Liesl Copland
Liesl Copland

Video on Demand is a fast-growing distribution sector for films. But unlike theatrical box office reporting, cable companies and other video viewing platforms don't report viewership in a uniform and transparent way, leaving filmmakers and the industry without any benchmarks for where audiences are engaging with their content. Liesl Copland, of WME's Global Finance and Distribution and Digital Media groups discussed the future of Big Data and the need to change the system in a rousing speech at the TIFF Doc Conference this afternoon. She emphasized the need for transparency in the VOD industry and called upon filmmakers to demand it. Read her full speech below:

You may have seen a New York Times article a couple of Sundays ago that profiled one of the largest consumer information gathering companies in the world of "Big Data" - the Acxiom Corporation. Acxiom, founded by a former Microsoft executive Scott Howe, was doing something novel and perhaps even counter-intuitive.

They created a website called that allows you and I to view our consumer profiles - all of that information that is secretly gathered every time we make a purchase, and that advertisers are eager to know so that they can specifically target their products.

Now on this site you not only can view your profile - but you can engage with that data - editing it to better reflect your consumer behavior, and even choosing to opt out of the system completely.

In an industry known for its lack of transparency, this is a truly disruptive move on Acxiom's part.

By crowd-sourcing consumer behavior, Acxiom hopes to breed efficiencies that advertisers have dreamed of and that will make us as consumers less annoyed by those targeted ads.

I decided to check it out for myself. When I looked up my own profile, I realized that the system isn't flawless. For instance, Acxiom pegged me as a "high-volume/low-end retail purchaser" -- which I was truly hurt by, having spent a considerable portion of my disposable income stocking my closet well beyond my means with upscale retail items.

But I decided to take control of my data nonetheless. After filling out a couple of questions and making some changes to my personal information, I suddenly realized that it was not only kind of fun, but revolutionary in that I was playing a role in crafting my consumer identity.