What’s Engaging about Cable?

Well, I won’t have done too badly this Lent. I will have posted two blogs.

As promised, I am continuing to write about TV “engagement.” In the last blog, I focused on broadcast TV programs. In this piece, I look at ad-supported cable network programs. As I said before, the definition of “engagement” deals with time spent viewing, or “stickiness.” Rentrak looks at the average percentage of a program watched. This form of “engagement” is good, because studies have shown that if two people watch a half hour program that has an ad in the first 15 minutes, if one person just watches the first 15 minutes, and the other watches the full half hour, the half hour viewer is much more likely to recall the ad. Programs with audiences that “stick to them” give a positive benefit to their advertisers.

I looked at data from Rentrak’s weekly reports on “engagement” for 2013. You should also know that Multichannel News is now publishing our reports in advance in their print edition. (Visit Multichannel.com to get more information.) And you can send me an email at bruce.goerlich@rentrak.com if you want to get on the Rentrak mailing list.

Like in my broadcast post, I first took a look at the distribution of shows by genre.

Percentage of Ad-Supported Cable Shows

 

As with broadcast, Drama and Reality genres dominate the most engaged programs. However, cable’s share of top engaged Dramas is 43%, compared to broadcast’s 67%. What makes up the difference in cable? Ad-supported cable reality shows are at 34% compared to 16% on broadcast. (Thank you, “Basketball Wives,” “Braxton Family Values,” “Duck Dynasty,” “Project Runway,” etc.).

Another big difference with ad-supported cable consists of the importance of the Movie and Mini-Series categories. These genres still show up on cable, and viewers like and are engaged with them. Many of these are originals, as well as old favorites.

One way that broadcast and cable programs are exactly alike is that there is no relationship between the rating and “engagement”/”stickiness.” The chart below takes all the ad-supported cable shows in our 2013 reports and plots them on the vertical axis for “stickiness,” and on the horizontal for ratings rank. No relationship exists. A low rated program can be very engaging.

Comparison of Stickiness & Ratings for Ad-Supported Cable Networks

And, as with Broadcast, this additional leverage from looking at a measure of “engagement” is a good thing. Both sides of the desk can use the leverage when it serves their interest.

Next up, what you didn’t know about the State of Video on Demand.

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 in the role of President, Strategic Resources 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.

What’s Engaging about TV Programs?

It’s been a busy couple of months, and I haven’t had a chance to write. So, as part of my Lenten discipline, I promise more timely blogs. I’m going to devote the next couple to looking at “engagement” in national TV programs.

“Engagement” is one of those words like “freedom.” Everybody is for it, everybody thinks it’s good, but there isn’t a single definition that everybody agrees on. At Rentrak we have two measures for “engagement.” The first one, which this piece is based on, deals with time spent viewing, or “stickiness.” That is, what is the average percentage of a program that is watched? This form of “engagement” is good, because studies have shown that if two people watch a half hour program that has an ad in the first 15 minutes, if one person just watches the first 15 minutes, and the other watches the full half hour, the half hour viewer is much more likely to recall the ad. (Frank Harrison at Zenith-Optimedia did some very good work in this area.) Therefore, programs with audiences that “stick to them” give a positive benefit to their advertisers.

I looked at Rentrak’s weekly reports on “engagement” for 2013 for both broadcast and cable programs. (Contact me if you want to get on the mailing list.) In this post, I am going to concentrate on broadcast. In the next blog, I’ll move on to cable, and then on to our second definition of “engagement” which involves social media.

A couple of interesting things pop out when we look at the “stickiest” shows for 2013, as the chart below shows.

Rentrak Stickines Index

First off, dramas are the kings of “stickiness.”* From cop shows to novellas, the audience stays throughout them. Over two thirds of the most engaging shows last year were dramas, where people like to stay around and see what happens. Storytelling goes back to our ancestral roots when we huddled around the fire in caves while the Shaman told tales of the battles between good and evil. And today, dramas provide a real benefit to advertisers.

