Horizon Media, the New York-based independent media shop, said today it was launching a new research effort called the “Horizon Proving Ground” in partnership with low power TV station WNCE-TV, an independent low-power TV station in Saratoga Springs-Glen Falls, New York. And additional station partners will follow.
As part of the arrangement with WNCE, known as Look TV, Horizon bought an undisclosed stake in the station, which has about 300,000 viewers. According to Horizon CEO Bill Koenigsberg, the agency plans to invest in a handful of additional LPTV outlets, expanding the potential test audience to upwards of 2 million and creating a proving ground network. He expects to complete two more agreements by the third quarter, he said.
“Several agencies have put media labs in their offices,” said Koenigsberg. “This one is out in the marketplace.”
The agency said the “Horizon Proving Ground” would provide a testing opportunity for new technologies and consumer and social media sentiment, as well as channel planning and engagement theories for Horizon and its clients.
Several Horizon clients have already indicated they will use the new research facility -- including Geico, which is likely to test different versions of commercials to determine which go over best with audiences, said Koeningsberg.
The History Channel, another client, plans to test program pilots and concepts via Proving Ground.
Koeningsberg said the research operation could test all sorts of “creative and theoretical strategies” for clients. Among them will be a number of retail offers to better understand consumer purchase motivation.
Some of the testing will be conducted through the station's site. Horizon is also working with MegaPhone Labs to deploy interactive mobile capability for additional real-time testing capability.
In addition to revenue from the Horizon investments, the agency -- which has complete control over the Proving Ground operation -- will also share at least some findings with the participating stations. “Potentially stations can learn more about the likes and dislikes of their audiences,” said Koenigsberg.