NBC’s Wurtzel Suggests Mobile Is On TV’s Radar More Than Web

LISBON, PORTUGAL– During an address about integrated audience measurement for TV, mobile, and Internet advertising, NBC Universal executive Alan Wurtzel riffed only about TV and mobile. The Internet – as most people still think of it as an experience driven by desktops and laptops – sounded more like an old girlfriend when it came up.

Wurtzel, the president of research and development for the media giant, said that an increasing number of viewers use their handheld devices while watching TV. “What we are seeing is that most mobile use is in the home, which is completely counterintuitive,” he told attendees at the International Conference on Online Media Measurement (I-COM) in Lisbon yesterday.

Wurtzel said there was a “massive” lift in mobile usage for NBC’s Olympics online coverage last month when compared to the Summer Games of only two years ago. The proliferation of iPhone and Android devices and their enhanced content-rendering capabilities were certainly partly responsible for the significant consumer behavioral change in mobile viewing, he said.

Broadcast and cable networks have spent considerable time and money ruminating about what cross-platform data means for their advertisers’ integrated campaigns. However Wurtzel suggested he isn’t worried about forcing together set-top/DVR data with Internet and cable/satellite TV statistics for business purposes. While he did not go so far as to discount the market influence of non-handheld computers, he said the most telling marketing data will be deriving from mobile devices.

During his speech, delivered from his New York-based office via Skype, he sounded sure about the eventual marriage of handhelds devices – rather than laptops or netbooks – to the future of TV-Internet user interplay. In the context of the show, it was an intriguing time to comment. The segment in which he appeared was called, “Three Screen Measurement Opportunities & Challenges [TV, Web, Mobile.]” And one of his main points throughout was that the industry is encroaching on a two-screen reality.

Wurtzel didn’t pull any punches, either, for an overall crowd that came together to make at least some sense out of an industry being constantly touched up by multi-channel data confusion. On the process of pooling data from TV, Web, and mobile and then piecing together analysis, he said, “[Data] fusion doesn’t make the grade.”

Meanwhile, other attendees pointed to mobile as a medium that’s finally racing into focus rather than slowly creeping to a more-relevant place of observation, as it has seemingly done for years. Quantcast CEO Konrad Feldman alluded to the future of handhelds when he said that the distinctions between television, online, and mobile “are going to erode significantly over the next three years. People won’t think about going onto the Internet – they’ll already be on the Internet.”

ClickZ is a media sponsor of the I-COM conference. Our travel and accommodation expenses were paid by the event’s producers.

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