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An Abbreviated History of Next Century Media


Formation of
Next Century Media

Bill Harvey, leading media researcher who came out of executive posts at top agencies and research companies, had formed a company in the 70s called New Electronic Media Science, Inc. (NEMS). The Mission of NEMS was to perform strategic consulting and research for the New Electronic Media which Harvey’s Vision had seen coming since the late 60s. By the late 80s NEMS had become an IBM Business Partner and had been joined by Len Matthews, former CEO of Leo Burnett and former President of Y&R and of the 4As, who had also been Undersecretary of Commerce. In the early 90s IBM suggested to NEMS that it spin off a company to create intellectual property. IBM made an investment to start NCM, and other technology companies made investments in Next Century Media (NCM) later in the 90s, including EDS and Groupe Bull. NCM acquired from Groupe Bull the exclusive rights to the world’s first Deductive Object-Oriented Database (DOOD) called VALIDITY, which had been created by a team at Groupe Bull including Jean-Marie Nicolas, former Chief Technical Officer at the French counterpart of NASA. Nicolas and his associates including Laurent Vieille and Patrick Rickard, former CEO of Gould Computer, joined NCM.

Opti*Mark, System
for Optimizing of Marketing

NCM created IP in the form of a software system called Opti*Mark, an acronym for the optimization of marketing. Opti*Mark components include a system for management and optimization of addressable commercials that is still today the only known system which can allow multiple brands to split up the audience of a single TV spot. Other components make addressable commercials practical by providing the kinds of planning, buying, and post-evaluation tools used for regular TV commercials and other mainstream media. Yet other components provide the software infrastructure for mixing all forms of marketing communications and utilizing effectiveness research to allow complex analytics and optimization of Return On Marketing Investment (ROMI), integrating diverse data sources including set top boxes, Internet server logs, and syndicated/custom surveys.  

First TV Audience Measurement Via Set Top Box

In 1997 Next Century Media conducted the first measurement of television audiences to media research standards using cable set top boxes. This was done in Atlanta with ten top advertisers and their agencies and was hosted by BellSouth Video Services. NCM introduced a plan to the industry for cable companies to pool set top box data which would be managed by a Third Party research company such as NCM. This would provide huge sample sizes for many research purposes including better television audience measurement, media effectiveness measurement, analysis/optimization of Return On Marketing Investment (ROMI), commercial and program pretesting, and much more. The name given at the time to the plan was “The Interactive Index”. General Motors announced itself as the first subscriber to The Interactive Index and ten top agencies sent letters of support for the idea. This idea has remained in the industry mind and may very soon, still with the ongoing help of NCM, be quite close to finally becoming a reality.  

Media Effectiveness and Industry Leadership

NCM also continued the work of NEMS in the form of media effectiveness research for all forms of in-home and public place New Electronic Media, publications such as a popular monthly newsletter, and participation in and creation of industry organizations for the furtherance of knowledge. NCM for example led the creation of the CASIE principles for the ANA/4As/ARF Joint Task Force CASIE (Coalition for Advertiser-Supported Information and Entertainment), created the Interactive Alliance Advisory Council whose 60+ companies met regularly at New York’s Sky Club in the 90s, and founded the Addressable Advertising Coalition, which was supported by the top 20 agencies, major advertisers, cable and satellite companies, technology companies, and other major industry associations, later became part of the Direct Marketing Association, and today is part of the Interactive Television Association.  

Your Choice TV

In the late 90s NCM created an addressable commercial system for Your Choice TV, a service that was ahead of its time: Your Choice TV provided the opportunity to get the same benefits as are today provided to consumers by Digital Video Recorders such as TiVo, without having to acquire a new appliance. Your Choice TV was the brainchild of Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks and its Board included John Malone, Jim Robbins, Si Newhouse and other legendary media leaders.  

NCM Today

Today Next Century Media is focused on the measurement of media effectiveness for the latest generation of New Media which include out of home digital media, Word Of Mouth, Internet-capable cell phones, Cause Marketing, and True Sponsorship in all of its forms, and on keeping its intellectual property at the cutting edge of readiness for licensing by companies providing addressable commercial solutions and/or set top box based audience measurement solutions.


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