Emerging Research Techniques Could Offer Targeting Gold

If just several years ago, mining for TV targeting gold seemed as tough as holding out a pan in a stream, it’s pretty impressive how many more modern options are emerging. Deciding the best route (or shows) to reach a target audience will never be perfect, but the science being applied to get as close as possible is profound. 

Take tools from multi-purpose firm Collective, which look at online behavior and can give advertisers and buying agencies direction in identifying shows with a large number of viewers “in the market” for a particular product or service. How nice for an airline to reach as many and visitors as it can, right?

Then, there’s Simulmedia, which can help a marketer navigate a reach-frequency balance with data on “light TV viewers." Instead of placing multiple spots in a show that might reach the same audience twice, a marketer might look elsewhere to hopefully reach a new crop.

There are also research services that help find shows with a heavy level of viewers with good credit scores, or those loyal to a brand of probiotic yogurt, or frequent social-media users.



Joe Abruzzo, the executive vice president of research at MPG, refers to all this as “new approaches that are available for assessing the many dimensions of television programming quality.” The output can inform decisions on upfront buying or make-goods requests, hopefully with more precision than just Nielsen numbers.

Abruzzo has been examining various targeting guides to help his agency, while also taking the lead in an effort by a part of the MPG Collaborative Alliance to evaluate various research options.

Abruzzo will make a presentation Wednesday at an Advertising Week MPG event offering up mock case studies on how different types of research might inform targeting efforts with shows on CBS.

The project took 15 CBS series and divided them into five groups based on their ratings levels. The three highest-rated series were “2 Broke Girls,” “Two and a Half Men” and “NCIS" -- which made up a “most-viewed quintile.” “Undercover Boss,” “Blue Bloods” and “Same Name” compromised a bucket of the lowest rated of the 15. And there were nine shows from “Criminal Minds” to “Big Brother” in between. The research was conducted using data from a month-long period starting in April and covering most of May.

Using data from New York-based Collective to help reach “in the market” consumers for a travel client, Abruzzo found heavily-viewed “NCIS” offered a large audience composition of people whose online behavior indicated a trip may be imminent. But so did “The Good Wife,” a much lower-rated show. (Not surprisingly, “The Amazing Race” offered the highest composition of potential travelers.)

Abruzzo said Collective offers an opportunity to bring Web-like retargeting to TV. “It’s taking the behavioral targeting to a different platform,” he said.

Simulmedia research can help identify shows with heavy concentrations of “light TV viewers,” a group that could be less likely to be exposed to a campaign. “Amazing Race” offered the best opportunity to reach light viewers by a long shot. A pair of lower-rated shows among the CBS group evaluated -- “The Good Wife” and “Undercover Boss” -- came in second and third.  

So, what’s a buyer to do? One option: look to air fewer spots on one of TV’s most-watched shows and shift the weight to other series that can grab harder-to-find consumers.

“Wouldn’t it be great if by doing that, you’re cost neutral, but reach extends?” Abruzzo said.

Another opportunity Abruzzo examined involved trying to identify shows delivering a chunk of viewers with good credit ratings. Rentrak has a system melding viewing information with credit-score data from Experian. Only 11% of the population is classified as “super prime” -- perhaps colloquially defined as the group mostly likely to pay up when buying your stuff.

So, where should a retailer or auto marketer looking for them run spots? Heavily viewed “NCIS” and “Criminal Minds” might be avoided. Among the 15 CBS shows evaluated, the pair have the highest concentration of viewers considered “high risk” by creditors. Much lesser-viewed “The Good Wife” and “Amazing Race” looked to offer the best chance to reach the "super prime" consumers. So did big hit “Two and a Half Men.”

What about engagement? “The more passionate people are the more (likely) they are to stay with the program and the more likely they are to see your commercial and have positive impressions of your brand,” Abruzzo said.

Abruzzo thinks there might be some potential there with Trendrr, a company that tracks social media conversation. One hypothesis is people who comment about a program long after it airs (tabbed "off-air activity") may be the most passionate about it.

Some of the most-watched shows led in “off-air” mentions. “Two and a Half Men” generates a lot of social media activity, but 81% of it came in that delayed fashion.

(Ashton Kutcher might keep people talking or, maybe more likely, there was a run of mentions during the research period about former “Two and a Half Men” star Charlie Sheen as the debut of his new comedy “Anger Management” approached.)

Other data Abruzzo looked at came from TiVo-owned TRA and Bluefin Labs. TRA, which looks to match purchase data with media exposure, helped identify shows with a higher level of viewers loyal to a probiotic yogurt brand. “The Good Wife” and “Person of Interest” led the CBS pack. Abruzzo said that’s not surprising with their appeal to older women.   

Marketers talk about paid, owned and earned media. Earned can be really valuable because it can carry a feel of authenticity with social-media brand ambassadors. Advertising in a show with a high percentage of social-media evangelists might lead to some positive mentions about a brand.

The heavily viewed comedy “Big Bang Theory” led Bluefin Labs' rankings in earned impressions by a wide margin, followed by “Criminal Minds” and “NCIS.”  The data can help find viewers who tweet and have heavy amounts of Twitter followers. "That's about propagating the message," Abruzzo said.

Abruzzo notes it’s tough to divine which of these services will be widely embraced. It’s likely different agencies will be more attached to certain ones. But he says “it’s all very exciting territory” and the industry is on a “very useful path.”

1 comment about "Emerging Research Techniques Could Offer Targeting Gold".
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  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, October 2, 2012 at 7:07 p.m.

    Talk about smoke and mirrors. We've had countless "emerging research techniques" offering targeting gold for more than a decade now and the only consumer behavior we can predict with any certainty is that which compels fully half of the TV audience to pay extra each month to avoid/eliminate the ads entirely while 60% of the real-time viewers jump online with a second screen (those "viewers who tweet and have heavy amounts of Twitter followers") during the commercial breaks.

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