In last week's column I wrote about the television industry's continued search for supplements to -- and ultimately, replacements for -- the dead weight (i.e., the "Bernie" of "Weekend at Bernie's") of traditional media measurement: age-sex demos.
This week I want to show you why more and more buyers and sellers of media are moving away from using current currency by itself and toward more actionable set-top-box data paired with other types of data: behavior-based, and -- for our purposes here -- purchase-based.
Because if you take a close look at a single product category, and compare the story told by ratings indices derived from Purchase Ratings Points (PRPs) to that told by Plain Old Ordinary Ratings points (from age-sex demos, hereafter referred to as POOR points), you'll be shocked by how differently they end.
So let's dig in, to yogurt. Yes, yogurt -- a $210 million television-advertising market. But have you ever thought about who the target audience is for yogurt marketers? Go ahead, guess. If you said -- based perhaps on Jamie Lee Curtis' Activia-driven comeback -- that most yogurt buyers are women, you'd be right.
So historically, marketers have spent that $210 million targeting women 25 to 54. End of story for the POOR points.
But as there are many types of yogurt-eaters, so too are there many types and brands of yogurt. And in order to find the right audience for your particular brand and type of yogurt, you need to understand a few things about your audience.
POOR points might tell you what your audience is like, but who are they as individuals? Where are they? What do they like to do (besides watch television)? What do they like to buy?
The chart below shows which prime-time shows actual purchasers of two types of yogurt were most likely to tune into last week, as PRP-based indices (a relative measure).
If you're looking for a Greek-yogurt-buying audience, the strategy is clear: Go with "30 Rock." But if you're selling Yoplait? You might want to spread your spend around a bit more: "Desperate Housewives," "Grey's Anatomy," and "Brothers & Sisters" are also great bets.
POOR points can't tell you that. POOR points by their very nature introduce waste into your media plan, and that costs you money. This money can be redeployed to programs that offer you the right audience: viewers who actually buy the products being advertised.
And that's what the new generation of industry solutions does. They deliver actionable information based on real data, and that's why they're fast becoming the providers of the new industry vehicle for media buying and selling. That's why networks, advertisers, and marketers looking for a renewed level of accountability in their media strategy are turning away from POOR points and in the direction of metrics like the PRP-based indices above.
That's not to say that POOR points are -- for lack of a better term -- pointless; they're still relevant insofar as they will continue to provide validation of your data-driven approach. But to understand how a program rates for a particular type of purchaser, you need actionable data, and you need accountability. You're not going to get that from the POOR guys.