Help Wanted: Next-Gen TV Researchers

Alex Corteselli, VP of Cox Reps and chairman of the Council for Research Excellence's education committee, says there is an urgent need to recruit and train the next generation of researchers. He notes how essential this is for an efficient marketplace, for both buyers and sellers, and how this challenge has been neglected. His committee is spearheading an internship program, and he explains how companies can become involved.

Many readers of this column may know me from the hat I wear as an executive at Cox Reps. These days, I’m wearing the additional hat of chairman of the Council for Research Excellence’s recently formed education committee. And I’m writing to address TVNewsCheck readers about the urgent need to fill the huge void of audience researchers. The media and advertising industries need to step up their game in researcher recruiting and training.

The Council for Research Excellence (CRE) is a diverse group of senior research professionals from throughout the media and advertising industries dedicated to advancing the knowledge and practice of audience measurement methodology.

The CRE has commissioned a number of studies during its five-year history — including major research into video-consumption habits, survey-response bias and the use of set-top boxes in audience measurement, among other efforts. I’m proud of the work my CRE colleagues and I get to do, and I’m excited about my new challenge spearheading the CRE’s industry-education initiatives.

And a challenge it is. At the 4As conference earlier this month, among the most pressing industry-wide tasks cited by agency chiefs was the imperative of recruiting bright young talent into careers in advertising and media.

According to press reports, WPP CEO Martin Sorrell labeled the ad industry’s current recruitment efforts “criminal neglect.” Omnicom Group CEO John Wren said, “We’ve gotten way too comfortable poaching … Omnicom has gone to campuses, but we don’t stay there … We pretend to stay there, but we don’t.”

The problem is even more acute for those of us in the industry’s research branch. Attracting bright young minds with a facility for statistical methodologies to join our industry can be a daunting task when Wall Street beckons.


This is, of course, the “Sales Office” column, so why am I writing about the need for better recruitment into research?

Put simply, in our business high-quality audience research is essential to an efficient marketplace for buyer and seller. As an industry, we need to recruit not only promising young sales talent, but talent for other industry disciplines – including the young talent needed to develop and evolve the crucial currency that is audience research data.

At CRE, our mission is to help inspire the next generation of researchers to join the profession and help them obtain the training to allow them to excel.

And in this effort we do have some weapons at our disposal: This is a truly exciting time for audience research; there is of course a heightened focus on the discipline today – fraught with (or possibly advantaged by) challenges and urgency.

We’re currently evolving a game plan. A cornerstone of it is CRE’s decision to create an internship program – the first-ever that we’re aware of solely devoted to media research. It will provide an opportunity for students and help address the challenge of recruiting young talent.

Internships will be offered for summer 2011 through CRE member companies, and we have issued a call to these members to carve out internship positions. We also are encouraging non-CRE member companies to participate.

These internship positions must include some “thought” work; we’re asking participating companies to enable students to experience the research process and to keep filing/data entry tasks to a minimum.

We believe CRE’s organizational focus and talents can help ensure an enriching program for participating companies and a valuable experience for students.

More about the program can be found in the coming days and weeks on the CRE website:

CRE seeks to support continued excellence in research not only by helping to inspire the next generation of researchers to join the profession, but by offering continuing training for those already working in the industry.

To this end, we’re considering remote learning sessions for teachers — to help train the trainers. We also are looking at workshops for students, faculty and industry professionals, including the preparation of training materials. In addition to the planned internship program, our outreach effort will be expanded to college career days.

But as a first step I’d like to encourage TVNewsCheck readers who are interested in learning more about the CRE Internship Program to contact us at [email protected].

If you or a colleague may be interested in establishing a research internship for this summer please contact us by April 14. Of course, we hope to make this an ongoing program, so even if you don’t have anything in place for summer 2011 we hope to hear from you.

Working together, employers in advertising and media can help ensure a vital supply of fresh energy and thinking for the field of audience research. Or at least we can help ensure we won’t be forever accused of “criminal neglect.”

Alex Corteselli is VP, Cox Reps and chairman, education committee, Council for Research Excellence. All about sales and advertising, Sales Office appears once a month in TVNewsCheck through the cooperation of the TVB, which solicits the columns from its staff and members. To see all the columns in the series, click here.

Comments (3)

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alicia farmer says:

March 25, 2011 at 8:47 am

Good luck with any meaningful investment in research talent. Why would an intelligent, motivated college graduate want to work at a rep or station that treats research people as expendable “back room” drones?

William Bremner says:

March 25, 2011 at 11:26 am

if that’s what you thought about the research department or how you treated research, there’s a reason you’re listed as – “formergm” – most of the GM’s and Presidents of the Rep I speak with today started off as either a intern in the newsroom or research analyst at station or rep. It sounds like you got into the family business and daddy started you off as assistant to the general manager…….

Roy Mayhugh says:

March 25, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Yeah, I’d hope most places don’t treat their RDs that way. The good broadcast groups, in particular, value RDs at their stations and at the corporate level.