With automakers and other advertisers demanding better measurement of TV viewing, Nielsen Media Research for the first time will monitor a single market using electronic meters. The test will begin this year with 600 Boston households.
Unlike the Nielsen diaries, which people must fill in, the meters collect data, such as who is viewing and which channel the person is watching, during actual viewing. The viewer, however, must enter the information on a keypad. Each evening, the data are sent to Nielsen.
Danny Miletic, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Nielsen Homevideo Index, says Nielsen has collected data using the meters in 5,000 households on a national level, but this is the first time an individual market has been tapped for measurement. That's primarily because advertisers such as automakers and their media buyers want more specific information on large, single markets such as Boston.
Bob Flood, senior vice president of Optimedia in New York, the media-buying service for BMW, is one buyer looking for better local data.
'All sales are local in nature,' Flood says. 'Local (information) offers greater insights in targeting consumers.'
The Boston households in the two-year test also will use diaries, but Flood says diaries are much less reliable because 'people fill those in basically using memory.'
Over the next three years, Miletic says nine more large markets will be tested on a local level using the meters. 'I believe the meter is more precise, and you can measure throughout the year,' he says.
But Flood believes emerging technology such as TiVo and Replay, TV recorders that can tell advertisers what stations people are watching without prompting by the viewer, will be more valuable to auto marketers than Nielsen's meter technology.
'With TiVo and Replay - that's actual hard data,' Flood says, 'and they have the capability of being in more homes than the Nielsen studies.
'Clients are always clamoring for more accurate data,' Flood adds. 'That's the holy grail.'