Goerlich believes national minute-by-minute viewer measurement might help yield better understanding of local spot.
How many people are watching that 30-second auto spot? And who are they?
Zenith Optimedia is determined to find out, becoming just one of two media agencies to sign on for full access to Nielsen national database and its minute-by-minute ratings (the other is Starcom/MediaVest).
“We are at the edge of a sea change in how TV is viewed in this country with the advent of DVR’s, video on the net, and mobile video,” says Bruce Goerlich, Zenith executive vice president and director strategic resources. “It’s important that we have a data stream that focuses on who actually is seeing commercial content.”
The service is based on the Nielsen National People Meter sample and allows Zenith Optimedia to see and analyze national viewership of each TV minute, including those carrying commercials. Combining the data with that of the Local People Meters, the service might even yield some understanding of local spot viewership, Goerlich says.
Zenith’s clients include Toyota, J.P. Morgan, Nestle and L’Oreal.
“Our mantra is ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œWe are an ROI Agency’,” he says. “If you’re not able to have an ongoing conversation with your clients about who’s seeing your commercial, I don’t know why you’re in the business.”
Minute-by-minute will be the new currency that follows the program, the commercial, the product placement out of homes, into dorm rooms, over mobile devices and DVRs, he says, and it’ll answer some critical questions.
“Does our program mix meet advertising goals? Do we have sufficient eyeballs? Is there engagement—the right program, for the right number of people, with the right involvement?”
The minute-by-minute service is not yet local, he says, “However, we can ID it in the Local People Meter markets we have now. We can take a look and see reach and frequency. And, for the first time, we’ll be able to intergrate national and local ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦ with much more flexibility in accessing very granular ratings data, which, ultimately, will help Zenith clients to know what the viewership of their advertising is at any given minute throughout the ad.
“You could take an auto buy in Boston for Lost and understand how that local buy in primetime performs and compare to a national schedule,” Goerlich explains. “That’s the first time we’ll be able to do that in an integrated way.”
Agencies will know how a network schedule delivers in a single major market,” he says. “Then,” he adds, “we can see how better to improve that national buy with a local overlay.”
But there are naysayers, even among other researchers generally eager for better measurement.
“Just because you can produce data, it doesn’t mean that it’s business-worthy,” says Dave Zornow, president, TNG Research. “There’s just too much noise and instability in these data to make it practical.”
“Remember: it’s only minute by minute,” he says. “You might reach some conclusions, but you have insufficient resolution to make smart business decisions. Furthermore, if spot times aren’t perfectly aligned between what station logs and Nielsen records, the ratings for the commercial pods will be misaligned, making the data worthless.”
Small demo sample size also remains a “big issue,” Zornow warns.
Goerlich acknowledges that the “service is not perfect.” But the opportunity for data much “richer” in demographics is worth the risk, he insists.
“We will now have race, head of household, number of children, along with age, sex and income,” Goerlich says. “And, for the first time, planners and buyers—spot and national—will have the same metric that’s totally consumer focused.”