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.

Zulu grows its team and makes a slate of promotions

A director of interactive production for Zulubot is among dozens of new faces and roles at the agency, in response to recent wins.
Zulu Alpha Kilo_New Zuligans

Toronto indie shop Zulu Alpha Kilo had made several new hires and promotions on the heels of new business and also organic growth from existing clients.

Zulu could not officially announce the account wins at this time.

However, it can report that Ece Inan, most recently at Toronto design and tech shop Array of Stars, has been named the agency’s new director of interactive production for Zulubot, the agency’s production arm. In the new role, Inan will lead AR, VR, voice and other digital innovation projects.

Also on the production side, James Graham, who has spent the last 17 years with Grip, has joined the agency as its studio director.

Zulu has also made numerous additions on the client services side, led by Michael Brathwaite, also from Grip, as account director.

It’s also announced a spate of new account supervisors, including Hayley Blackmore (from G Adventures), Risa Kastelic (from BT/A), Kara Oddi (also from BT/A), Emily Anzarouth (also from Grip), Chris Rosario (from FCB/Six) and Sarah Shiff (from Rethink).

In addition to the new hires (pictured above), the agency has also announced several promotions: Alyssa Guttman moves from account director to group account director, while Nina Bhayana, Michelle Fournier, Jenn Gaidola-Sobral and Erin McManus have all been promoted to account director, and Haley Holm to account supervisor. On the strategy team, strategists Carly Miller and Spencer MacEachern have both been promoted to strategy director, while Shaunagh Farrelly, who has been with Zulu for two years in a client service role, moves into a new role as a digital strategist.

In December, the shop also announced that Stephanie Yung would be returning to the agency after a stint in New York as its head of design. Recent wins the agency has been able to announce including work as AOR for the Ottawa Senators, as well as a new arrangement with existing client Consonant Skincare, setting up an in-house team to support growth after taking an equity stake in the company.

Zulu president Mike Sutton says it’s wonderful, in a new year, to welcome new faces and energy to the team and says the agency is fortunate to have had so many people across the agency step up to support its clients.

“Simply put, they were rock stars, and the promotions are very well deserved,” Sutton says.