“Oh Say Can You ‘V’?” Using Traditional TV Media Metrics for Product Usage Ratings

In last week’s blog, we looked at how success in the upfront is derived from a “relative victory.” If you get a cheaper cost-per-thousand increase than the market, you “win,” even if you have fewer GRPs or spent more money. And this process rests on age/sex demo estimates, which can be quite unstable under a sample-based currency. Of course, one key positive of the upfront is the guarantee that the audience the advertiser pays for (whether or not the price was “good”), will be delivered (often, but not always) in the quarter the buy was made. (More on that in a later blog.)

One way an advertiser could build more value for herself in the upfront is to start employing product usage ratings as a “hedge” or as the primary currency as part of the guarantee. Multiple guarantees have a long heritage in the business. Zenith did it on an explicit basis with IAG’s recall scores in the mid 2000’s on several accounts, where the network had to achieve both a CPM and an average recall index.  MediaVest did it “sotto voce” with Procter & Gamble on reach levels, where a whole internal system was built to optimize and track buys on a reach-goal basis, without informing the networks what the goals were.

Now media measurement company, Rentrak, makes available to clients product user ratings that are in fact stable and can be expressed as part of the warp and woof of the buying process. One example among many for Rentrak is the financial services arena. Experian’s VantageScores are tied into TV viewing. These scores can be expressed in the same manner as VPVH’s – a core metric in buying. (VPVH = Target Viewers in 000/Total HHs in OOO.) And these VantageScore VPVH’s are very stable. The chart below shows a group of prime time programs with the VPVH for “A” scoring households and “F” scoring households from November ’11 to March ’12.
VPVH for "A" and "F" VantageScore Prime Time Programs

The numbers both track over time with little variation month-to-month and have differentiation as well. “Modern Family” is higher on “A” scores and lower on “F” scores. “Blue Bloods” is higher on “F” scores and lower on “A” scores. “Parks and Recreation” is higher on “A” scores and lower on “F” scores. We see this pattern across all programs we have studied. Bottom line – having VPVH for product ratings allows you to put metrics into the systems used in buying today and differentiation and consistency mean that buys can be shaped to better deliver the targets you want.

Therefore, using the VPVH metric to estimate product ratings while using a traditional HH rating metric for the program’s bedrock delivery could easily become part of upfront buys, either explicitly as done with IAG in the past, or behind the scenes as P&G has done with reach.  And a product rating is a much better “win” than mere age/sex.

In case you don’t know, I am Bruce Goerlich, Chief Research Officer at Rentrak, the global standard in movie measurement and your TV Everywhere measurement and research company. I have been in the research end of the marketing business for more than 30 years primarily on the ad agency side, with my last stint prior to Rentrak being in the role of President, Strategic Resources for Zenith Optimedia North America.  Somewhere along the way, I morphed from young Turk to old fogey. Now that I have grey hair and am horizontally-challenged, I can speak with some authority on advertising and research issues – which I will do from time-to-time on this blog.

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