Reality shows are second (please forgive me network clients), but they really are just dramas done on the cheap. Contests, where viewers want to find out who wins, are third, and the same phenomenon follows for sports. Although awards shows are not often in the top rankings, which is in large part because there aren’t that many of them in broadcast. We do know, however, that the big ones are there: “The Academy Awards,” “The Golden Globes,” “The Grammy Awards,” etc.

Another interesting fact about “stickiness” is the high proportion of Hispanic network programs that show up. Overall, 32 percent of the broadcast programs that showed up were Hispanic, but that percentage differed by genre as the graph below demonstrates.

Rentrak Stickiness Index

The categories where Hispanic programs did especially well were News, Review (e.g. movie and TV show reviews), Talk Shows, Variety and Awards shows. It should also be noted that in the largest “stickiness” category of dramas, 34% were Hispanic programs; the novellas hold their audience.

One final note, there is no direct relationship between “stickiness” and program rating. Rentrak’s weekly top “stickiness” report looks at the top 20 “stickiest” broadcast shows. Across the year, only 46 percent of the top 20 “stickiest” shows were also in the top 20 highest rated shows of that week. In short, a high rating does not guarantee a high level of “stickiness,” and a high level of “stickiness” doesn’t guarantee a high rating.

And I think that is a good thing. Both networks and advertisers need more than one metric to value a program. Sheer audience level is good, but so is a measure of “engagement.” Both sides can use these as leverage points in negotiations. And finding leverage is what media is all about.

Soon to follow will be a look at “stickiness” and cable programs.

_ _

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 in the role of President, Strategic Resources 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.

*The technical level of “stickiness” is determined by level of variance between average percentage viewed of the telecast to that of all telecasts of the same duration during Monday-Saturday primetime (8-11 p.m.) and Sunday primetime (7-11 p.m.).

Using Advanced Demographics for Local TV Planning & Buying

This is a first for me. It is a jointly written blog between me and Rob Contreras, President of Whole Media Concepts, a Rentrak client in Austin, Texas. We both felt it would be a good idea if our combined readership learned how an ad agency used some of Rentrak’s information. I’ll start off, and then tell you when Rob comes in.

Rentrak gets complete automotive registration information about new and used car buyers from Polk Automotive. We then integrate that with our viewing data, in a privacy-protected manner. These charts are snapshots of some information in the Austin market, focusing on the Chevrolet and Mazda makes. Rentrak receives information down to the model level; this is just a taste of the service that’s available!

For this analysis, we looked in the Austin market at daypart viewing for the major ad supported broadcast affiliates. We pulled information for six dayparts, M-F EM, M-F Day, M-F EF, M-F PA, M-SU Prime, M-F LF, and SA/SU day. Our two automotive targets were Chevrolet buyers and Mazda buyers in the month of October 2012.

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When we rank the stations by composition of Mazda buyers the list shifts a bit. First, we can see that Mazda buyers don’t have the same high indices as Chevy buyers do.

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Composition indices, of course, just tell you how concentrated a target is on a station and don’t tell you the size of the target, the rating. The table below shows that information, comparing the top 10 ratings for Chevrolet buyers with Mazda buyers. Here we see the big four affiliates dominating, with Prime Time taking up the plurality of the slots for Chevy. Notice that the ratings for Mazda buyers both don’t fall in the same rank order and are lower.

ImageRanking the stations by Mazda buyers leads to lower ratings and little less dominance of Prime with only three winning stations, while Prime Access has four. Again, it is big four affiliates who do best.

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Thoughts from Rob Contreras, President of Whole Media Concepts

There are two general theories we set out to test with Bruce’s analysis.

  1. Whole Media Concepts is consulting with a Chevy dealer to identify programming that delivers a higher marketing efficiency.
  2. We’re assisting a Mazda dealer who wants to create a more robust digital marketing infrastructure and we need to validate this business decision.

