have advanced that course ”, emphasizes Alarcón.

The digital transformation of CNC It shows the importance of data in an increasingly interconnected world, but above all the immense value that data has if it is managed and interpreted with the support of robust, reliable and secure tools. “This is a very clear example of how technology has a democratizing effect: the fact that a television channel can show numbers and audience to specific customers makes it relevant in the market, gives it a voice that it didn't have before. That is very valuable for a number of channels, regions and audiences that, because they were not counted, navigated in the dark or had no programming. Today they have it, as well as numbers, which allows them to enter the business and collect what the same market rates”, concludes Carlos E Lemoine.

Article taken from

By: Microsoft News

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