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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

MediaPost Publications - Nielsen Seeks To Engage Clients, Unveils Engagement Panel - 03/15/2006

MediaPost Publications - Nielsen Seeks To Engage Clients, Unveils Engagement Panel - 03/15/2006
Nielsen Seeks To Engage Clients, Unveils Engagement Panel
by Joe Mandese, Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 7:45 AM EST
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SEEKING TO ENGAGE CLIENTS DURING the opening session an annual two-day meeting in Orlando on Tuesday, Nielsen Media Research released plans for measuring one of the hottest subjects in the TV advertising business: audience engagement. As part of the plan, Nielsen said it would launch a separate panel next month comprised of households and individuals who are retired from its people meter ratings panel to participate in the engagement research. Households normally stay in Nielsen's people meter panels for two-year intervals, and then are replaced by new panelists. Nielsen has always considered the old panelists a valuable asset for ancillary research projects, because they are already installed with metering technology, they have agreed to participate in TV audience research, and because they have up to two-years worth of conventional TV audience measurement data, but this is the first time it will be utilizing them as part of an ongoing research endeavor. Nielsen has a policy of not conducting tests via its "live" ratings panel due to concerns that it could influence natural viewing behavior that would impact TV ratings.
Once they leave the official ratings panel, the new engagement panelists will continue to have their TV viewing behavior metered, but will also participate in periodic phone surveys to measure the connection between what they watch on TV and their recall, awareness and attitudes toward brands and products advertised on TV.

The new Nielsen engagement panel comes as Madison Avenue has become transfixed with engagement metrics as a solution to growing concerns that people avoid advertising. An industry-wide task force known as MI4 is expected to release its definition for engagement next week during the Advertising Research Foundation's annual conference in New York.

MI4, which describes the engagement effort as the "search for the 21st Century GRPs," a reference to Nielsen's conventional "gross rating points," has been using a working definition of media engagement as: "Engagement is turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding media context."

Nielsen is by no means the only researcher to jump into engagement measurement. IAG Research has made that the core focus of its measurement of TV programming, advertising and even product placement, and is expected to expand that soon into other forms of media such as online and print.

Nielsen Senior Vice President-Client Insights Howard Shimmel has been alluding to a Nielsen solution for much of the past year, and had been known to be championing an alternate panel concept.

Nielsen clients, meanwhile, have been developing their own solutions, especially spunky cable networks like Court TV and The Weather Channel, including a variety of custom studies, analysis of conventional Nielsen ratings, and even minute-by-minute ratings analyses.

During the first day of its annual client meetings, Nielsen also announced that it has committed to fund its so-called Council For Research Excellence for a second year for an additional $2.5 million. The council, which as yet to yield any research, currently is evaluating proposals for primary and methodological research, including a study that would measure the impact of the simultaneous use of media.

During Tuesday's session, Nielsen also updated clients on its so-called "extended home" sample, including the measurement of TV viewing done by members of Nielsen households residing on college campuses.

During today's final half-day session, Nielsen CEO Susan Whiting will deliver a keynote on "The Digital Consumer," and how Nielsen plans to measure their media behavior, followed by an overview on the "consumer technology landscape," including digital video recorders and video on demand, as well as long-term research methods and technology solutions by Nielsen's chief research and technology executives.

The event concludes with an open forum discussion between Nielsen clients and Whiting, which is typically a lively exchange.

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