Let’s start with Chevy

Looking at the composition index graphs, we gain immediate clarity toward the importance of TV for each brand. For Chevy, the scattershot of programming above the 1.00 mark provides a clear visual indicator to support the fact that many opportunities exist to target viewers with an affinity toward Chevy. Rentrak can help us pinpoint the exact TV programs that hit a concentrated cluster of Chevy fans. This helps our firm develop a more strategic plan that focuses less on general TV ratings, and more on targeted rating points. Ultimately, we end up reaching more potential customers for less money, while maintaining the necessary reach and frequency levels of the campaign.

The next step is to look at station and daypart rankings by index. The Austin, TX CBS affiliate, KEYE, dominates in this area, inclusive of their Telemundo network. The high index of Spanish language programming is now on our radar, as well as the efficiencies that might be gained by taking a closer look at KEYE. What we end up discovering is that KEYE’s primetime audience delivers the lowest market rating, but the highest index for Chevy owners. When we apply Polk, we discover that KEYE’s 3.675 Prime Time rating turns into a 7.12 rating among Chevy owners. With a Chevy index about 55% higher than the ABC affiliate, KEYE’s daypart now delivers the equivalent of the 2nd highest rated show in the market. The lower cost of the KEYE primetime spot, based on its general market rating, fits perfectly into our ability to stretch our client’s marketing dollar.

Now, looking at Mazda…

For Mazda, the composition index shows fewer opportunities to reach a concentrated cluster of Mazda vehicle owners. In fact, it peaks at only about 20% above the market average. While this is generally a good index, the data supports the dealer’s gut-instinct that TV is playing less of an impact role in their marketing plan. At this point, we would dive deeper into ratings for the 40+ cable TV ad-insertable networks in the market. If those numbers proved to max out at a lower index level as well, it would help us validate the dealers desire to shift marketing dollars into a heftier digital strategy. We already took a look at ESPN, TNT, USA and FXNC, and none of them had any gain in general rating when we applied a Mazda index.

Again, the next step is to look at station and daypart rankings. Prime Time and Prime Access were the highest rated dayparts with the Mazda brand. An in-depth look showed that general ratings were almost identical to targeted ratings when we applied a Mazda index with Polk. This is probably one of the most interesting aspects of Rentrak, as it truly gives our clients a unique frame of reference. For the Mazda dealer to know that his brand has relatively little opportunity to speak to targeted clusters of Mazda owners via TV means that he can free up the most inefficient TV spots in his campaign and redirect those funds toward a digital campaign. He already knows his target audience is younger and more affluent than the general market, and Rentrak’s data was used to support this theory with facts. In fact, the demographic and lifestyle information we gathered regarding the Mazda consumer will guide our creative strategy with digital.

At Whole Media Concepts, we confidently use Rentrak as an unbiased source of information to help create meaningful and knowledgeable solutions for our clientele. The information gives us a distinct advantage in the marketplace, as our clients look to us as the authority on local consumer information.

Closing from Bruce

Thanks Rob. It is good to hear how Whole Media Concepts is utilizing Rentrak’s Advanced Demographics to not only define buys, but also to help set strategic direction on the entire media mix. Having a target of actual buyers that can be leveraged in more than one medium is a real advantage to Rentrak clients.

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 in the role of President, Strategic Resources 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.

Exact Commercial Ratings: Improving Advertising Effectiveness

On January 22nd, I presented at the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) forum on Exact Commercial Ratings®. The following are some highlights. Feel free to email me at bruce.goerlich@rentrak.com to get the full shebang.

Rentrak provides Exact Commercial Ratings® for nationally advertised products to its clients through the merger of Kantar Media’s ad occurrence information with the second-by-second tuning data from more than 20 million televisions across virtually every residential ZIP code in the U.S. This allows our clients to see how national TV ads actually perform, be they 15, 30 or 60 seconds long.

There are several strategic questions for national advertisers and their agencies to ask regarding how Exact Commercial Ratings® (ECR®) can help improve advertising effectiveness. To highlight a few:

How did my commercial perform versus other commercials in the program? Ad effectiveness is not just how I did, but how I could do better.

