Advertisers took a step closer to understanding exactly how their commercials influence shopping habits when VNU announced proposals for a new joint service between its AC Nielsen unit and Arbitron.
Meanwhile, one of the world's leading ad spenders, Procter & Gamble Co., has signed up as the service's first customer and will provide input as to what kind of information advertisers are seeking.
Market research panel
AC Nielsen and Arbitron, which specializes in data measurement, are planning to marry data about what TV and radio advertising consumers are exposed to with information about their actual purchases. The two companies are proposing to set up a national market research panel that will enable advertisers to better understand where their marketing dollars are wasted.
Panelists will be asked to carry around Arbitron's "portable people meter," a pager-like device that picks up signals from TV and radio, showing what media consumers are exposed to. Separately, households would also provide data on their purchasing preferences through surveys and as participants of the AC Nielsen Homescan panel. Homescan tracks purchases of packaged goods.
The national market research survey is aimed at providing marketers information about their ad spending, or return on investment. According to the statement, the data would be collected to "provide a holistic understanding" of how consumers interact with media and "their resulting shopping and purchase behavior."
Separately, Nielsen Media Research, the TV measurement arm of VNU, said it will begin offering clients new "minute-by-minute" data in October, 2005, that would help them understand how their advertising is rated. Several executives, however, counseled against referring to this data as "commercial ratings," since as many as three to four commercials might air within 60 seconds. Still, many agencies think that minute-by-minute data is better than relying on program ratings, which track hourly and half-hourly ratings.
While Nielsen has long provided minute-by-minute data, clients had argued it was hugely expensive and not specific enough. However, a Nielsen spokeswoman said, "This is raw data that they can do what they want with. Monday was the first day we were offering it."
P&G's media agency, Starcom MediaVest Group, is said to have pushed hardest for the information, though Nielsen Media Research did not say if it had any clients for the minute-by-minute service.