MediaCheck is checking you out

The TV is watching you. Kind of.

The TV is watching you. Kind of.

A new TV research program called MediaCheck, from Tenafly, N.J.-based research company PreTesting, includes a decoder box equipped with a motion sensor that can tell if someone is in the room or not. And the decoder is audio-triggered, so it can monitor TV shows that have been pre-recorded with TiVos or time-shifted with digital cable, and record what time each program/commercial is viewed.

The decoder has a green light that flashes when a commercial has a corresponding online offer. Thanks to the decoder’s memory stick, viewers can transfer data to their computers to see all the online offers at their convenience. This feature helps advertisers figure out if their TV and online efforts are integrated well enough, as well as when and how viewers are watching programs. Viewers are encouraged to log in with their memory sticks daily to see if they’ve won a $50 prize.

‘You can keep watching your favourite shows, pull out the memory stick later, log in to see if you’ve won $50, and you’ll see a list of online offers that you’ve captured,’ explains Lee Weinblatt, CEO of PreTesting. ‘The idea is that we make it simple – you don’t have to search for things.’

PreTesting works with TV networks that offer the MediaCheck program to their advertisers. The networks are responsible for promoting the boxes on-air, inviting viewers to sign up for a chance to win prizes. Currently, PreTesting has network partners in Austin, Las Vegas and Milwaukee, and a network in San Diego has just ordered 25,000. Each market has an average sign-up rate of 500 households per week. PreTesting plans to continue rolling the program out across the States as well as begin working with networks in Canada sometime in the near future.

Advertisers pay 50 cents per coupon printed, and they are able to cap the number of coupons printed to fit their budgets. Burger King participated in a pilot version of MediaCheck last year and saw an unheard-of 53% coupon redemption rate.

Sony and Panasonic have told PreTesting they will consider embedding the decoder chips into their television sets if they can prove it’s something that networks and viewers want over the next two years. AB