Bob Warrens, director of Mediamark’s MRI+ program, knows all about gathering data from dozens of rate cards, making those last-minute phone calls, and after all that, trying to organize and compare the information to put together the best campaign for a client. As longtime research director of J. Walter Thompson, he remembers 20-person research staffs, file cabinets full of media kits, and the countless details involved in getting the right piece of information for a proposal.
MRI+ takes all that information, adds the search and comparison capabilities computer databases are famous for, and wraps it all in a cost-planning module that Mediamark hopes will become indispensable for planners and buyers.
“Planners go to a dozen different places when they’re designing plans for magazines,” Warrens says. “[MRI+ is] truly designed to alleviate some problems we saw in terms of access to data in the magazine business, and have it available in one place.”
Mediamark tabulates audience and product-usage data from a sampling of 27,000 households. It started the MRI+ project a little over four years ago, first with a regularly updated CD and now with a constantly updated Web database. MRI+ is free to ad agencies and publishers, both on CD and at www.mriplus-online.com.
The database gathers all the information found in a magazine’s media kit: rate files, circulation data (thanks to a contract with the Audit Bureau of Circulation), publishers, editorial calendars, profiles, and summary data from Mediamark’s audience data. There’s room for more information and links to the magazine’s websites, plus a search function.
“It’s a library of all those key planning elements,” Warrens says. The cost module allows planners to put together proposals based on insertions and discount levels, then export them into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or their own planning system.
All planners have to do is log on to get the “one-stop shopping” benefits. “That’s the whole intent of the system,” Warrens says. And the electronic format allows for easy comparison between magazines.
“Our intent is a system that provides the kind of space for magazines where they can present all the information they think is important to planners,” he says.
Mediamark sees a future where the MRI+ system is standard, the portal to all of its other products. “We’re on our way to someting much larger,” Warrens says.
One organization that’s backing the MRI+ is the Magazine Publishers of America, the consumer magazine industry’s association.
“Electronic media kits are fast replacing the paper kits that we’ve known for so long,” said Wayne Eadie, SVP/Research at the Magazine Publishers of America. “MPA wants a system that is timely, accurate, and easy to use.” MRI+ seems to be just that.
Research veteran Warrens says, “I wish I had it back in my agency days.”