Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The changing science of media measurement

Measuring media consumption habits is becoming more and more difficult as people interact with content in divergent ways. If you watch The Office on Hulu, for example, you might not be counted as viewer under the traditional Nielsen model. And that makes it difficult for advertisers to judge the true value of any given medium or time slot.

A new technology, however, is trying to change all that by measuring consumer response to ads across multiple media. And they're doing it, as the Wall Street Journal reports, using the communication tool that is becoming the Holy Grail of all media--the cell phone.

[Integrated Media Measurement] embeds its software into the cellphones of the company's 4,900 panelists. The software picks up audio from an ad or a TV show and converts it into its own digital code that is then uploaded into an IMMI database, which includes codes for media content such as TV shows, commercials, movies and songs.

IMMI's database then figures out what the cellphone was exposed to by matching the code. Cellphone conversations and background noise are filtered out by the software, IMMI says, since there is no "match" in the IMMI database.

To get a handle on the effectiveness of a given ad, IMMI's data can show, for example, when a panel member is exposed to a movie trailer on TV and whether that same consumer later goes to see the movie. Similarly, IMMI data can show if a panelist watching a promo for a TV program will later watch the show, either on TV or online. IMMI thinks it can expand that idea from films and TV shows to consumer products like shampoo or toothpaste. It is testing its technology with a national grocery store chain.

Anyone who buys ads on mass media will want to keep an eye on new trends in measurement since the resulting numbers dictate the cost of airtime. On thing's certain: as we consume multiple media simultaneously and in nontraditional settings--even on our cell phones themselves--measuring consumption will become less of an exact science and more of an educated guess.

Graphic from the Wall Street Journal/NBC Universal

1 comment:

Justin Clupper said...

could this be the beginning of a slippery slope to allowing more recording of actions via the cellphone? And ultimately the conversations we have? Is this the beginning of the end for privacy as we know it right now?

Keep in mind...I'm playing devil's advocate...but still something to consider.