Horses for Courses – RPD or Peoplemeter? Five years on from Montreal WAM

Richard Marks and George Shababb


At the ESOMAR/ARF WAM Conference in Montreal in 2005, George Shababb and Tony Taylor presented a paper entitled "From Set Top Meters to Set Top Boxes". The paper discussed Return Path Data – the ability to extract viewing data directly from digital set top boxes – and its implications for TV audience measurement.

This landmark paper highlighted the significance of Return Path Data (RPD) at an early stage in its evolution, RPD’s likely future significance, and the statistical and research considerations related to that.

Five years on, one of the paper’s original authors – George Shababb, President of Kantar Media Audiences North America, returns to the subject of that paper to apply the benefit of hindsight: How has RPD developed since then? What happened? What did not happen? What is the current status of RPD? In this, he is assisted by Richard Marks, Global CEO of Kantar Media Audiences. Tony Taylor, the co-author of the original paper, is happily in retirement having lit a fuse that caused explosions around the world from Hawaii to New Zealand.