Sometimes, having a few options doesn’t provide one optimal solution. A case in point is television-viewing data, from traditional Nielsen panels to second-by-second tracking from automatic content resolution technology.

“Each source of viewing data has its own virtues and benefits. They have challenges as well,” says Noah Levine, SVP, Advertising Data & Technology Solutions, Fox Networks Group.

In this interview with Beet.TV at the Advanced Advertising Summit, Levine puts those virtues and benefits into the context of the industry’s ongoing quest for more unified targeting and measurement.

Panels tend to be smaller than other options but can go deep in terms of being able to get a vast amount of information about the individual members of the panels. “Panels can typically go down in terms of Nielsen to the person level, and that is a powerful thing for the TV advertising ecosystem,” says Levine.

With cable set-top boxes, “what you’re doing to a certain extent is you’re moving away from person-level measurement to household level measurement.” This comes closest to census-level so that “you can get into the multiple tens of millions of households tracking what they’re viewing.”

The downsides to set-top boxes: they don’t capture over-the-air, over-the-top or connected-TV viewing behavior. “So that’s missing a lot of viewership potential,” says Levine.

Which leaves automatic content recognition, which provides second-by-second viewership information. “ACR by nature defaults to that very, very granular level.”

More granular than just having household mailing addresses, ACR provides “a different level of identity resolution and matching” owing to user registration information and home IP addresses.

“ACR not only allows viewership of what you’re watching through your cable operator it would potentially, provided your TV set’s connected to the Internet, allow you also capture over the air viewership,” Levine says. “But what’s even more interesting is combining that with connected TV viewership.”

Layered on top of panel, set-top box and ACR data are additional datasets for targeting purposes. “So it’s exciting, it’s diverse, it’s a little bit of a Wild West environment. It creates a lot of opportunity but it’s going to be a while for the industry to normalize and accept what is good and what is great,” he adds.

For now, a big focus is on figuring out how many impressions are available to sell and how many end up being delivered against precision targets, with unduplicated reach a key goal.