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How does my Exact Commercial Rating® work best by pod position in a program? Pods of commercials are how ads are placed. Understanding how that placement is working is another way to improve ad effectiveness.Image

Buy placement – what can we do better in the future? And how does that work for Advanced Demographics? Seeing how networks, dayparts and pod positions perform over an entire quarter (or even longer), can lead to more effectiveness for the buyer and more sales for a network.

Combined with a long-term view, being able to look at demographics that go beyond age and sex is quite powerful. The case shown below looks at very high-income households across several networks for a quarter. CNBC has more audience leverage with upper income viewers than with the total population. With the combination of Exact Commercial Ratings® and Advanced Demographics, an advertiser can have both precision in the buy, as well as in the target. Ultimately this knowledge of what works and what doesn’t makes an advertiser’s investment both more effective and have higher ROI. Image

There are quite a few other strategic issues that ECR® can help advertisers with. I haven’t even addressed the question of currency – should ECR® become the currency? Rather than a broad scale measure of all ad performance over 3 days (including playback), with Rentrak’s Exact Commercial Ratings®, it is possible to have precise buys based on 7, 15 or even 28 days. But such questions are beyond my pay grade.

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 in the role of President, Strategic Resources 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.

Sandy & TV Viewing – Another Look

In the last blog post, we saw that in New York, TV viewing rose in the afternoon hours, and then fell as power was lost throughout the region. I’d like to look a bit at other markets; did a similar bump and fall in viewing occur? And did viewing go back to normal after the storm hit? We also saw that affiliates’ share rose during the storm. Did that happen across markets? And did the share go back after the storm?

For those short of attention span (or time), the answer is that across the markets we looked at, including Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, NY, and Boston, there was a consistent pattern of higher viewership during the day Sandy hit that then fell back to normal after the storm. Only New York, which was heavily hit by power outages, had a large drop in Prime viewing during the storm. All the markets had a jump in affiliate share across the day of the storm, which then fell back the week after.

Local news is clearly a place where viewers go to seek information. In addition, viewers quadrupled their ordering of movies On Demand, and all On Demand viewing increased by 60% on average across the markets. People watched what they wanted to. Bottom line, TV is still a connecting, powerful medium – though not as strong as Mother Nature! And only Rentrak, with our “big data” approach, can provide these insights.

Details to follow.

The chart below shows Homes Using Television (HUT) in the New York market by hour for the Monday before the storm, October 22, the day of the storm, Monday, October 29, and for Monday, November 5, the week after the storm hit. These projections are based on the approximately 90,000 homes Rentrak has in the market. (Note that our HUTs are higher than the traditional metric because we do not filter out duplicate viewing (when a home views more than one program.) We will count that home twice in our HUT.) What you can clearly see is an increase in HUT on the 29th in the daytime hours versus the 22nd, when many more people were at home… and then the storm hit, power was lost in many areas, and viewership never grew to what is normally seen in Prime. By the week after the storm, viewership patterns came back to normal. Prime Time viewing was a bit lower on November 5 than on October 22, where the last Presidential debate brought in more viewers.

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This pattern, without the sharp loss of viewership in Prime due to power issues, was reflected in Washington, D.C. (with more than 50,000 homes in the Rentrak footprint), Philadelphia (with more than 30,000 Rentrak homes), and Boston (wih more than 20,000 Rentrak homes). Of the three, Philadelphia had the greatest drop in Prime, though slight compared to New York.

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What is also interesting is the share of viewing that major affiliates had across all markets. Their viewing picked up during the day, and held fairly steady, even as the storm raged. Numbers came back to normal across all markets the week after the storm. All the markets had a “bump” in Prime share for the affiliates during the Presidential debate on October 22.

