EMS, a comprehensive study of the media and consumption habits of the region's top income earners, also gives publishers and broadcasters an alternative to patching together country-by-country research to paint a European picture.
If successful, EMS will raise questions about the future of the Pan European Survey, until now the most widely used pan-European media study. PES targets a smaller, more upscale audience than its new rival.
"The results [of EMS] prove to advertisers that the best of the cable and satellite networks have as great a reach as Europe's national channels," said Peter Masson, a London-based European media consultant who worked on EMS.
EMS is based on interviews by Dutch research group Inter/View, Amsterdam, with 90,000 adults in 17 countries. The top 13% by income-about 18,225 respondents, who represent a universe of more than 40 million upscale Europeans-were then selected to answer a questionnaire. Participants were queried about media usage, product ownership, lifestyles and attitudes.
Multinational marketers spend less than $500 million a year on advertising with pan-European TV channels, consumer publications, in-flight magazines and the trade press but lavish $50 billion on national media, Mr. Masson said.
"We want EMS, which shows cable and satellite are now serious media, to help shift the balance," he said. "The fight now is to get marketing planners to hold more of their budget for pan-European ads."
EMS' guarantors are print titles Time, Reader's Digest and Newsweek International; TV networks NBC Super Channel, CNN International, European Business News and Eurosport; marketers Philips Electronics N.V. and ABN AMRO Bank, and Bozell 20/20 Media.
BLAZING NEW GROUND
EMS is considered ground-breaking because of its universe of 40 million (compared with the PES universe of 5.7 million), as well as its plans to update data every six months, instead of every two or three years like most studies. To boost its credibility, EMS has made an effort to draw in advertiser and agency backers as well as the usual media sponsors, which means there are more reasons to make it objective, said Tom Otker, corporate marketing research manager at Philips.
For cable and satellite broadcasters, EMS highlights the growing reach of a medium that has struggled to win advertisers more accustomed to national TV stations.
As media consumers, 46% of those questioned said they subscribed to cable and satellite TV, while nearly 17% expect to subscribe in the next two years.
"Until now, there's been very little comparative data on pan-European TV. EMS shows comparative elements, so it's clear where all the [TV] stations stand. It will interest [multinational] advertisers who currently use only the international press [for pan-European campaigns]," said Chris Mundy, head of research/ad sales, at Eurosport.
"EMS shows both press and TV are valid," said Ron Plante, NBC Super Channel's head of research.
According to EMS, Eurosport, the pan-European sports network co-owned by ESPN, has the highest weekly reach. It's seen by an estimated 31% of the EMS upmarket universe.
Surprisingly, the Franco-German educational network ARTE scored second in weekly viewership, with a 20.5% reach. CNN International scored the third highest, with 16.9% of respondents tuning in. Viacom's MTV Europe reached 14.9%, and Euronews was in the homes of 12.4% of those questioned, thanks to an enviable distribution system via Europe's public broadcasters. NBC Super Channel was seen in 5.8% of homes.
EMS identified NBC Super Channel's audience as mostly male, highly educated, frequent travelers, who buy luxury items and have an average income of $42,560 compared with $39,520 for the total EMS population.
"We also learned that one-third of the EMS respondents own stocks and shares," said NBC's Mr. Plante, who wants to attract those viewers for the channel's business programs.
The newest channel surveyed, Dow Jones & Co.'s year-old EBN, reached only 1% of respondents. But EBN insists its viewers are among the top 6% income earners.
"They fly, they buy and they invest," said Frances Whitehead, EBN's marketing director. "They are also light viewers of TV, in general, and do not duplicate their EBN viewing on other pan-European channels."
The survey also probed the influence of advertising. About 44% of respondents agreed that TV commercials have an impact on what new products they want to try (see chart). More than 40% felt the same about newspaper advertising; 45% for magazine ads.
The conventional method for measuring pan-European print and TV media has been on a country-by-country basis. Media owners with pan-European distribution have had to pay for market research in each national market. For Reader's Digest that meant gathering 15 readership surveys, one for each of its 15 editions.
"We can now analyze whatever combination of countries we wish.... using just one database," said Penny Mortimer, marketing development manager of the Reader's Digest Association.
"EMS also showed there's relatively low duplication between international TV channels and international print media. I hope clients will find this reason enough for increasing their international budget," said Belinda Barker, Time's marketing services director, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
For some of the media guarantors, EMS supported claims they could not substantiate previously.
"PES showed we had 311,000 readers. EMS showed we had 1.3 million. We've known this before; now we have proof," Ms. Barker said.
"We tend to know what's generally happening, because research should never come before common sense," said Paul Woolmington, managing director of Bozell 20/20 Media.
"But for the first time, we have data on lifestyle and attitudes on a pan-European basis. It isn't the Holy Grail, but it is a significant step forward in terms of better understanding of media values."
OUTLOOK FOR PES
Does EMS sound the death knell for PES? Some consider outdated the methods used by the largely print-oriented PES, which is conducted every two to three years by RSL Media, a division of RSL International.
"PES and [the European Business Readership Survey, another study] are obsolete. It's ridiculous in 1996 to base [marketing] plans on figures that are two years old. Also, when you try to reach the top 4% of the people in Europe, it is very difficult to interview them at home in the evening because they are rarely there," said Philips' Mr. Otker.
"EMS uses the telephone [in contrast to the PES face-to-face interviews], and that allows much better screening of the consumers. If they are not at home, you can call back."
For Readers' Digest, which took part in some previous PES 4 but not in PES 5 or 6 research, EMS also disclosed readership profiles that had been difficult to assess.
For example, the publication knew that the French- and German-speaking Swiss read the German and French editions distributed in Switzerland. But EMS for the first time revealed that Swiss Italians were subscribing to the magazine's Italian edition.
But RSL Media is loyal to PES. "We're completely committed to PES," said Katherine Page, director of RSL Media. "EMS is not a replacement for PES; they are two very different surveys."
She thinks future PES surveys will include more TV, yet still focus on the top 4% of Europeans.
"In the ideal world, we want a national readership survey, which covers every country, every part of the population, all incomes, all social grades, all ages," said Read Ms. Mortimer.
"But that's most unlikely for a long time, because the cost is huge and there are not enough of us [pan-European print media] to want to pay for it."