Harris cross-indexing method

Responding to a call by advertisers and agencies for more qualitative data, a Toronto company that designs microcomputer-based media planning systems has found a way to relate television viewing data to lifestyle information.Designed by Harris Media Systems, the Television Spending Index...

Responding to a call by advertisers and agencies for more qualitative data, a Toronto company that designs microcomputer-based media planning systems has found a way to relate television viewing data to lifestyle information.

Designed by Harris Media Systems, the Television Spending Index cross-references data collected by audience research firm A.C. Nielsen with lifestyles information collected by market research firm Compusearch, to provide advertisers and agencies with a better idea which programs will work best against their product.

Bob Harris, president of Harris Media Systems, says the index allows for two basic types of analysis.

A ‘lifestyles analysis’ reflects how the viewers of various programs are distributed across the 12 lifestyle categories indexed by Compusearch.

The system makes it possible to determine whether a program skews high or low against each lifestyle.

A ‘spending profile analysis’ reflects how the viewers of various programs spend their income on specific products.

Compare spending habits

The system makes it possible to compare the spending habits of each program’s viewers with the spending habits of an entire population.

‘As a result, we can determine if a particular show skews high or low in terms of dollars spent,’ Harris says. ‘And we can do that for specific products.’

Further, Harris says the system can develop estimates of the total amount spent in a market by the viewers of a particular show.

‘So it’s not just who is watching, but who is watching by lifestyle, and how much do they actually spend on this product I am offering the market,’ he says.

The key to linking the two sets of data is the postal code.

Individual Nielsen respondents are indexed by postal code. The system then looks for a match in the Compusearch data, to establish a neighborhood profile that links television viewing and lifestyle data.

While Harris admits that not everyone in a neighborhood will have exactly the same program tastes or spending patterns, he says there is a considerable degree of homogeneity.

‘As a general rule, the way people live is determined by the district in which they live,’ he says.

Calling the concept magical, Harris says the index has been enthusiastically received since its introduction to the market last year.

‘I think a measure of our clients’ enthusiasm can be gauged by the fact that this system is not a low-priced product,’ Harris says, adding the system can cost an advertiser or television station $30,000 to $50,000 a year.

Subscribers include the CTV Television Network, TeleMetropole and tv specialty services tsn and CBC Newsworld.