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A Media Professional’s Perspective on the Need for Real Time Data

Before joining Mingo Smart Factory, I worked as a media professional for more than 15 years. Radio was my first love and I worked for two different stations after I graduated as the Production Director for my college radio station WGSU. In 2010 I made the shift to television to broaden my marketing skillset and move closer to home. Both industries have undergone a variety of changes to keep up changes in technology and viewership. Websites were bolstered with more opportunities for digital advertisers, niche podcasts were developed to expand the viewership, and social media has become a staple. All in an effort to reconnect with radio listeners and viewers that have “cut the cord“.

Perspective of former media professional on real time data

Pitching packages to advertisers was always a challenge because many believed that radio and television are dying. They believed that the technology was becoming obsolete with the rise of satellite radio, podcasts, streaming platforms and cable television. One of the ways that my sales department would fight back against these beliefs would be to show viewers ratings.

How Rating Services Are Similar to Real Time Data on the Factory Floor

real time data collection

The media industry subscribes to two main services that collect rating information: Nielsen and comScore. Both services collect information about what viewers are watching and how many are watching based on where they live, their demographics and household makeup. Some of their information may also include tagged 3rd party data like their level of education, career and intent to purchase a product.

Nielsen and comScore differ in their methodology for collecting viewer data. Nielsen mails out physical diaries to a random sampling of their audience. These recipients fill out the diary with their viewing habits for the past week, then mail it back. This information is extrapolated to fit a larger audience. ComScore skips the sampling step to collect information from a television set box to collect real time data. Viewing information is recorded to show when someone watching a program for at least five minutes.

The Effects of Different Data Methodologies on the Factory Floor

The weaknesses of manual reporting on the factory floor

White Board

The Nielsen methodology of physical diaries is similar to manual reporting on the factory floor. The temptation to manipulate the numbers as well as human error are also present. Do you want to report that you were watching The Bachelor or swap in a more cerebral show like Jeopardy? It takes time to walk the entire factory floor. If 45 minutes or more elapses between the first machine count and the last, some of the numbers may get estimated to get an idea of what the numbers for all the machines were when the counter started.

I was talking about this issue with my father a few weeks ago, and he told me this story from his engineering days. One day, he stayed in the control room to watch the floor. He observed the supervisor walk with his manual clipboard recording numbers. At no point did the supervisor look up at the machine. He knew what the overall goal for the day was, so he estimated where the progress should be at that time and wrote it down. How can a factory supervisor know which shifts are having an issue if all of the data sets point towards smooth sailing until the last shift of the day when the actual daily totals are reported?

The other weakness for manual reporting is that data correlation between the counts, type of order, quality issues and historical data has be added after the fact. This is usually done by someone who manages the data full time and has the industry experience to pull together different data sets from multiple Excel spreadsheets.

The strengths of automatic reporting on the factory floor

Temperature Tracking with Real Time Data

ComScore’s methodology of real time data reporting is similar to automatic data collection on the factory floor. Human error is minimized when sensors, computers and tablets run by operators instantly update data including counts, downtimes, vibrations and temperature to a central database. A smart factory dashboard like Mingo Smart Factory contextualizes this information into a visual format. Manufacturers can easily make data-driven decisions based on what is happening in real time.

The other strength for automatic reporting is that data can be quickly contextualized and correlated with historical information. For example, one of Mingo’s customers combines our automatic data collection and dashboard with their Fiix software to issue preventative maintenance tickets before a machine breaks. Check out other case studies.

Which methodology is better?

The answer may surprise you. When the ratings were higher in Nielsen than comScore for a reporting period, Nielsen was the superior service. After all, diaries are filled out by real people. Nielsen was founded by 1923 and many advertising agencies swear by it. If it’s not broke, why use a different ratings service. You may have people in your organization that feel that same way. Manual reporting has been the way XYZ Company has kept track of production since day one, why change?

However, the other 90% of the time the winner for the ratings race is comScore. ComScore is more reliable since it is not guesstimating viewer habits. At the point the attitude shifts to how Nielsen is old, out-dated and not reflective of viewer demographics. My former Operations Manager once told me the story of how he flew to Connecticut to look at Nielsen diaries after his radio station in California moved from #1 to #2 in Men 25-34. The reason: the sample data for that demographic was based on TWO diaries.

Many of my former co-workers loathe Nielsen for this reason. My former company used to require a presentation three times a year where the station compared the two rating services. There always had to be notes in the margins about why a particular show dipped in Nielsen but showed stronger viewership in comScore. ComScore also allows subscription holders to pull data with a high level of accuracy within two days of the original broadcast. Imagine getting data from the factory floor right now, rather than at the end of the week or later. What problems could you solve if you knew they were happening right now?

Real Time Data is a Need, Not a Want

The only way to stop problems as they happen on the factory floor is with real time data visibility. Radio and television stations use real time data sources like comScore to get a pulse on what their viewers are interested in. They also use this data to pitch their prominence in the market to advertisers when filling commercial capacity. Manufacturers need to do the same in order to stay relevant. Real time data helps manufacturers streamline operations. This information is crucial to help manufacturers make data-driven decisions when managing capacity. Visibility is the key for success.

Picture of Alyxandra Sherwood
Alyxandra Sherwood
Digital Marketing Manager @ Mingo Smart Factory I Adjunct Professor @ SUNY Geneseo I Boston Marathoner I Second Street Award Winner I Media Professional with 15 Years Experience