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In terms of Video On Demand, as the table below shows, comparing the number of transactions during the storm to the Monday before the storm, there was a huge spike in viewing across all markets, with the biggest increase, by a factor of more than 400% in paid transactions for movies. Viewing for pay cable On Demand transactions went up by more than 50%, as did viewing for free TV programs. The numbers may even be understated in NY because Time Warner lost reporting information from one of their data warehouses.

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And by the week after the storm, on November 5, VOD viewership fell back, much closer to the levels of the Monday before the storm.

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So what we saw from the first with the storm in one market holds true across several markets. TV usage was up, local station viewership was up, and VOD transactions were up. And might I say, only Rentrak, with tens of thousands of homes in these markets, and millions across the country, along with a census view of On Demand transactions, can give its clients this sort of robust learning.

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 in the role of President, Strategic Resources 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.

Sandy & TV Viewing

I’ll be doing at least two blog posts on how TV viewing was impacted by Hurricane Sandy. I thought a quick look at one market would provide a nice soupçon of insight. Rentrak is able to report all markets before, after and during the storm. Our “big data” approach means we don’t go black. Our clients can see what happens in November.

The chart below shows actual Homes Using Television (HUT) by hour for the Monday before the storm, October 22nd, and Monday, October 29thwhen the storm hit for the New York market. This is based on the approximately 90,000 homes Rentrak has in the market. (Note that our HUTs are higher than the traditional metric because we do not filter out duplicate viewing. When a home views more than one program, we will count that home twice in our HUT.) What you can clearly see is an increase in HUT versus the 22nd on the 29th in the daytime hours, when many more people were at home…and then the storm hit, power was lost in many areas, and viewership fell. 

ImageThe share of viewing that major affiliates had is also interesting. Their viewing picked up during the daytime, and held fairly steady, even as the storm raged. The bump in their viewing share in an hour and a half in Prime on October 22nd was due to the Presidential debate. 

ImageWe will inspect other viewing issues related to the storm in our next blog, along with a wider look at more markets. Bottom line, Rentrak’s motto maybe should be changed to that of the old mail carriers, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” I’ll ask our CEO what he thinks of that! 

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 in the role of President, Strategic Resources 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.

 

Conventional Wisdom

“Conventional Wisdom”

This blog is politically neutral—even if the author isn’t.

While a week can be a lifetime in politics, there is a general consensus that the outcomes of the political conventions were more favorable to the Democrats. Could this be seen in the appeal of the conventions? How well did they draw in their respective bases?

We looked at this question by taking the primetime coverage of the elections across the major networks, PBS, MSNBC, Fox Business News, Fox News and CNN. We used Rentrak’s Advanced Demographics where viewership across 20 million TVs is classified across the political spectrum. Let’s look at the Democratic Convention first (D comes before R!).

The average composition of the audience to the Democratic Convention consisted of 21.2% conservatives, 40.8% liberals, and 38.2% of the aggregate of moderates/mixed and low interest. Compared to the primetime audience average during August to the first week of September for these same networks, we can see in the table below that Democrats were able to pick up 10% more liberals as part of their audience. Conservative composition fell by 7.5%, and the middle segments fell by 2.8%.

COMPOSTION OF PRIME PROGRAM DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION AUDIENCE VERSUS PRIME TIME AVERAGE

Now looking at the Republican Convention we don’t see the same shift to the base. The Republican Convention did not show any major movement by any segment as shown by the table below.

COMPOSITION OF PRIME PROGRAM REPUBLICAN CONVENTION AUDIENCE VERSUS PRIME TIME AVERAGE

Even the solid Republican and conservative-based Fox News channel didn’t show change during the Republican Convention.

COMPOSITION OF PRIME FOX NEWS REPUBLICAN CONVENTION VERSUS ITS PRIME TIME AVERAGE

For whatever reason, it appears the Republicans were not able to stimulate their base.

But the show isn’t over yet, and only Rentrak gives the insight of the political orientation of the audience.

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 in the role of President, Strategic Resources 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.

