Targeting: Lost in the Supermarket

Targeting:LostintheSupermarket-BruceGoerlichIt may be not the first thought that pops to mind, but TV viewing is an awful lot like a trip to the grocery store. First off, grocery stores still command the greatest share of food purchases, although that share has declined. TV is still the No. 1 medium people spend time with: TV still clocks in at over four and a half hours per day for adults and three hours a day for teens.

In the grocery store, consumers don't buy everything. There is a standard set of products they consume, a regular set of aisles they go down. Grocery stores have gotten bigger, offering more choices - 285 varieties of cookies, as reported in Barry Schwartz's The Paradox of Choice. Yet, while the variety of cookies has increased, the average number of cookie brands purchased has remained stable, according to MRI.

The same is happening with TV. The average number of receivable channels has increased 60 percent to 119 per home, while the average number watched has only gone up 17 percent to 16 per home. Even in households with the highest number of channels receivable, an average of 169.5 channels, only 19.2 are watched.

Just as packaged-goods manufacturers now think in terms of "shopper marketing" - the discrete aisles, product consideration sets, the shelf choices that shoppers make based on size, purpose of the shopping trip, and immediate product needs - media planners need to think in terms of "viewer marketing," understanding viewers' discrete choices, on TV, online, and on mobile devices. What are the drivers of viewing choices?

Traditionally, the media industry has focused on demographics, selling and buying programs on the basis of appeal to age and sex, with a dollop of income and ethnicity skews thrown in the mix. This is akin to stores knowing the appeal of kids' cereals to moms, or hand-held frozen snacks to kids.

The media business can also identify the "aisles" that viewers go down. ZenithOptimedia, working with SMRB and Nielsen, has identified the core segments of viewers that cluster around specific programs - from "Sarcastics," who skew heavily to comedy-
oriented cable programming, to "Real Adventurers," primetime reality buffs. Using these segments, we can maximize reach (by spreading buys across programs), or emphasize frequency (concentrating buys), and have direct links to product purchases. It helps us understand the value of the "aisle," or the program.

How much attention viewers pay on their way down the aisle - as they watch shows - is also becoming part of the currency. ZenithOptimedia offers an engagement tool that combines who is watching (the right people), with how well commercials hold them (watching the ads), with program involvement (persistence of viewing). IAG has a solid business on tracking commercial recall on programs, a metric that ZenithOptimedia has used with its subscribing clients.

Less clear in the world of video is an understanding of the motivations for viewing - which, while apparently simple to identify, are hard to quantify:

To gain knowledge or information: The primary appeal of news and documentary programs is now a primary driver of the Web.

To be "passively" entertained: Escape, the primary appeal of TV 1.0.

To be "actively" entertained: Watching a sports game, texting a vote for American Idol, commenting on a video on YouTube.

Affirmation and community: See people like yourself on TV, enhancing your self-worth and sense of belonging. Today, it's a partial motivation for Hispanic channels and GBLT programming, and a very large part of user-generated video content on the Web.

Family Connection: TV used to be the "electronic hearth" for families. In fact, the highest-rated shows continue to be those with a broad appeal and significant levels of co-viewing.

Stocking the "aisles" of video opportunities is easier when advertisers, planners and buyers all keep these questions in mind: What programs should cluster together? Who's watching? What is their motivation for viewing? Does the creative message reflect the mindset of viewers? And can I get a double redemption on this coupon, please?

Bruce Goerlich is president of strategic resources, North America, at ZenithOptimedia. (
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