NBC sifts Olympic TV/Web viewer data to plan ads
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - NBC Universal will present a sweeping new study this week showing that audiences recall advertisements far more clearly when they are run on both TV and the Internet, findings that could change the way commercial time is bought.
Findings from the research, undertaken by NBC during its broadcast of the Olympic Games, will be unveiled on Wednesday to top executives from the advertising industry, which has become increasingly concerned about return on the $70 billion spent annually to buy TV commercial time.
"We really are trying to understand the new world, we really want to be ahead of the curve," NBC Universal's President of Research Alan Wurtzel, who headed up the research effort, said in an exclusive interview that included a first look at the research. "The Olympics was a petri dish."
NBC found that brand recall -- remembering the name of the product or company -- increased more than 30 percent among viewers when an advertisement ran on TV and the Internet, rather than TV alone; message recall -- remembering the main idea -- increased 41 percent when the ad ran in both places.
"When it comes to cross-platform, the consumer now expects it. You've got to play in this world," said Wurtzel.
The study, he said, found that over half of all Olympic site visitors used TV and the Web simultaneously at least once. What's more, 10 percent of that audience reported "regular" simultaneous use of both media.
But evidence also shows that an overwhelming majority of the audience only watched the Summer Games on TV, and that many of those who went to the website sought information like athlete biographies rather than video footage.
"Just because we're trying to move to video, don't think that static content is unimportant," he said. "It's very important. You've got to keep it direct and easy to use. And that pertains to the 'Heroes' website or the 'Lost' website."
CRACKING THE CODE
By most standards, NBC's broadcast of the Olympics was a booming success. NBC, majority owned by General Electric (GE.N), sold more than $1 billion in commercial time, and notched record viewership. NBC also has the rights to the Vancouver Winter Games and the London Summer Games.
But Olympics occur only every two years, and the TV network is more concerned with drawing advertisers and audiences to the newscasts, prime-time programs and late night shows that are its bread and butter.
NBC's primetime schedule, in particular, has struggled in recent years, regularly finishing behind News Corp's NWSa.N Fox, CBS Corp's (CBS.N) CBS, and Walt Disney Co's (DIS.N) ABC in audience ratings.
Now, NBC hopes to use some of its research to shape how it presents content on the Web and TV. Also, the research could change how deals for commercial time are structured -- accelerating interest in multi-platform ad packages.
One innovation from the Olympics that will be used elsewhere is NBC's Total Audience Measurement Index (TAMI), a metric that highlights viewership across different platforms.
"What we intend to do is report the delivery from a TAMI perspective for every program -- on the network, on cable -- that has a cross-platform initiative," Wurtzel.
Another breakthrough from NBC is what's called single source measurement -- or tracking one person's use of TV, the Web and mobile devices.
In this case, NBC and research partner Integrated Media Measurement Inc recruited 40 Olympic fans and equipped them with cell phones that can track what a person watches on TV, the Web or the phone.
As a result, NBC was able to follow exactly how a few dozen of its viewers watched the Olympics from the time they woke up until they went to bed.
That could include, for instance, watching Olympic highlights on the "Today" show in the morning; video over the Web during the workday; clips on a cell phone during the commute; and network prime-time coverage in the evening.
"We sort of cracked the code here," Wurtzel said. "We never saw this kind of data. We assumed, but we didn't know."
The NBC research chief added: "I think we're seeing the future of how we're going to measure this stuff. Maybe it will be IMMI (Integrated Media Measurement Inc), maybe it will be someone else. But the ability to follow one person this way is unique and nobody else has done it."
(Editing by Gary Hill)
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