‘Tis the Season

“’TIS THE SEASON”

As the summer ends, all thoughts turn naturally to the start of the new TV season. Lots of money and creative effort ride on the success or failure of new shows. One thing I believe could help shows succeed is using classic innovation theory to find the “early adopters”—those people who are more likely to watch new shows­. Promote to them and encourage them to spread the word. Their behavior tracks over time.

One of the wonderful benefits about Rentrak measuring more than 22 million TVs is that it allows us to create segments or advanced demographics that not only cross broadcast years, but are also robust enough to provide consistent insights over those years. To study the “early adopters” of TV shows, we looked at viewers of new TV series in both the springs and summers of 2010 and 2011. Our key determinate was viewership to 44 new shows in 2010. We divided HHs by the number of hours they viewed these shows, creating three groups: new show adopters, moderates and avoiders. We made sure we had the homes in both years. We then looked at those same groups’ viewership to another group of new shows in 2011.

The first thing we noticed is that the “adopters” stayed pretty consistent year-to-year. As the chart below shows, in 2010 the new show early adopters had a 171 index in terms of hours spent with the new shows versus the average HH and, while dropping in 2011 to a 137 index, still remained quite high.

Both the moderate and the avoiders’ hours also moved to the average (“regressed to the mean”), but they still held their relative positions. This means that using an advanced demographic created in one year, can be used to predict behavior in the second year. This is key for any sort of promotion activity for a TV network, or for any type of viewer segmentation that an advertiser or agency needs.

The proof can be seen in the details. Each dot in the chart below represents a program that aired in the spring and summer of 2010. The vertical axis is the rating against the New Show Adopters; the horizontal rating is the rating against the total U.S. You can see that the New Show Adopter ratings are much higher, and that there is a good fit (the blue line-stats folks can see the values in the legend box), the higher the New Show Adopter rating, the higher the general market rating. Because there are so many shows, it wouldn’t be clear to label them all. I’ve labeled the breakout show Rizzoli and Isles. It really pulled in the New Show Adopters! And it was renewed!

Now the cool thing is, we can take those same people (the folks who were New Show Adopters in 2010) and see what they did in 2011—they were still helping to drive up new show ratings. The chart below shows those 2010 New Show Early Adopters and their ratings to 2011 new shows on the vertical axis and the total U.S. rating on the horizontal. Each dot represents a new show that aired in 2011. The statistical fit is still good. In this case, I’ve called out two very successful new shows, Franklin & Bash and Falling Skies, both of which were renewed.

This ability to look at advanced demographics over time, and have the results be consistent and predictive is a powerful result of the massive size of Rentrak’s footprint.  A happy result for us and for our clients!

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 in the role of President, Strategic Resources 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.

‘P’ is for Politics

As we wade knee-deep into the presidential race, often called, the “silly season,” I’d like to turn my readers’ attention to the relationship between how people vote and what they watch. One of the cool things about having millions of TV sets to play with is the ability to set up robust segmentation systems that actually work in the marketplace. This is what Rentrak has done in the political arena by creating seven groups of homes: Very Liberal, Somewhat Liberal, Middle of the Road, Somewhat Conservative, Very Conservative, Low Involvement and Mixed. Households were scored on their viewership to 50 programs identified in surveys as being very liberal or very conservative. Low Involvement homes watched hardly any of these shows, and Mixed Households watched a lot of both conservative and liberal shows. (See the grid below.)

This system works really well in terms of showing the alignment between voting and viewing. Going back to the days of yesteryear, e.g. January, we compared the viewership composition of the Republican debate prior to the primary election by counties that Mitt Romney won and Newt Gingrich (remember him?) won. It is clear that the viewers in the 34 counties who voted for Romney were more moderate and liberal, and the viewers in the 33 counties who voted for Gingrich were more conservative. Perhaps if Gingrich had used Rentrak’s data to place more targeted ads against moderates in the Romney counties he could have done better?

Being able to identify the political leanings of viewers can be a powerful aid in more efficiently placing the huge amounts of money political campaigns spend.  Maybe “silly” can now be replaced with “sensible.”

