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Turner broadcasting executive says more transparency needed for Netflix advertisers

Howard Shimmel

With Netflix adding another 1.93m US subscribers in the last quarter alone, and expected to hit around 50m in the States by the spring, Howard Shimmel, chief research officer at Turner Broadcasting told Beet.TV that Netflix should address its blind spot and shed more light on viewing patterns to advertisers going forward.

Because Netflix famously keeps viewing data to itself but also uses it to customize its commissioning and procurement patterns for more shows, Shimmel notes the company needs a greater degree of transparency for its advertisers.

Shimmel wants to understand the Netflix audience a whole lot better than he does today, because he sees a problem.

"Netflix estimates the average user has them on for two hours a day. And, if they are taking a huge chunk out of the market, increasingly advertisers have to realize that when Netflix releases new content, they still don't know exactly how people are using it. We don't have line of sight of what people are viewing. We may not have long sight to 10% to 15% of viewing that goes on every night. You don’t want to have that much blind spot and so we need to know how they are doing."

Right now, Shimmel simply wants to understand what the audience is doing when its not watching his TV networks like CNN. After all, Netflix doesn’t compete for advertising in that sphere.

But TV analysis firm Ampere’s Richard Broughton, a year ago, told Beet.TV that Netflix could make $270m per quarter from selling pre-roll ads or $2bn a quarter from a broadcast-style model – both of which would nevertheless lead to varying degrees of churn from upset customers.

And the issue doesn’t just apply to Netflix. “It extends down to platforms like YouTube,” Shimmel adds.

Shimmel also notes that the success of Facebook Live means that it may be time for more measurement, including Nielsen total audience ratings. "They should be measured the same way that everyone else is measured and we realized back in the 1980s that although ratings are not something that always reflect favorably to advertisers, the ad market should be an open book. Shimmel notes that Facebook has to acknowledge that they should be part of the Neilsen product.

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