NielsenConnect's head researcher, Paul Donato, speaking at the Advertising Research Foundation's annual conference at the New York Marriott Marquis on Tuesday, noted that Nielsen mounted a similar effort five years ago with its Fusion project, which fell flat because of structural flaws.
Since then, Nielsen has expanded its capabilities to a degree that allows truly integrated media measurement. Specifically, Donato said the company now has access to panels large enough for Internet measurement, which requires much larger sample sizes than TV. Nielsen's NetRating's MegaPanel now includes 130,000 households; the NetView panel counts 20,000 members.
The foundation of NielsenConnect will be a key group of about 4,000 panelists who submit to both TV and Internet measurement, providing single-source data on the interaction of these media. The findings can then be extrapolated to the full 12,000-household TV panel and 130,000-household MegaPanel with Nielsen's proprietary techniques. This approach has the advantage of "starting and ending" with Nielsen's established currencies for the two areas, Donato added, thus maintaining transparency throughout the process.
After this core program is up and running, NielsenConnect will roll out a HUB component, which allows it to measure its panelists' interactions with other media, including print and outdoor advertising. Nielsen's new outdoor-measurement system relies on the nPod, a GPS tracking device which subjects carry for nine days as they commute and walk in public spaces. The nPod overlays travel patterns with the range of visibility for out-of-home advertising installations to calculate message exposure.
Rather than burden its current panelists with more measurement devices, Nielsen will collect the additional data from panelists who are retiring from the TV or Internet panels after their two-year contract expires.
With a wealth of data documenting their recent media habits over a multi-year period, NielsenConnect will combine this information with their out-of-home ad exposure and print consumption through a final battery of measurements. (It will be done, presumably, by offering additional incentives for this cooperation.) This data can then be extrapolated to current panels with a variety of statistical techniques.
Peter Doe, vice-president of analytics and modeling, said clients will gain access to all of Nielsen's 23 databases focusing on specific consumer segments, though he expects most won't need access to more than two or three at a time. Doe then discussed an early test run of the program in Chicago, where Nielsen tested its nPod service in conjunction with other forms of measurement in May 2006.
Combining this with a database describing typical automobile consumers, NielsenConnect was able to detail the relative exposure to various media experienced by various car consumers. For example, people likely to buy a midsized SUV versus a full-sized car. Nielsen found the former category had relatively more exposure to outdoor and Internet messages, while the latter showed more TV exposure. Doe speculated these results were probably related to age and gender characteristics.