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In the world of media planning, proprietary methods abound. Most agencies and media buying services claim to have a system that gives them an edge over their competitors, but few are willing to share details.

Media That Works, a Cincinnati-based media independent, gave an inside look at its CAT Factors method, a trademarked system it uses for planning about $150 million annually for its clients.

CAT Factors accounts for the three TV audience attributes from the name's acronym: clutter, attentiveness and targetability.

To measure clutter, the system takes into account all of the non-programming time surrounding a show; this is believed to reduce viewer attentivenss.

To further account for attentiveness, CAT also factors in qualitative research on the attentiveness levels of specific dayparts and target audiences.

Lastly, CAT factors in targetability, using a combination of MRI data and proprietary client data to determine whether audience targets would watch specific programming.

For example, using the CAT system for three comparable brands, MTW found significantly different reach and costs using the same programming schedule.

"ABC World News Tonight," for instance, delivers a cost per rating point of adults 18-plus of about $7,489, but delivered considerably different efficiencies for the three brands' target audiences.

For product A's targets, "World News" delivered a cost per point of $9,726. For product B, it had a CPP of $12,693. And for product C, it was $12,912.

Because of the complicated nature of the factoring system, it would be impossible to provide details of how those efficiencies were derived. But Randy Scott, marketing director of Easy Spirit division of U.S. Shoe Corp., an MTW client, says it made a big difference to his company's media plan when they began using it this year.

The marketer previously had avoided prime-time network TV because of its high cost per thousand viewers for the audience target, he says.

Mr. Scott says the planning method provided Easy Spirit with a scientific method to support the company's desire to move into prime time.

"By using the CAT system we were able to justify using prime time, and it seems to have worked," he says. "We're getting a strong response for our advertising this year."

MTW uses the system for all its network, syndication, cable and spot TV buys and has a similar system for planning magazines.

"The market environment has grown too complicated to believe that simple age and gender cells are an accurate descriptor of anybody's media, purchasing or lifestyle habits," says Sue Bentzinger, MTW VP. "The marketplace is much more competitive today and most advertisers don't have that luxury for waste."

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