NBC-Toyota: Upfront Deal On Program Engagement

Toyota Motors Sales' deal with NBC to guarantee its media buys based on "program-engagement" data opens up a new way to analyze program performance. Some low-rated shows are getting high marks and possibly high ad dollars.

Toyota is the first company to make a deal with a broadcast network based on program engagement data. Recently, Publicis Groupe's Starcom USA struck a deal with The Weather Channel; last year Starcom made one with Court TV. The carmaker's deal with NBC is for its entire upfront buy.

IAG Research provides its clients, including Toyota, with engagement data. IAG surveys a constantly changing panel of 5,000 Internet respondents who are asked 10-12 in-depth questions concerning plot and story specifics of a typical TV show. Each show is then given a score.

Recent program-engagement data surprised both networks and IAG clients. The results don't necessarily match up with the most-viewed TV shows--key information advertisers learn when using program engagement.



For example, the top TV household score for any network is with CBS' relatively modest-rated "How I Met Your Mother." The show scored 85%--that's the percentage of questions respondents get right about the show.

Coming in second and third, respectively, were ABC's shows 'Lost" and "Desperate Housewives." After that is Bravo's "Project Greenlight." In fifth place was the low-rated and quickly cancelled Fox reality show, "The Princes of Malibu."

Looking at just the four broadcast networks for adults ages 18-49, NBC had the seventh and eighth best shows: the cancelled "Four Kings" and "My Name is Earl." Both had a score of 84%.

Media executives say IAG data should be used in conjunction with standard Nielsen Media Research program ratings to get a complete picture of a TV show's performance. IAG has said there is a high correlation between someone who is engaged in a program and the commercials run in that program.

Just like standard viewer guarantee deals for advertisers, if NBC fails to meet guarantees, the network would give Toyota additional ad time. Other advertisers, such as Verizon Wireless and Johnson & Johnson, are looking to strike program-engagement guarantee type deals.

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