|Nielsen asked 850 respondents to wear a GPS-equipped pager-size device called the Npod for nine days and then married the respondents’ traffic patterns to a map of outdoor advertising sites to determine who passed what kind of outdoor ads.
Getting to the 'who'
While Nielsen’s data don’t provide a demographic snapshot for individual outdoor sites, they can give advertisers on a multi-site campaign level a sense what kinds of consumers were exposed as well as reach and frequency data -- the first time the out-of-home industry has gotten to the “who” behind the “how many.”
The idea was to put outdoor measurement on par with other media, for which more granular information is available. One result of the Npod test was that outdoor’s reach skewed a bit lower than outdoor media buyers and sellers previously thought, but its frequency was much higher, noted Lorraine Hadfield, managing director for Nielsen Outdoor.
Overall, monthly reach to any outdoor media is 97%, Ms. Hadfield said, with the average Chicago adult exposed to 40 outdoor ads a day. For adults living in the city, that number rises to 66%. But reach level is highly dependent on site dispersion. For example, she noted two different advertising campaigns with GRPs of 560 generated varied reach because of their dispersion. A campaign randomly dispersed across the broader Chicago market generated a reach of 60% and a campaign concentrated in Chicago’s city proper had a reach of 45%.
Another key finding that many outdoor-media buyers inherently know is that the location of an ad’s site doesn’t define the demographics the ad reaches, but the commuting pattern around an ad. As an example, Nielsen found that while only 5% of Chicagoland residents live in Lake County, Ind., the area generated 15% of the reach in the market.
The implication, said Peter Doe, VP-analytics and modeling for Nielsen Outdoor, is that while Lake County might not generally be considered a wise place to concentrate outdoor ad spending because of its less-desirable-income demographics, “two-thirds of the people the area reaches are likely coming from wealthier areas,” he said.
While the 850 respondents passed 96% of Chicago’s outdoor advertising sites, some out-of-home media sellers have previously issued concern that it would take an unmanageably large sampling to tie demographic data to particular sites. According to Mr. Doe, that was never Nielsen’s intent.
“A single spot on TV would not have a reliable measurement,” he said. “Our goal was to get outdoor on a level playing field with other media.” On a quantitative level, Ms. Hadfield said the Nielsen data correlated very highly with the current measurement system, government daily effective circulation, or DEC, counts.
Within the outdoor industry, a larger measurement revolution is taking place, spearheaded by the nonprofit industry organization Traffic Audit Bureau. In the past year the TAB has refined the traffic counts and hired a research firm to create an “opportunity to see” index that takes into account an ad’s size, placement, illumination and distance from passersby. It recently issued an RFP for someone to provide demographic data on outdoor’s audience, which Ms. Hadfield confirmed Nielsen has answered.
This afternoon, Nielsen is taking its Chicago data to its Global Outdoor Advisory Council, which includes major outdoor media sellers such as Clear Channel, Viacom, JC Decaux, Lamar and Van Wagner, media buyers such as Mediacom, Universal McCann, Starcom MediaVest and MindShare and industry associations the OAAA and TAB. Nielsen expects it will begin rolling out the Npod in top 10 markets in April 2006.
“We’re working with the TAB on the RFP and also with the industry to roll this out,” she said. “I see no reason why we can’t work together.”