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P&G STUDY MAY REWRITE MEDIA SPENDING PLANS;RESEARCH PROJECT WILL EVALUATE HOW WELL PRINT WORKS TO HIKE PRODUCT SALES

By Published on .

Procter & Gamble Co. is preparing to undertake a major new research study to track how print advertising helps move products in stores.

P&G ultimately could divert tens of millions of dollars away from its favored TV outlets and into magazines and newspapers by early next year, depending on results.

FIGHTING HIGH COSTS

Hammered by the high cost of network and spot TV, P&G in the first 10 months of 1995 sliced more than $30 million from broadcast ad expenditures while increasing magazine spending by 24.4% to $198.4 million.

According to Competitive Media Reporting, P&G cut network TV by 4.4% to $527.3 million, while spot TV dropped 5.6% to $148.2 million. Network radio advertising jumped 56.3% off a smaller base, to $12 million.

The new study could accelerate that trend, industry executives said.

"The objective is to better understand how print works," said one agency executive familiar with the project's early stages.

Several research companies have pitched or are about to make a pitch to conduct the study. They include Roper Starch Worldwide and Simmons Market Research Bureau, whose standard measurements P&G has criticized. Simmons is working on a customized approach with an undisclosed database partner.

"The pressure to try and get a substitute [for TV] is obvious" because of that medium's high price increases, said George Williams, senior VP at ASI Research, which has worked for P&G on new media projects but isn't pitching for the latest business.

P&G declined to comment. But Judy Beaudry, associate media director in charge of print advertising, criticized the reliability of current magazine research at the American Magazine Conference in November and said the package goods giant would use more print if its effectiveness could be demonstrated.

SOME TV GROWTH

Two other media areas have been growing as well: cable TV networks and syndicated TV, jumping 10.8% to $143 million and 12.6% to $161.6 million, respectively. But the figures don't reflect the impact of P&G's move away from controversial syndicated talk shows in the fourth quarter.

Regardless of the research study, network TV is still expected to dominate the P&G media picture. Through the first 10 months of 1995, it received 43% of the company's total ad dollars. Magazines increased their hold on the No. 2 spot with 16% of the total, moving ahead of syndicated TV at 13.4%, spot TV at 12% and cable TV at 11.8%.

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