Bill Bennett

Director of Research CHUM, TorontoThe biggest gap lies in the lack of qualitative data, and that is the extent to which viewers of selected programs also purchase certain types of products.A few years ago, there was attempted fusion project between PMB...

Director of Research

CHUM, Toronto

The biggest gap lies in the lack of qualitative data, and that is the extent to which viewers of selected programs also purchase certain types of products.

A few years ago, there was attempted fusion project between PMB [Print Measurement Bureau] and BBM [Bureau of Measurement] that was spearheaded by the Canadian Media Directors Council. The project apparently died from lack of interest.

Since then, some stations have made use of Compusearch data to try to fill that gap. Others [including chum-owned citytv] are using proprietary research, such as that done by Leigh Stowell & Company, to fill that gap. But there remains no universally accepted television qualitative data.

An advertising agency which can no longer use cost efficiency alone as the basis of evaluating their buys, will have to assume that a program’s audience behaves ‘normally’ in their buying behavior. And the agencies themselves have no way to evaluate whether their purchase is a good one, except by cost efficiency alone.

There are at least two ways we can go from here. The first is for the industry to fund qualitative research, much as the radio industry has done. Right now the radio stations fund the rpm [Radio Product Measurement] study, much as magazines fund pmb. The tv industry may have to do this.

Or, people can start working together.

In Vancouver, the tv stations have purchased extra questions about tv program viewing in the Vancouver rpm study. Here’s a case where media are co-operating to fulfill the need for qualitative information in that market.

In the long term, there now exist totally passive people meters – someone introduced a wristwatch version at the arf/esomar worldwide broadcast audience research symposium in Toronto earlier this year -but they were all expensive, they were all in various forms of test, and none of them are sufficiently cost-efficient to gain wide acceptance at this time.