ThinkTV taps noted digital video academic to lead new research ‘laboratory’

Recently-formed TV marketing body ThinkTV is setting up an “independent laboratory” with leading media researcher Professor Karen Nelson-Field, who says she hopes to “redefine the definition of TV”.

Redefining TV: Karen Nelson-Field

Redefining TV: Karen Nelson-Field

It has formed a two-year deal with her company Media Intelligence Co., to create a research program which will test multi-platform TV advertising and provide “robust evidence and greater clarity” about how it “delivers business results”.

Dubbed Smart Lab ThinkTV – a join-venture between free TV networks and Foxtel – promises that while it will be funded by the TV industry, it will operate independently.

Asked how it would maintain independence despite industry funding, Nelson-Field told Mumbrella: “Every single medium has a role to play. The way we’ve approached this is that digital has strengths, TV has strengths and everyone knows that.

“From an outsider perspective it can look like they’re paying me so we have to find these results, but in reality we’ve picked major attributes which show what TV does best based on previous work, and we’re going to proof point them again with updated measures.”


She added “The whole point of this is to remind advertisers about what it is good at, as that seems to have been lost in translation along the way”.

Nelson-Field, a professor of media innovation at the University of Adelaide, made a splash in the industry a couple of years ago with research into the nature of viral video and user behaviour.

She said the six attributes of TV to be investigated will be revealed at ThinkTV’s event on November 30, but said there would be two major research projects, one of which is based on machine learning, running over the next month. It will look at catch-up TV and time-shifted viewing as well as linear TV.

“The main thing for me is to redefine the definition of TV, as TV for me is premium content, and I think that often gets missed out,” she said. “I think it has a very old-fashioned viewpoint at the moment.”

The research will not be “tactical” – how advertisers should apply it day-to-day – but rather a “higher order attributes of a medium which are longstanding and difficult to replicate”.

“The ideal for this is not to be day-to-day, low-level tactical things that can be changes like programming or genres, it’s very much higher order and strategic, stuff that gives research longevity,” she added.


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