Nielsen Media Research ventures into fusion territory

Nielsen Media Research (NMR) has ventured into fusion territory with a new data linking system, and plans to have a data fusion program up and running with sister company ACNielsen early next year.

Nielsen Media Research (NMR) has ventured into fusion territory with a new data linking system, and plans to have a data fusion program up and running with sister company ACNielsen early next year.

Both products are designed to give advertisers a much more exact snapshot of their customers, says Mike Leahy, the new president of NMR.

He explains that data linking, which is currently available, allows individual advertisers to link their databases with the media measurement and household data from NMR’s people meter panel.

‘For example Pizza Pizza has a well-developed database based on the people ordering pizza from them,’ he says. ‘If they give us the phone numbers, we’ll give them [that] subset of our [people meter] panel so they’ll know who they are – the demographics of the home, what they’re watching and when they’re watching.

‘Then Pizza Pizza can start to separate and parse their database … [to find out if] people who buy pizza once a week [are] any different from those who buy it once a month, or those who spend so much on pizza in a year.’

Leahy says this data linking is conducted as a double blind to protect the confidentiality of both databases. NMR doesn’t see the client’s customer list and the client doesn’t know which of the numbers they’ve provided belong to people meter panel members.

Early in the new year, NMR will also introduce a fused product that will combine the people meter data with that of the Homescan study conducted by ACNielsen.

The Homescan panel scans all purchases – packaged goods as well as items such as electronics, pre-recorded videos, CDs and athletic footwear – to collect product usage data.

Information from similar Homescan and people meter households will be fused using common hooks such as geography, age, gender and income.

Leahy expects that periodic bar-coded ‘yes and no’ questionnaires will also go out to Homescan households to find out what television programs they watch.

‘If someone is a Cantel AT&T cell phone user, Bell Mobility will know where to find those people and find them more efficiently,’ says Leahy. ‘We also have the idea of presenting a more robust, qualitative product questionnaire to our people meter panel so the data can go both ways.’

There has also been some talk within the company about combining panels – Homescan and people meter – for a single source of information. Leahy says it has been done to a limited degree in the U.S., but he believes fusion will be the way to go in the near future in Canada.

Although NMR’s move to combine media and product usage is counter to what Canada’s media directors are actively working toward, Leahy believes there will always be a demand for proprietary research on top of the standard syndicated research.

‘There will be syndicated fusions where you will link our people meter data to the PMB (Print Measurement Bureau) database, but I think a lot of agencies would like to … get as much detailed information on their consumers as possible, and then link that in a proprietary database to a Nielsen or PMB set. There are too many generalities in syndicated fusion. I think both will be necessary.’

Hugh Dow, president of M2 Universal Media, says that while he will be watching what happens with NMR’s people meter data and ACNielsen’s Homescan, he doesn’t believe it will provide the sample size or comparable data that PMB can.

Dow is also head of the Canadian Media Directors Council (CMDC) committee, which is working within the industry to eliminate duplication of data in research, specifically the duplication of product usage data in all media measurement studies. This will enable industry members to take the best of all research and fuse it together into one usable database.

The CMDC has recently designated PMB to be the sole provider of product usage data. The proposal calls for PMB to split into two entities – one that continues to measure audience and the other that measures only product usage.

‘What we’re trying to do is create one sole provider of product usage data and to generate a much larger sample and hopefully get more frequent reporting as well,’ says Dow.

He adds that the CMDC and media owners regard PMB as the ‘gold standard of media measurement because of its history and high level of advertiser support.’ Therefore, it has been selected as the system or model to build on.

‘What we envisage is a blended system that doesn’t duplicate. The majority of questions in PMB, NADbank, RTS (BBM’s return to sample questionnaire) and even what the Canadian Community Newspaper Association is doing, there’s something like 65% duplication. That makes no sense at all and is very costly to the entire industry.’

The beauty of the CMDC vision, says Dow, is that all the media measurement companies can continue to do what they do best – measure media audience, which provides data that can be linked to PMB and other media research. Anything beyond that would be proprietary rather than required for syndication.

Dow says the CMDC committee expects to have most of the details of its plan sorted out by the end of the year and at that point will have a better idea of its cost.