Can the Meters Save Radio and TV?
The Internet rocked the media world with one simple advertiser advantage. Accountability. Advertisers on the Internet can see who watches what, and when they watch it. But the playing field may become level. For the first time the People Meter gives the traditional media an opportunity to look inside the behavioral mind of their consumers. More on that later. First take a look at the history of ad revenues by media format over the past ten years.
There is a reason why ad revenues have skyrocketed for the Internet. Website use is traceable, and click thru’s can be measured accurately. Contrast that with a buy on TV or radio. The buy is placed but you are taking your best guess in terms of whether or not the spot was even seen or heard. As John Wanamaker once said, “I know that half of my advertising works. I’m just not sure which half.”
But exposure and behavior are two different things. An ad can be seen or heard (exposure) but it may not generate store traffic (behavior). The problem with TV and radio has been more on the exposure side, and less on the behavioral side. That’s because we could never prove that somebody was actually exposed to the spot. Up until now, the measurement of audience members to any single program were at best…Nielson or Arbitron estimates. Just estimates.
Enter the People Meter…A Virtual Audience EKG
Estimates are another word for what people can recall watching or listening to. Once the People Meter (and Nielsen set top monitors) entered the equation, recall was replaced by actualities. Now Media Monitors can show us audience usage on a second by second basis. This kind of research creates a virtual EKG of media usage. An example of radio listening for a three hour span is shown below.
The Wonder of It All
Now let’s consider the implications of these EKG type charts from both an advertiser and programming perspective. First, advertisers can get a realistic view of audience size during commercial breaks. This provides more negotiating power than ever before. Agencies can also show their clients real proof that listeners were there during the spots (or in some cases not there).
But from a programming perspective, this kind of information is extraordinarily powerful. For the first time, a programmer can see what works and what doesn’t work. Since Media Monitors captures 100 percent of the audio (commercials and all) information, direct correlations can be drawn between content and tune in or tune out. I just wonder why this information isn’t used more often? Can this help increase audience? Damn right it can!
Finally, TV and radio have a perfect analytical model for programming strategy. And maybe for the first time, advertisers can answer the question: Did anybody actually see or hear my commercial?