TiVo-Millward Brown Pact Lets Advertisers Get Granular

Program Will Use Responses From 35,000 Subscribers to Create Behavioral, Psychographic Segments

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In another sign that advertisers are growing more interested in determining what types of people watch their ads -- rather than just how many -- market-research shop Millward Brown is partnering with TiVo in an effort to pair information about specific segments of consumers with data on how people watch television.

Millward Brown, part of the WPP Group, will offer advertisers the ability to ask specific sets of questions to 35,000 TiVo subscribers who have agreed to participate in that company's panel of respondents. TiVo will use respondents' answers to assign them to specific behavioral and psychographic segments and then analyze, second by second, aggregated viewing data for each respective grouping.

Trying to put soda ads in front of people more likely to purchase soda has long been a goal of advertisers, yet TV commercials have long been aimed at reaching the broadest swath of viewers at a single moment. With technology granting the possibility of examining TV-watching habits through a cable, satellite or telecommunications company's set-top box, however, marketers are pressing for more granular data about TV viewers in the hopes of sending them promotions they are more likely to want and recall.

"You buy women 18 to 49 because that's what's available," said Todd Juenger, VP-general manager of audience research and measurement, TiVo. "What a horrible disconnect to know your customer so well, but then not be able to have any better way to find them on television other than to resort to basic age and sex demographics. What this is trying to do is trying to bridge that gap."

Many parties are trying to come up with similar efforts to make TV advertising more relevant to specific audiences. Some of it hinges on using consumer data and new technology to beam "addressable" ads to specific households. Other work uses information about particular viewing regions to digitally tweak the copy and narration of TV ads so the promotion is relevant to a specific geography. Even Nielsen, the backer of mainstream ratings about viewership, has been offering measures of "engagement" that reveal different patterns about TV watching.

As of yet, none of these moves have delivered the kind of traction that a Charmin ad featuring Mr. Whipple could achieve decades ago -- when media choices were more limited.

"We have got deep insight on psychographics and brand behavior and preferences -- consumer attitudes," said Bill Pink, senior VP-marketing science at Millward Brown. But at some point, "somebody says, 'We're a heavy TV advertiser, and I'm going to buy TV on 18-to-34 year olds. How does that reconcile with this deep attitudinal information you guys have got there?'"

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