TV Engagement at the Local Market Level

How local TV used to be measured in the United States reminds me of the iconic fairy tale Cinderella. There was a wicked stepmother who treated her own daughters well, but Cindy got the shaft (or at least the broom). Local TV used to just be a hodge-podge of small samples, a mixture of varying methods of differing quality, which produced differing results, bouncing numbers, and many, many markets with hardly any clothes—I mean, rating information—at all.

Well, in real life, like the fairy tale, there is a Prince Charming to rescue the fair maiden. [1] Rentrak’s massive and passive measurement will soon include 60 million TVs and 26 million homes. That will be about one in four households. Our approach is the same in each market—365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

One great thing we are able to do is provide metrics that have traditionally been just the province of national TV—like engagement, or what we call “stickiness.” As noted in previous blogs, Rentrak’s measure compares the average percentage of a program or series viewed to the average of programs of the same duration to create a comparable metric across programs of different lengths. (It is easier to watch 50 percent of a 30-minute show than a 60-minute show.) Average percent viewed has been validated as being directly correlated to advertising effectiveness from work done at the media agency Zenith.

An example is below from an actual market with actual TV shows. This shows the straightforward rating (vertical axis), and average percent viewed (horizontal axis). For clarity, news programs are green diamonds, game shows are blue boxes, sitcoms are purple circles, and gossip shows are orange triangles.

Bruce's Blog Charts – September-01

Looking at programs this way gives leverage points to all sides. The station airing the 10 p.m. news can say, “My ratings aren’t the highest, but I have a high average percent viewed.” The agency can say to the station airing the third 10 p.m. news show, “You have high ratings, but your audience isn’t very engaged.” However, the “fairest way in the land” to look at the shows, is to employ Rentrak’s Stickiness Index—or TV engagement metric—as mentioned above. The chart below takes the same programs, indexes the ratings to the average of the selected shows, and applies the duration-based Stickiness Index.

Bruce's Blog Charts – September-02

There is not a lot of movement in the upper-right quadrant of higher ratings and higher engagement except celebrity news slips a little bit in terms of Stickiness value. The big news is the shift into the high Stickiness, lower rating quadrant of two news shows and a game show. This is because, compared to other shows of the same duration, they have a lot of engaged viewers.

I’ll be glad to share the actual data with any Rentrak client. And yes, these charts are produced along with a spreadsheet in Rentrak’s local system—though they have “been put in a prettier dress” for the ball.

Not a fairy tale and a happy ending!

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.

[1] I’m not talking about Rentrak’s EVP of Local Television, Steve Walsh—though he could play the part.

Viewer as Target — How Some Ancient TV History Might Help Networks Today

Okay, I am not getting desperate for blog topics! I first wrote this over three years ago, and when I was reading recently about the second planned departure of Jay Leno from “The Tonight Show,” I thought it was worth a look back at what happened to NBC the last time he left and moved to the 10 p.m. Monday through Friday time slot. Rentrak now has a much bigger footprint, more operators, and a more sophisticated projection system, but I think the basics still ring true.

MY PREVIOUS ANALYSIS

What were the underlying dynamics of the disappearing viewers that NBC suffered Monday through Friday at 10 p.m. when Leno was on? Rentrak, through its analysis of hundreds of thousands of households, has determined that NBC suffered a double whammy. (Please note — we now track more than 11 million homes.) First, heavy viewers watched a lot less of the network. And second, medium and light viewers to the network turned away in droves. Where did the viewers go? The biggest beneficiary in terms of stealing away NBC viewers was ESPN.

Using the Rentrak TV Essentials system, Rentrak statisticians pulled out 353,000 households that watched NBC Monday through Friday from 10 to 11 p.m. in October 2008, and then compared those same homes’ viewing patterns to NBC in the same time period in October 2009. In short, Rentrak looked at the viewing of the same NBC viewers for the Monday through Friday at 10 p.m. time slot across two years.

What happened? First, the average number of hours NBC viewers watched Monday through Friday from 10 to 11 p.m. dropped off, driven by heavy viewers, who fell off by almost two hours.

Chart 1While there was a slight uptick in hours watched by medium and light viewers, the actual number of those viewers fell dramatically (as shown below). The number of heavy NBC viewers fell by only 10 percent, while the number of medium and light viewers fell by 24 percent and 30 percent respectively.

Chart 2Where did the viewers go? The biggest overall beneficiary was ESPN, which got 28 percent more NBC viewers in October 2009 than in October 2008. Fox came in second with 20 percent (perhaps another reason why they are leaking talks about stealing Conan away). As reported in the trade press, TBS also did well, increasing reach among NBC viewers by 17 percent. The complete list of top 10 gainers is shown below.

