Gemstar, Nielsen Set-Top Plan To Yield IGP Audience, Ad Data

At a time when Madison Avenue is clamoring for TV commercial ratings, a major interactive TV player Tuesday unveiled plans for two studies to see how digital set-top devices can be used to generate audience data for interactive program guides (IPG), including IPG-related advertising.

Andy Morris, vice president of ad sales research at Gemstar-TV Guide, said the two-way data trial would involve 550 set-top boxes in at least 300 homes in ten of Nielsen Media Research's top 50 markets. Gemstar-TV Guide is partnering with Nielsen in the trial, which would be installed by Nielsen field representatives in homes that have finished their local-market panel commitment.

The trial will begin late next month and results will be available sometime next year.

A second effort, without Nielsen's help, involves testing Gemstar-TV Guide's interactive program guides as an ad measurement tool utilizing digital cable systems. Gemstar-TV Guide will have 50 households in a market during the first round of the trial, with nine more markets and an unspecified number of homes with the assistance of several MSOs. The digital-cable initiative will begin sometime in early 2004.



Gemstar-TV Guide's announcement was part of a presentation at the beginning of the second day of the Advertising Research Federation's Week of Workshops being held through Thursday at the Crowne Plaza in New York City's Times Square.

Two types of IPGs are in place in the TV universe, including 10.2 million households with digital cable using TV Guide Interactive and another 11.4 million homes with Guide Plus. There are about 60 advertisers.

Morris said the information from the Nielsen test will help Gemstar-TV Guide to solidify the knowledge it has already gained in recall studies conducted earlier. A study by Lieberman Research Worldwide found that among TV Guide IPG users, it's the main source used for TV program information 67% of the time. Thirteen percent channel surf as their main source and 10% use TV Guide Channel. The study finds that 75% use IPGs when they first watch TV, compared to 74% who use it on the half hour or hour, 57% when they're bored with what they're watching and 50% during commercial breaks.

The Nielsen Media Research partnership was announced in April 2001 to research interactive program guides and interactive TV.

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