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AdCom makes next move on Nielsen

Dec 3, 2001  •  Post A Comment

AdCom Information Services, the local cable audience measurement service that claims Nielsen Media Research consistently underreports cable viewing and that its own methods are more effective, is adding two new markets, Sacramento, Calif., and Cleveland, bringing its total to five.
Nielsen professes to be unconcerned.
AdCom, based in Deerfield Beach, Fla., says that it meters three to five times as many homes as Nielsen in each of its markets, that all of its homes are wired-cable subscribers, with no satellite-dish owners allowed, and that it meters every television set in each cable home.
Moreover, the company contends that age- and sex-based demographics are a less reliable predictor of future buying behavior than is past buying behavior, which AdCom is designed to measure on a ZIP-code-by-ZIP-code basis, ostensibly making its reports a better targeting tool for advertisers.
“Local cable delivers about 40 percent of the viewing audience,” said Bill Livek, AdCom’s CEO, but the “local cable operator has an opportunity to get only roughly 10 percent of the revenue. So cable as an industry is leaving approximately $5 billion a year on the table because there is not a way to prove the viability of the audiences that are on local cable.”
With its larger sample base, AdCom “can capture and record viewing within the more highly targeted networks,” Mr. Livek said. In San Francisco, for example, “Adcom shows that 91 percent of the inventory on everything that is being broadcast shows ratings,” he said. “Nielsen says roughly 62 percent of the inventory is producing ratings. … Adcom is reporting 30 percent more usable [and] postable inventory.”
AdCom also measures ratings in Dallas and Jacksonville, Fla.
“They can claim whatever they want,” said a Nielsen spokesman. “It’s really so much posturing. … Our reports enable clients to drill down into the data on a minute-by-minute level. … We’re able to link that data with our advertising intelligence information service, which is Monitor Plus. And we also have, through our new alliance with Scarborough [Research], qualitative data to offer local television stations on a market-by-market basis.”
In San Francisco, Nielsen has approximately 300 meters, while AdCom has more than 1,500, said AdCom client Fred Yeries, vice president and general manager, AT&T Media Services, San Francisco Bay area. (Four of the five AdCom markets are served by AT&T; Adelphia is the operator in Cleveland.) Mr. Yeries has made AdCom the centerpiece of his own pitch to local advertisers in a package he calls PrecisionCast.
“We’re curious to replicate a `Friends’ viewer who also drives a BMW, and AdCom gives us that data,” Mr. Yeries said. “A lot of entities are certainly happy with the data they are getting from the marketplace and don’t necessarily feel the need to make an investment to ratchet up their share. … We wanted to radically change the equation and radically go after a significantly larger share of dollars from advertisers.”
AdCom has also gotten traction at Mindshare, recently signing a deal to provide its service to Mindshare in San Francisco, Dallas and Jacksonville.
However, most advertisers won’t willingly switch from Nielsen simply because it’s what they are familiar with and it is so universally employed, said one senior agency official. Even an AdCom spokesman conceded, “It’s a tough process to get acceptance of this product.” AdCom’s goal, said the spokesman, is to measure local cable viewing in each of the top 30 markets.