MindShare to read 20,000 media minds

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in a new global-research effort, 20,000 or more consumers armed with hand-held devices will spend 48 hours punching in their encounters with any forms of media or marketing, in a quest to gain unprecedented level of insight into real-time media consumption.

WPP Group's MindShare will roll out the research initiative, called MindSet, having completed tests in the U.K., Ireland and Mexico. During their two-day MindSet stint, people record their exposure to every way a marketer might try to reach them, from TV to beer mats in a bar and free samples at the supermarket. And they even record what kind of mood they are in at the time.

"Every medium is measured differently, and many are not measured at all. Clients are asking for neutral measurement. MindSet measures all channels, in the same platform, and in real time," said Sheila Byfield, global director, MindShare Consumer Insight.

Marketers asked about MindSet said it addresses their concerns about issues like comparing the efficiency of different media and channels, the pitfalls of inaccurate self-reporting using diaries or questionnaires, and tracking increasingly mobile consumers.

Ian Beavis, senior VP-marketing, Mitsubishi Motors North America, said the research would have to be done properly but said it was a great idea: "I'm not seeing anything at the moment helping me maximize my media mix," he commented. "We know intuitively that consumers are grazing across multiple media platforms, but most studies are siloed."

"This is a tremendous opportunity," agreed Cheryl Idell, exec VP-media and marketing planning, Twentieth Century Fox and a MindShare client. "It doesn't exist now. It's important to have consumers be the central source and record everything they see, yet all individual media research tools just let us look at individual silos. Moviegoers are among the most mobile, active consumers there are."

"If they can pull it off, it sounds fabulous," added Karl Ploeger, VP-creative and media services at H&R Block. He said the research could be useful if it avoids biases inherent in self-reporting.

MindSet research is starting now with 900 people in the U.K. and Ireland. The U.S., Japan and India will follow later in 2004. MindShare CEO Dominic Proctor said he expects MindSet to reach at least 20,000 people in the global rollout.

"It will extend our view of multichannel exposure beyond traditional media," said William A. Cook, senior VP-research at industry research group ARF. "With advertisers' great interest in cross-media opportunities today, studies such as this will be of great value."

`Where are you?'

Each MindSet participant is given a basic Zire hand-held personal digital assistant for 48 hours. An alarm rings every hour, a signal to complete a simple survey, prompted by questions starting with "Where are you?" A person who says he's on a bus, for instance, would be given choices like billboards and ads on buses and taxis, and asked what he can see.

"You only see the channels you could see in that place," Ms. Byfield said, who will be in New York this week to meet with marketers. "If you're in a supermarket, that could be two-for-one offers, free samples, everything appropriate to a retail environment." Only the channel is recorded, not what product an ad is for.

"A whole area of media planning has become exceedingly hot-how people consume media, who they're with, where they are, their moods," said Brian Jacobs, exec VP-head of global media at WPP's Millward Brown research group. "Anything that provides information about the how of media rather than how many is good."

MindShare funded the early tests and rollouts in the U.K. and Ireland. Each country will pay for MindSet in its market. MindShare clients are also expected to chip in, and studies can be tailored for them.

contributing: mercedes m. cardona

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