Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Measuring the Olympics

As the world prepares to watch the games of the XXIX Olympiad, NBC is preparing to watch the world. The research team at NBC Universal is well aware that TV’s, laptops and cell phones across the globe will be tuned into Olympics news and coverage and their intention is to measure viewers and their behavior.

It’s a huge endeavor that no single company has yet solved and therefore, NBC created its own calculation called Total Audience Measurement Index (TAMI) that seeks to quantify viewership across mediums. The index will draw TV viewership data from Nielsen, Video on Demand from Rentrak, Internet audience data from Quantcast and on-site metrics from Omniture. If they succeed in producing valuable data, the index may establish a new standard for understanding advertising reach across a multi-device environment.

This fusion of measurement tools will undoubtedly provide an interesting picture of impressions, yet the problem of tying these metrics together still exists. Each of these tools reaches out to disparate groups within the population (i.e., Nielson’s panel, Quantcast’s members, Web site viewers) without the ability to tie them together to glean patterns of multimedia use on the part of individuals or segments. Our research shows that 66 percent of adults interested in interactive TV are online and watching TV simultaneously, which brings the quality of impression or “attention” of the viewer into question. But I suppose that brand advertisers deal with this all the time. To their credit, NBC is attempting to quantify individual behavior through a small panel of (privacy adverse) users carrying Integrated Media Measurement devices that will pick up TV, audio, mobile, and Internet signals. (I’d like to see that gadget). Yet, the larger sample will still be a composite metric that serves as a proxy for a true measurement industry standard.

Shortfalls notwithstanding, kudos to NBC’s research team for pioneering total event impact measurement. I for one will be watching the TAMI stats between rounds of table tennis.

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