The announcement is part of the third phase of a major research makeover launched by TAB, an industry group that includes sellers, buyers and advertisers and operates similarly to the magazine industry's Audit Bureau of Circulation. First, TAB assigned more reliable traffic counts to signs. Then it began working on a likelihood-to-see index that indicates how many eyes actually saw the signs. Now it will offer a third component to out-of-home advertisers -- place-based demographic data.
In December, VNU's Nielsen Outdoor unveiled the first U.S. outdoor demographics data from a GPS-based study it conducted in Chicago. Nielsen Outdoor was one of several companies that answered TAB's request for proposal for an outdoor-demographic measurement tool.
TAB's decision not to go with Nielsen's service delivers a blow to the ratings giant. MRI is the U.S. subsidiary of GfK, a European company that also won the rights to develop a likelihood-to-see index for the outdoor industry. Telmar provides media-planning services.
The outdoor industry hopes TAB's measurement initiative will help it surpass the research capabilities of virtually all other media. For example, Nielsen delivers ratings that indicate if a TV was tuned to a particular channel, but it doesn't indicate whether a person was actually looking at the ad that was aired.