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 in the role of President, Strategic Resources 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.

Stats on Stickiness

In my continuing stream of consciousness thoughts on the upfront I’d like to turn to some qualitative metrics. The buying process doesn’t just rest on the numeric size of the audience, the target being selected or the cost. Buying also includes metrics on the nature of the audience’s reactions. Qualitative metrics are used to measure the impact of the exposure on items such as recall of the commercials and word of mouth. Agencies bring together a variety of these metrics such as Optimedia’s Power Content Score and MagnaGlobal’s Dimensions. These metrics allow the buyer to shave off inventory and reshape packages based on harder rules than, “I just don’t like this show.” Qualitative metrics are part of the reality that media is still a large part art, not just science. But the art does have basis in reality, which I would like to highlight.

One metric based in reality is Rentrak’s TV Engagement Index also known as the “Stickiness Index.” In brief – this is the index of the percent of the audience that watched the show, compared to the average for all shows of that length. It is based on work done at Zenith, which showed that viewers who chose to watch more of a program were up to 40% more likely to recall the same ads than people who only watched a little of the show. So, controlling for exposure, people who watch more of a show, are more likely to remember the ad. If higher recall is important for a brand, then looking at Stickiness is important. Brands also care about the environment that they appear in. Many brands want to be where the “buzz” is – on programs that get a lot of water cooler chatter. The modern version of the water cooler is social media. Bluefin Labs provides Rentrak with its index of Social Media chatter. Similarly, programs that generate the most social media comments will have a higher Social Media Index rating. Bluefin’s Social Media Index indicates the amount of social media “chatter” that a given TV show is generating among all the shows that were discussed via social media. An index of 100 means that the show is generating an average amount of discussion, and because the amount of social media discussion varies widely, the Social Media Index ranking numbers can go up to many thousands. In short, the Social Media Index answers the question – is this show talked about?

What is interesting to see is that these two qualitative indices, one of Stickiness, indicating potential recall impact, and Social Media, indicating “buzz,” don’t end up scoring programs the same. The table below shows the average indices across the same programs for the past 12 weeks. The shows included are those that had the highest Stickiness Index program. Similarly, programs that generate the most social media comments will have a higher Social Media Index rating. The Social Media Index covers a range from 0 to many thousands; its value indicates the amount of social media “chatter” that a given TV show is generating among all the shows that were discussed via social media. An index of 100 means that the show is generating an average amount of discussion, and because the amount of social media discussion varies widely, the Social Media Index ranking numbers can go up to many thousands.

A few key things that jump out in my mind:

  • Sports and awards shows are really talked about! Who won what is something people are very interested in.
  • Hispanic shows and dramas really hold their audiences. (Bluefin is about to do a Social Media Index for Hispanic programming, but the numbers were not available at this time.)
  • The difference in the range of the indices, which is the function of what is being looked at. The range of Stickiness is limited by the number of minutes in a show because the index can’t go very high. However, millions (or no-one) could be talking about a TV show, so the Social Media index could soar into the millions.

And there isn’t a great correlation between these two metrics. High Stickiness, or sitting tied to your set, may or may not be highly related to a comment on Facebook. Both have value, but it is up to the artist, I mean the client, to decide which to emphasize.

AVERAGE INDEX

Genre

# of Telecasts

Rentrak Stickiness Index

Bluefin Social Media Index

Music

1

129

21,850

Politics/Public Affairs

1

128

67,610

Awards

2

128

433,595

Talk Show

1

123

28

Hispanic

110

121

NA

Reality

99

121

10,373

Drama

535

120

2,284

Movies

45

118

297

Sports

24

116

55,663

News Mag

7

116

602

Science Fiction/Fantasy

10

115

14,800

Home

3

114

172

Comedy

16

114

706

Kids

15

113

724

Documentary

23

113

323

Game Show

12

111

1,113

News/Talk

10

110

49

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 in the role of President, Strategic Resources 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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