Friday, April 13, 2007

Nielsen to release in-store metrics in September

We've been hearing about it for a while, but according to this blurb in Media Buyer Planner, Nielsen In-Store is still on track to deliver their first ever out-of-home ratings this September. The Nielsen measurement scheme involves paying about 4,700 individuals to carry around small tracking devices from Integrated Media Measurement, Inc. (IMMI) that can recognize different TV programs and commercials based on unique sound patterns embedded into them. The tracking devices are connected to the participants' cellphones, which can be used to send the data back to Nielsen automatically, thus removing some of the human error introduced with more traditional journal-keeping techniques.

For now, the focus of the service is to measure out-of-home viewing of traditional TV programming (e.g. in bars, hotels, gyms and offices). It doesn't currently have the capability to measure other types of out-of-home screen media like digital signage, since the content being displayed or the software displaying it has to be modified to be trackable by the system. However, if there's sufficient demand, one could easily imagine the technology being extensible. As Taddy Hall, Chief Strategy Officer at the Advertising Research Foundation notes, "This is the first time there will be broad-based measuring of out-of-home viewing," and even though it's not the same as tracking digital signage systems, it could provide some much-needed baseline information about peoples' viewing habits outside of the home. If, for example, the service finds that people practice the same kind of ad avoidance strategies that they do in-home, that could prove to be an interesting problem for us to solve.

Bonus points to Mr. Hall for not using the phrase "holy grail" in his PR quote. Way too many people have been throwing that one around lately. The official Nielsen press release on the matter is here, for those who wish to read the whole thing.

Tags: Nielsen, out-of-home advertising, in-store metrics

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