One media agency is geared up to make good use of the data flooding in from Nielsen’s controversial Local People Meters.
Initiative Media’s Overnight Alert System is designed to flag potential audience under-deliveries in spot buys while they’re happening, giving the agency an opportunity to address the shortfall in a more timely manner than has been possible in the past.
The computerized system takes the overnight ratings information from local markets and uses it to calculate whether stations are hitting the Initiative’s client’s delivery targets. If the broadcasters are falling short, the computer prepares e-mail the buyer can send to stations to start a negotiation over make-goods.
Sue Johenning, Initiative’s executive VP, director of local broadcast, said that up until now, spot buys were evaluated after sweeps rating books were returned. That could be months after the commercials were broadcast. For some clients that could be too late, particularly for retailers such as Initiative client Home Depot.
“It doesn’t do a retailer much good to find out three months from now that their one-week sale event had a delivery problem, which is part of what you had to deal with in the past when you had to wait for the data to come in,” Ms. Johenning said. “And now we’re able to monitor it as quickly as possible and act on it in as real time as we possibly can to get the schedules whole right then and there when they need the weight.”
Ms. Johenning said Initiative has begun to roll out the system, and so far stations have been receptive to the system.
But some stations say they already monitor ratings on a daily basis for clients. And others may not be ready to offer make-goods that fast in all cases.
Mark Lund, VP, sales, at WNBC-TV, New York, said he wasn’t aware of the Initiative system. He said that unlike networks, local stations don’t reserve time for make-goods, and WNBC tends to sell out.
“In most instances it would be very difficult to offer immediate make-goods during flights,” Mr. Lund said. “It would be a change in the way we currently negotiate our business.”
Ms. Johenning said Initiative needed to develop the system to deal with the information it knew would be coming from the Local People Meters.
“Local People Meters give us the best data we’ve ever had at the local level, but dealing with all that data is a huge challenge,” she said.
The proprietary software was written by a team at Initiative, which at this point has no plans to make it available to other media buyers.
The system gives Initiative buyers overnight ratings information in a form they can use. “By having this all computerized for the buyer, the buyers get to focus their time and effort on the ones that have a problem and to focus on making sure that the schedules get whole,” she said. When the system issues an alert, the buyer can “drill down” into the data, she said, to find out the station, the daypart and the programs that are causing the ratings shortfall.
Ms. Johenning said the system is being used in LPM markets-New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston-as well as places where Nielsen has household meters. She noted that since Local People Meters are so new, “We all had to make suppositions about what the delivery might be, and so there are some swings in there that are even more crucial to monitor while we’re all learning what this new data is going to show us.”
For now the system is for local broadcast, but the agency is looking to see if a similar system might work on the national level.