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OMD has released a study that suggests digital set-top boxes are the key to a more effective media measure than Nielsen Media Research's sample-based audience data. Omnicom Group's OMD asserts Nielsen diaries are antiquated and inaccurate, echoing general complaints in the industry. People meters require people to turn them on, which they often forget to do. But, OMD notes, "There is software in most of the advanced set-top boxes enabling cable and satellite distributors and their licensees to track viewers every second of the day that the television is on."

"Nielsen measures 5,000 sampled households to cover 108 million actual households in this country," said the study's author, Andrew Green, managing partner, director of communication insights, OMD, New York. "There are about 80 million set-top boxes out there. It's not that all of them could suddenly be used for audience measurement, but imagine if we even had 1 million boxes."

He also believes consumers could be persuaded to participate.

"Over time, the MSOs and satellite companies could incentivize participation, offering consumers, say, two pay TV channels if they agree to be measured and monitored for two years."

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