MediaVest Is Looking for Brand 'Swingers'

Media Buyer Tests New Metric That Rewards Shows With High Number of Product Switchers

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A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.

NEW YORK ( -- After years of doing business the same way, lately it seems as if there's no end to new metrics for TV.

For decades, the TV industry has been bought and sold based on CPMs, or the cost to reach 1,000 viewers who watch a certain program, based on gross rating points. That process has evolved in recent years to include Nielsen's "C3" metric, which measures the average commercial ratings over the course of three days of time-shifted viewing. But this year, Publicis' MediaVest is seeking to add a secondary guarantee to its TV deals with select networks, based on new data from media and marketing research company TRA.

Consumers' purchasing habits
The secondary guarantee will be based on the percentage of consumers who are either heavy purchasers or "swing purchasers" delivered by a certain schedule of TV shows on networks such as CBS and Discovery Channel, both of which are subscribers to TRA and the Media TRAnalytics system. TRAnalytics is a data system that marries second-by-second live and time-shifted set-top box data from 2.1 million DVR households (including 1.2 million Tivo households with an additional 300,000 households from other cable operators) with a single-source database of purchasing data from 370,000 households.

It's the ability to track how commercial viewing affects actual product sales that most appeals to MediaVest's clients base, made up of some of the top consumer-packaged goods marketers, including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Mars Inc. and Kraft. More than ever, these marketers want to reach swing purchasers, or consumers who are more likely to switch brands of a certain product.

"We see these type of shoppers as the most valuable, and they can be the ones who have the characteristics of heavy purchasers," said Jim Kite, MediaVest's president-connections research and analytics. "What we're saying now is, 'How many of these people are we reaching in a typical schedule? Now let's look at those dayparts and programs that they are more prevalent to be viewing.'"

Mr. Kite said that having a secondary guarantee based on purchasing behavior will also change the billing process between advertisers and networks. "If [a network] has more swing purchasers, that's terrific, or if they deliver less then we'll require paybacks."

Ready for this year's upfront
MediaVest is currently testing TRA's data with its network partners, and plans to transact deals in this year's upfront, when networks sell up to 80% of their ad inventory before the start of the fall TV season. Efficiency plays such as TRA's will factor heavily into the current marketplace, which will be softer on pricing and laser-focused on value opportunities for advertisers working with as much as 10% to 20% less of a budget vs. last year.

"As the CFOs become the CMO, we're a part of that shift of marketers moving toward more efficient media-buying practices," TRA President Bill Harvey told Ad Age. Eventually, TRA would like to include a three-screen solution to clients, incorporating data from TV as well as web and mobile platforms, he added. But for the near term, "we want to make TV stronger, approvable and more accountable."

In addition to MediaVest, CBS and Discovery, Mr. Harvey said one more agency has recently signed up for TRA's data, as well as two more cable networks, all soon to be formally announced.

Mr. Kite said MediaVest has been analyzing months' worth of set-top-box data to be sure it makes sense for media buyers and sellers. However, "there's a risk attached to all this, and that's why we're really only talking to the networks who are realistic about the world we're in," he said. "Clients are under a lot of pressure from their CFOs and CMOs about the money they're putting into television, so this could be empirical proof that the money we put behind TV networks and programs and dayparts is actually delivering those people who bought our product."

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CORRECTION: TRA's Media TRAnalytics is a product sold only by TRA, not Tivo, as eralier reported. The product includes data from Tivo's 1.2 million households, and an additional 300,000 from other cable operators. Additionally, Mediavest will be transacting on secondary guarantees based on TRA data this upfront, and is currently in discussions with participating networks.

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