Kelly Scott Madison

Truths and Myths of Set-Top Box Data



The Fundamentals

What is a set-top box? 

A set-top box (STB) is an information device that enables content from a signal (such as cable or satellite) to be displayed on a television.

What is set-top box data? 

STB data is collected in over 40 million households nationwide through operators such as Cablevision, DirecTV, Dish Network, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and AT&T U-verse. Rentrak/Kantar audience measurement data represents actual television viewership collected on these STBs.

STB data has been available for quite some time, but linking this with third-party data has only become available in the past decade. Furthermore, as of 2011, STB penetration was only at a third of what it is today, limiting the ability to cost-effectively access this information, until recently.

What does STB data enable? 

STB viewership data paired with household psychographic and lifestyle attributes as well as first-party data enables targeting for a much more narrowly defined audience. This technology essentially allows TV audience targeting capabilities that were previously only available through digital or direct mail advertising.

TV advertising that selectively segments audiences to serve them different messages is called Addressable TV. When Addressable TV is fused with credit card transactions, sales, or customer registrations, this enables unprecedented measurement capabilities and true accountability metrics for television advertisements

How Addressable TV works.

Target audience characteristics are translated into addressable target proxies using a variety of data points. Ideally, the target proxy would represent 10 to 15 percent of STB connected households. This tends to be the sweet spot for an effective campaign target size while still allowing for distinct audience characteristics to be leveraged.

When a STB is turned on by the consumer, the addressable advertisement is delivered in the first available addressable slot (two minutes of every hour is reserved for addressable advertisements). This ad is delivered regardless of the vehicle.

Within the addressable model, advertisers buy an audience, not programming. The power of Addressable TV rests in...

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