The makers of a new app designed solely to track and report on everything being watched on the device it's running on have assured privacy advocates they will not release any individualized information collected by the app.
Charles Buchwalter, CEO of Symphony Advanced Media, the data collection start-up which created the VideoPulse app, said all information collected is aggregated into demographic groups before being shared.
He says VideoPulse only picks up signals from broadcast programs and doesn't record normal conversations.
Buchwalter claims that the VideoPulse system is the most advanced audience measurement available, able to track all and any online video viewed by its users through a passive listening program.
He says app users will be recruited by offering people between $5 and $11 each month they use the app, with a free sign up process that asks a variety of questions such as gender, income level and age.
Buchwalter says the questions are designed to create diverse demographic groupings to provide viewing data. Approved users will be required to have the app running in the background of their phones at all times.
The App has been tested using 15,000 users by several media companies including Viacom, NBC, A+E Networks and Warner Bros with all having been satisfied with the data received.
Media experts say with the growth of companies such as Netflix and Hulu, which have drawn viewers away from traditional television, there has really been no accurate way to track what is being watched by consumers until now. They say with VideoPulse, entertainment providers, TV networks, TV show and film production companies will have access to an invaluable source of data.
Buchwalter says "There has been a significant void in understanding how consumers are using non-traditional media platforms, but innovation has finally arrived in the media measurement space."
Warner Bros media research chief Liz Huszarik says "Our industry has been disadvantaged by legacy measurement approaches that have failed to evolve with consumers’ increasing use of media platforms. We are hopeful that by working with Symphony Advanced Media’s VideoPulse that we can capture an accurate picture of consumers’ total TV/video usage across platforms and devices, with a transparency that’s been missing from other vendors."
According to Buchwalter the data generated by VideoPulse in its testing phase has already produced valuable insights, including knowing millennials are watching as much TV as they have ever done, but viewing it through up-to-now non-measurable "nontraditional" means.
"When you then put that 25% back on top of the market that appears to be declining, you have all of the sudden a very different view," he said.