Chart 3BACK TO THE PRESENT

I know it helps network programmers to understand what their heavy, medium, and light viewers contribute, and what other programs those viewers are watching. If one goal of today’s CEO is customer retention, understanding what your best customer might do is a good idea. And Rentrak, with its millions of homes and TVs, can make that kind of learning possible.

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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.

Political Fragmentation

One thing that has become clear from the recent election is that traditional outlets for reaching conservatives are not delivering what they used to deliver. The chart below shows the shift in viewership for “The O’Reilly Factor” since last October. The decline in total ratings was a .75, but for the core audience of conservative viewers (from Rentrak’s Political Segmentation Schema), the decline was even greater — a 1.6 rating drop. Ratings stabilized in January, but are still way off their pre-election high.

Shift in Live HH and Conservative Viewers to The O'Reilly Factor

“Hannity” shows the same pattern. Total ratings are down by .9 and the rating among core conservative viewers was down by around double — at a 1.8 decrease.

Shift in Live HH and Conservative Viewership for Hannity

Of course, just because conservatives are not watching the tried and true the way they used to does not mean they can’t be captured on TV. The chart below shows this for a sample of networks where large concentrations of conservatives can be found.

Index of Conservative ViewershipUnfortunately, the Republicans stuck to an old style type-buying pattern, using traditional demographics and sticking to a limited number of networks. Obama for America used a privacy-protected matching process to align their key segments with Rentrak viewer data. This enabled them to buy much deeper, going to around 60 networks. Rentrak went to the Republican side and made the same offer. We were turned down. The results were much more narrow with traditional buys going only 18 networks deep.

Marketers have often talked about fragmentation with traditional targets. Obama for America was smart enough to see it happening in the political arena. It’s up to the Republicans now to recognize the reality of political fragmentation or remain in the marketing world of 2004.

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.

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.

Political Ratings – A Nation Divided?

As we head to the closing weeks of the election season, I’d like to highlight the relationship between political orientation and TV program selection. As you fans of this blog know, Rentrak has a political segmentation. We based it on looking at actual program viewership, with the anchors of the “news” networks of MSNBC and Fox being the left and right ends of the spectrum. Based on hours of viewership, we can divide our millions of homes along a spectrum of “low involvement” to “very conservative.”

If we look at the two poles of “any liberal” and “any conservative” we get, at first glance, a very polarized viewing community as the graph below shows. The horizontal axis is the index of each program for conservative viewers compared to the average for over 7,500 prime time programs across 230 networks in September. The vertical axis is the index of liberals for those same programs. We have removed all programs from the news networks of MSNBC, Fox, PBS and CNN. In addition, in order to be clear with the graphs, we are only showing the top 750 programs, ones that have a .3 rating or higher.

It really does seem like a divided country. There aren’t many shows that are in the upper right hand quadrant appealing to both liberals and conservatives, and there aren’t many shows in the lower left hand quadrant, shows that aren’t above average for either liberals or conservatives.  It looks like a pretty tight line with shows having either a liberal or conservative skew.

Okay, so what is each side watching that the other isn’t? Let’s dive into the liberals first. (No bias intended here!) The graph below “blows” up the liberal quadrant, the upper left from the first graph. We’ve only included the programs that have greater than a 110 index for liberals, and less than a 90 index for conservatives. The size of each point reflects its total U.S. rating: bigger points have higher ratings. I’ve also called out a few programs by labeling them and coloring them red. (To reflect the “red, white & blue” of our nation’s flag, not for any partisan comment!)

The theme for liberal shows is comedy, Hispanic programming, adult oriented cartoons and sitcoms. There isn’t a cop show or a western in the bunch!

It looks very different when you apply the same filters, but this time just look at the conservative quadrant (the lower right quad from the original graph), as shown below. Here we have detective shows, older dramas, NASCAR and religious programs popping up.

So are we doomed to a country where there isn’t a common cultural heritage (yes, TV is culture!)?  There is hope. A lot of TV does sit in the middle, not quite skewing overly conservative and not quite skewing overly liberal. When we look at those shows in the middle, with and index of between 90 and 110 for liberals and conservatives, you get quite a healthy list of shows. The graph below takes the shows right from the middle section of the first quad map.

The Simpsons skews a bit liberal, but it doesn’t lose too many conservatives. Vegas and Survivor: Philippines do a bit better with conservatives, but liberals aren’t running screaming out of the room. And the highly rated shows like Sunday Night Football and Dancing with the Stars are getting both Donkeys and Elephants.

Three lessons here, I think: 1) If you want to, target and reach on a side of the political fence on a concentration basis. (E.g. just talk to the political beast you want to talk to.) 2) You can also talk to both sides at once in TV, and talk to a lot of them at the same time. 3) Knowing which programs to pick for concentration or conciliation isn’t that simple. It requires a finely tuned segmentation tool. And Rentrak has it.

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.