Friday, October 14, 2005

New Methods for Measuring Outdoor Advertising

The Traffic Audit Bureau (TAB) is the outdoor media industry's official measurement provider for outdor advertising firms. They conduct traffic audits that serve as the basis of outdoor media circulation estimates. The circulation audits are known as "daily effective circulation" or DECs.

The Traffic Audit Bureau has recently issued a request for proposal to a variety of potential research suppliers to develop a new audience ratings system for the outdoor industry. The RFP is seeking a new system that would use new ratings data to provide demographic information about what type of people were exposed to an outdoor ad, when, and for how long.

The demographic data mixed with the TAB's circulation data will provide total audience estimates similar to all of the major media, putting outdoor on a level media planning field for the first time. This is apparantly good news for outdoor electronic billboard (digital signage) advertising providers such as Lamar and Clear Channel.

Here is the rest of the story from Mediapost.

erinMedia, which has taken control of a promising outdoor and radio audience measurement firm called Navigauge, is one of the players expected to compete for the outdoor industry's ratings system. Navigauge uses a system that incorporates global positioning satellite (GPS) technology into cars so that advertisers and agencies know exactly when, where, and how fast people were going when they were exposed to outdoor advertising. The problem with the Navigauge technology is that it does not account for pedestrian traffic.

Arbitron, which has been developing a portable people meter system carried by individuals, also plans to compete, confirmed a company spokesman--but its proposal would be more of a longer-term one that relates to a broader rollout of the PPM technology, not one devoted exclusively to outdoor audience measurement.

Arbitron was a leading contender alongside Nielsen to develop a GPS-based measurement system for outdoor, but has since abandoned that technology, while Nielsen has raced ahead. Nielsen's outdoor unit was recently awarded a contract to use that system to provide outdoor ratings in South Africa, and on Wednesday released the first findings of GPS-based outdoor ratings in the United States from a system it has been testing in Chicago. While Nielsen didn't actually make any of that data available to the press, it hailed the achievement as a milestone, citing testimonials from several industry leaders, including Starcom MediaVest Group's Kate Sirkin and the TAB's Joe Philport.

The Nielsen Outdoor technology, which was developed by RDP Associates, is known as the Npod, a cell phone-sized device that panelist carry with them
throughout the day, much as they would Arbitron's PPM devices.

Because it has made such advances, Nielsen Outdoor is seen as a favorite to win the TAB's contract, although it is possible that several different vendors may supply components of research to the TAB, which would be integrated with other data gathered and compiled with the TAB to produce a unified rating estimate for outdoor audience exposure.

Most significantly, the data would be owned by--and the research methods controlled by--the outdoor industry, its advertisers and agencies, as opposed to ratings systems for TV, radio, magazines, newspapers and online, which are owned and controlled by research suppliers.

Recently, the ad industry began discussing the possibility of forming a joint industry committee, or JIC, to do the same for other media, including television--but the effort was abandoned when Nielsen threatened an antitrust suit. Last month, the Advertising Research Foundation unveiled the Audience Measurement Initiative (AMI), which will function in many ways like a JIC, but will not own or control the research developed by suppliers.