Tools and Resources

  • by December 20, 2002
Future Tool
MRI+ Connects Electronic Media K

by Paul J. Gough

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

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.”

CurrentThinking Brand Consonance

We know brand dissonance happens when your product’s ad message backfires. And brand resonance happens when an ad campaign truly finds an emotional target. But brand consonance?

The concept is at the heart of a new research model developed by Brand Keys, a New York-based media research firm that has made its mark with brand loyalty work.

Brand consonance, at its simplest, is when the ad target most optimally finds its best delivery vehicles. The model tries to address the nagging concern that accompanies every complete media plan: "Am I in the right media? The right show? On the right websites? Did I miss anything?"

"Companies don’t have as many media dollars to allocate as they did in the past," says Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys CEO. "Advertisers get fewer arrows to hit receding consumer targets. Worse still, it’s harder to be sure which bull’s-eyes really count."

Brand consonance is designed to work with TV, radio and the Internet. The best way to explain brand consonance is to see it in action. Brand Keys recently worked with a high-end kitchen hardware manufacturer to determine the proper brand consonance in magazines. The brand’s agency recommended Vanity Fair and People as the most effective print vehicles.

By surveying 16,000 consumers in the prospective target market, Brand Keys found that the magazines that had the best brand-to-media consonance, or the magazines that consumers most expect favorably view the product, were Traditional Home, Vanity Fair, Martha Stewart Living and Sunset. Three of the most effective publications for the brand would have been left off the plan.

"The job of a planner and buyer is tougher than ever," says Passikoff. "We hope this way of thinking can make it easier."

StartupCloseup: In Touch Weekly
Magazine hopes to snag Internet generation.
by Paul J. Gough

In Touch Weekly is the latest from Bauer, which also publishes Women’s World and For Women First. It’s meant to satisfy Generation X and Y’s seemingly endless fascination with Hollywood celebrities — familiar ground trodden by People, Us, and Entertainment Weekly, available at checkout counters across the country. The first weekly issue will go on sale in October.

But In Touch Weekly is setting itself apart by targeting an audience that skews much younger than People or Us, which cater to a wide audience from 18 to 54 and beyond. "There really has not been a [celebrity-news] magazine targeted to the Generation X population," says David Jackson, group publisher for The Magazine Consultancy Inc., which will handle the magazine for Bauer. Jackson says the target audience — adults 18 to 34 — has grown up with the trappings of technology: cell phones, the Internet, email, and hundreds of cable TV channels. To appeal to them, a magazine has to be upbeat and fast-paced. That’s what he says In Touch will try to capture.

"The name In Touch makes sense for our readers," Jackson says. The demographics skew heavily female (70%), with a median household income of $60,132. More than three quarters of the magazine’s potential readers work; almost that many attended college. Half have children in the home and 44% are married. To reach them, In Touch plans a mix of photographs and shorter stories, providing many points of entry into each page. There will be quick-bite-size pieces of information, along with some more detailed stories.

A prototpe produced by Bauer said each issue will be about 100 pages; it’s been intensively test marketed. Comment on the prototype included how it doesn’t take a long time to go through the articles, the quality of the pictures and it’s relevance. “It’s for my generation and has more about the people I’m interested in.”

"The Hollywood connection is a fun one," Jackson says. He says a typical In Touch feature would cover the Oscars from several different angles. The focus is on entertainment and celebrity news, but in a more reputable way than some of the tabloids you might find at checkout counters. "In Touch is written with heart, soul, and integrity," reads material from the media kit. "It’s entertainment news wrapped with depth and intrigue." Other features will include health and beauty, home and family, and inspirational stories of celebrities and average people overcoming the odds. Jackson says the beauty section will show how to get "the look of a star on your own budget."

The editorial staff will be based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. It’s still being assembled, although the editor in chief is Richard Spencer, who helped launch J-14 magazine and was an editor at Soap Opera Update. Both are Bauer titles. Bauer hopes to snag readers of its teen magazines when they grow up and start looking for an age-appropriate magazine. Bauer plans a rate base of 250,000, which is guaranteed through June 2003. The open rate is $17,500, with charter offers available. The national distribution targets 90% newsstand penetration. The cover price is $1.99.

The Magazine Consultancy has been reaching out to the advertising community and is in the process of hiring 10 sales reps for In Touch. Product categories include automotive, fashion, beauty, entertainment, and food/beverage.

To reach The Magazine Consultancy, call (212) 764-3344 or email

HowTo . . . Sponsor a Stock Car
NASCAR efforts require a lot of homework.
by Seth Fineberg

If you are looking to target the highly brand-loyal NASCAR audience and you have never done it before, you will quickly learn there is a lot more to it than just painting up a stock car.

Not long ago a car covered in logos or a full branded paint job was about all you could do with stock cars. Now, racing teams and NASCAR itself are more active in working with agencies to educate them about all of the possibilities available to a brand and to design an appropriate package.

“The first thing an advertiser has to realize is that this is not just like making a media buy,” says Bill Scott, director of marketing, VP of marketing at Petty Enterprises, one of the 43 NASCAR racing teams. “Figuring out all of the business opportunities to use NASCAR takes time and work. Most importantly, if you do not enter into [the racing world] with a clear set of objectives, it’s not going to be successful.” Scott says he now has a staff of 12 working with agencies to make sure they understand everything that comes with getting a brand on a car.

Beyond having a clear objective, one of the first things a buyer should do is contact NASCAR directly. The organization has an office in New York that deals with agency queries and can set up necessary meetings with the racing teams.

“Once an agency calls us, we will walk them through what is involved with sponsorship, let them know what teams have what availabilities and facilitate the meetings,” says Andrew Fiet, NASCAR’s director of new business and industry relations. Fiet says that once a media buyer narrows down to three to five teams they may want to work with, NASCAR will contact those teams to get a package designed. He did stress, however, that NASCAR will never negotiate on behalf of a sponsor or a team.

Fiet also says that there are indeed a lot of possibilities for a sponsor, and ultimately what they get depends, quite simply, on what an advertiser wants out of the deal. Sponsorships typically last one to three years. Here are just a few of the “opportunities” a sponsor can explore as well as some estimated costs.

  • Logos on a B-post (the area on the outside of the car right behind the driver’s head) or C-post (the angular post that runs to the trunk of the car): This is a non-exclusive area where other brand logos can exist. Costs average $200K to $500K, which typically includes some driver appearances (photo shoots, TV, or events).
  • Quarter panel logos: Can range from $750K to $2 million. Also can include driver appearances.
  • Primary package: Entire car painted and team uniforms, signage on large transporter trucks, five to 10 appearances by driver, and hospitality (chalet and tents at the track). The details of this kind of deal as well as others are negotiated. Typical costs can range from $8- to $15 million.

The racing teams and sponsors ultimately decide the packages and costs, not NASCAR. The racing season customarily lasts from mid-February to mid-November, and Fiet stresses that the best time to start working on a deal for the 2003 season is now. He also says that once agreements are signed, the teams usually work fast to get all of the necessary signage in place.

To contact NASCAR’s Andrew Fiet, call 212-754-3000 or email him at

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