Portable People Meter takes measurement out of home

Thomas Mocarsky has seen the future of audience measurement, and it is portable. Mocarsky, vice-president of communications with Columbia, Md.-based media research firm Arbitron, says his company's Portable People Meter will be able to gauge what people are watching and listening...

Thomas Mocarsky has seen the future of audience measurement, and it is portable.

Mocarsky, vice-president of communications with Columbia, Md.-based media research firm Arbitron, says his company’s Portable People Meter will be able to gauge what people are watching and listening to even when they’re not at home.

‘The person is exposed to all kinds of media and environments,’ says Mocarsky. ‘This is giving us a lock on what the out-of-home audience is.’

Mocarsky says the technology will also allow advertisers to track a person’s media consumption habits across all broadcast media, rather than simply track the signal of a single media appliance, as current systems do.

‘TV, radio, cable, satellite, Internet – it’s measured together, it’s one sample, and all the measures are completely comparable.’

The PPM is a small, pager-sized device that relies on audio encoding of broadcast signals to track an individual’s consumption of television, radio or Internet programming.

The concept was first introduced to the Canadian marketing industry in 1992, but at the time, the PPM was thought to be too unwieldy and its battery life too short for practical consideration.

Since that time, Arbitron has fine-tuned the technology to the point where it was successfully tested in Manchester, England. The company plans a further ‘showcase’ test later this year in the U.S., Mocarsky says. The battery life of the unit has been increased to 22 hours, and that is expected to increase further, he says, thanks to the demands of the cellular and PCS phone industry.

In Canada, BBM Bureau of Measurement holds the rights to Arbitron’s PPM technology. Both BBM and competitor Nielsen Media Research currently use systems that measure all forms of television, including Web-enabled TV. But neither BBM’s Picture Matching technology, which relies on video recognition, nor Nielsen’s Tuner Probe technology, which recognizes broadcast signals, can provide information on media consumption outside the home or measure other media such as radio.

David Bray, senior vice-president of Hennessy, Bray & Reade Communications and its RadioWorks division, is a supporter of people meters and looks forward to the day when they can also measure radio audiences.

He says the current system, whereby respondents log their listening habits in paper diaries, is less than reliable when it comes to tracking men in the 18-24 demographic.

‘It’s strictly a factor of that particular segment not filling in ballots. There always been lower compliance,’ he says.

BBM remains committed to its Picture Matching technology, but Ron Bremner, vice-president of television for BBM, says the system is flexible and can easily be augmented by newer technology.

At Nielsen Media Research, Mike Leahy, group vice-president sales and marketing, says his company has a project underway to develop systems that will measure across media. But whether the resulting technology will be portable is too early to say.

‘We firmly believe that there will be some instances where broadcasters will not encode, and instances where the code doesn’t survive compression. If there’s no code to pick up, you need a back up,’ says Leahy.

‘Our focus is to make sure you don’t lose any data. The portability of it – that’s something for the future.’

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Meanwhile, BBM has signed multi-year deals with a number of broadcasters and agencies in support of the national rollout of its people meter service this fall.

All Canadian conventional broadcasters, with the notable exception of CBC, along with several specialty channels and ad agencies have inked five-year contracts with the tripartite organization.

BBM, which has a 500-home meter panel in Vancouver, will add 750 homes in Ontario and 365 in Quebec.

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.