Friday, August 17, 2007

Overview: Cross-Media Measurement Takes Off

Overview: Cross-Media Measurement Takes Off
by Erik Sass, Monday

MEDIA RESEARCH FIRMS ARE PUSHING a number of initiatives to provide media planners with integrated measurements of multiple media. By painting a broader picture of media consumption--which includes different kinds of content delivery--media researchers hope to help their clients to chart the behavior of American consumers, who are proving to be increasingly elusive and fast-moving targets. Several major players--Nielsen, ABC and TNS--are recording key data that will assist present and future ad buys.
Thus, the dominant research firm for print magazines, Mediamark Research Inc., announced last week that it has partnered with Nielsen//NetRatings to jointly produce a new database, called Net/MRI, that tracks readership of magazines' online and print editions. The companies are combining MRI's single-source surveys with Nielsen's Web data to produce a net audience figure for magazine brands, including unduplicated figures for print- and online-only audiences, as well as the overlap audience.

Its first significant finding, released last week: an average 83% of all visitors to 23 large-circulation monthly magazines were consuming the magazine content just online.

Earlier this year, the Audit Bureau of Circulations and Scarborough introduced a similar net print-online metric for newspapers, which are in the midst of a rocky transition to digital publishing. The new service, called "Audience-FAX," gives newspaper publishers the option of including print and online readership as separate figures, as well as a combined net audience figure on ABC circulation reports, as early as November 2007. The data will also be made available to ABC members in a database hosted by Scarborough, which will allow users to create custom reports focused on specific publications and demographic segments.

ABC has already introduced similar "aggregated audience figures" for business-to-business publications, which are now able to report an aggregated figure--including qualified circulation, Web site unique visitors, pass-along recipients and e-newsletter distribution. The data will be included in a sidebar on the front page of ABC publishers' statements and audit reports.

Online measurement firms are booming--and Nielsen//NetRatings underscores its intention to fuse online and TV media measurement. When the buyout was announced, Nielsen CEO Susan Whiting revealed that the two companies had already created a "fusion" database, matching people from its TV sample with comparable people from its online sample. Using demographic profiles and other statistical information, the "fusion" database effectively integrates measurement data from Nielsen's 10,000-plus TV household sample with more than 20,000 respondents in Nielsen//NetRatings' NetView sample, as well as the 130,000 subjects in its MegaPanel.

Aware that demographic matching of databases may not be enough to satisfy media executives, the company is also working to recruit a core audience sample of about 4,000 consumers who will submit to measurement of both Internet and TV measurement through a new division called NielsenConnect. This dual-measurement sample will provide single-source data that can be extrapolated to TV and online samples, helping to ensure the accuracy of the database.

After this core program is up and running, NielsenConnect will roll out a "HUB" component that allows it to measure its panelists' interactions with other media, including print and outdoor advertising. Nielsen's new outdoor measurement system centers on the nPod, a GPS tracking device which subjects carry for nine days as they commute and walk in public spaces. The nPod overlays travel patterns with the range of visibility for out-of-home advertising installations to calculate message exposure.

Rather than burden its current panelists with more measurement devices, NielsenConnect's head researcher, Paul Donato, said Nielsen will collect the additional data from those who are retiring from the TV or Internet panels after their two-year contract expires. NielsenConnect will combine this wealth of data with their out-of-home ad exposure and print consumption. This data can then be extrapolated to current panels with a variety of statistical techniques.

Of course, Nielsen isn't the only company attempting to establish a universal cross-media measurement system. TNS Media Intelligence, for example, is set to begin its second cross-media TouchPoints survey in Britain for the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), the U.K. equivalent of the 4As.

TouchPoints 2 hinges on a single-source Hub Survey, in which 5,000 subjects carry a PDA-type device and fill out diaries documenting their behavior every half-hour for several weeks. The data from this Hub Survey is then compared and integrated with accepted media currency data from magazines and newspapers, television, radio, cinema and outdoor.

For its part, Arbitron--which dominates radio measurement in America--is also touting the suitability of its Portable People Meter for single source measurement of TV and online audiovisual exposure; PPM can measure all these media, including streaming Web radio and video, provided that broadcasters encode their signals. While Arbitron says it has no plans to challenge Nielsen in at-home TV measurement, it's promoting PPM's capabilities for measuring out-of-home TV exposure along with radio

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