Dr. Mickey Galin Discusses MRI's Acquisition of Starch Communications
Q. First, will Starch Communications change its name?
Yes it will; it’s a really easy change— from GfK Starch Communications to MRI Starch Communications. The Starch name has a strong brand awareness and acceptance, and we certainly don’t want to interfere with that. But, we obviously do want everyone to know that Starch is now part of the MRI family.
Q. Why did MRI decide to acquire Starch Communications?
MRI took the lead in developing and releasing issue-specific magazine data, the type of audience granularity marketers and media buyers need in order to more evenly compare magazines with other media. We continue to vigorously pursue improvements in providing more robust, more granular and timely issue-specific data.
But MRI clients, and the industry in general, are also calling for metrics and insights that will enhance magazine advertising accountability. The MPA, for instance, is championing advertisers’ and publishers’ desire for issue-specific audience ratings.
In looking at the best ways to meet industry demand for this information, MRI saw unrealized synergies between MRI and Starch Communications–one a leader in print audience measurement, the other a leader in print advertising measurement. Our strategic vision is to expand our issue-specific measurement to include measuring ad recall and actions taken for ads within each issue. Starch’s unquestioned leadership in conducting ad readership studies and analyses is critical to realizing this vision.
Q. How will MRI and Starch clients be impacted in the short term?
From a structural standpoint, there will be very little impact in the short term. Starch clients will continue to deal with Starch sales and client services executives, and MRI clients with MRI sales and client services executives. And separate contracts will remain in effect.
Q. And from a product perspective, will Starch products change in the short term?
MRI Starch will continue to offer high-quality custom research, employing both the personal interview and ballot methodologies. This will not change. We are, however, going to pretty quickly focus on ramping up Starch’s syndicated offering―eStarch―which we think offers tremendous value to the marketplace. For instance, one of our immediate goals is to create an online data-delivery tool for this service. So, stay tuned!
Q. In the long-term, what is the vision for the combined MRI and Starch?
Well, beyond expanding eStarch, this question goes back to our rationale for the acquisition. If the marketplace needs and wants issue-specific advertising measurement, what MRI wants is to be deeply involved in providing these metrics. Starch has provided magazine ad recall and ad noting score norms for many years. They have recently migrated many of these studies to the Internet, using the same Web-panel database MRI uses for our Issue Specific Readership Study. This circumstance offers the possibility of overlaying Starch data on our issue-specific results. We intend to fully leverage this advantage to answer the industry’s need for issue-specific ad metrics.
Please contact us to receive an eStarch presentation.
Magazine Measurement: Right Direction, Wrong Speed
I have some good news and some bad news for magazine measurement.
Here's the good news: The value proposition between consumers and magazine brands has never been stronger. The relationship between them is emotional, engaged and very personal. The advertising is not something to be avoided, or even just tolerated, but enjoyed, welcomed, considered integral to the reading experience and highly likely to drive consumers to take action. And the relationship between the printed page and the Web is complementary, rather than cannibalistic.
So what's the bad news? Unless we find a way to communicate that value to advertisers, magazines will not survive as a viable and valued advertising medium. And without a system of measurement that is timely, accountable and most of all comparable to other media, we simply will not be able to communicate that good news.
Moving magazine measurement to the next level, then, is imperative for our survival and success.
In fact, there has been movement, and while it's been in the right direction, it has not been at the right speed. The magazine business doesn't exist in a silo, and the more change our clients see in other media, the more they need to see from us. In other words, advancing today's currency by baby steps will not be enough; we need to simultaneously leapfrog our industry into the future.
There is no doubt that significant progress has been made in the past 18 months in identifying and developing new tools to demonstrate the value of magazines on their own and combined with other media. So I would like to first acknowledge the steps taken to move our industry forward, especially by MRI.
MRI Issue Specific, by creating an index to the national study, allows the delivery of more timely information. The company's Local Market Service allows us to understand performance on a DMA basis, to better line up media delivery with business needs. And MediaDay is a planning tool that quantifies consumer engagement with multimedia platforms throughout the day.
We've also made progress with fused data, to replicate "single source." We applaud the partnership and collaboration of measurement services that are working together to bring new products to an ad community that needs to see media not in silos but in combination.
MRI has been especially willing to work with other services to provide the industry with magazine data fused with TV, online, mobile and new car buyer data. And JD Power is fusing its magazine study with its own online study.
Mendelsohn is adding more than 200 "companion" Web sites to its Affluent Magazine Survey.
Simmons has enhanced its study with Engagement and Local Market products, with a goal of going beyond demographics.
And Vista and Starch are providing additional metrics on ad readership, including actions taken after seeing an ad, and the advertising marketplace has been highly receptive.
But in a fragmented and dynamic media landscape, incremental change simply isn't enough: Our future is dependent on our shifting the conversation from "circulation" to "audience."
Let me be clear: I know that there is value to circulation as a measure of quality, and until we have an audience-based system that we have confidence in, that value must stay top of mind. But "audience" will be the first step toward comparability with other media, and toward our ability to combine them.
Second, we are fully in support of the MPA's new initiative to facilitate the development of an improved approach to measurement. To that end, the MPA worked with McKinsey to conduct interviews with two-dozen client and agency executives, to understand their needs. The plan focuses on three key audience-based measures: exposure to the magazine, engagement with the ads and consumer action taken.
Third, magazines must be considered as brands in any discussion of audience measurement. As our magazine brands expand to new platforms, they create multiple touch points for their audiences. Whether for publishers looking to gauge brand strength across platforms, advertisers looking at the performance of their campaigns in multiple media, or agencies building new media mix models, we must be able to understand how audiences are using brands and responding to advertising wherever those brands touch consumers.
Finally, we must see new technologies as an opportunity, not as a threat or an obstacle. We cannot simply reject alternative methods in favor of the status quo. It's not unlike the challenges that we are currently facing in digital measurement, where we are encouraging suppliers to consider a hybrid approach, which takes into account the strengths of different measurement methodologies as a short-term solution until a more perfect one comes along.
And while today's experiments with RFID and passive measurement may ultimately carry too many caveats and too long a time line, we must support what they represent. We cannot lose sight of our ultimate goal: A measurement system that is timely, accountable and comparable.
To that end, we need to be creative and flexible, and keep our eye on that goal. Especially given the positive story we have to tell, it would be sad, indeed, if measurement limitations alone prevent us from telling it.
MediaDay Gives Snapshot of Consumers’ Media Usage
It's no secret that people often do other things while watching TV or surfing the web. Newly released MediaDay data provide greater detail on your target consumer’s media usage behavior. For instance, as the chart below shows, among Millenials, 46.6% of all Internet usage in an average day was exclusive; for Young Boomers, it was 49.2%.
MediaDay also tells you about consumers' media multi-tasking behavior. As seen below, 16.5% of Millennials’ Internet usage occurred while simultaneously viewing TV. Among Young Boomers, 17.7% of Internet usage took place in conjunction with TV viewing.
MediaDay also provides new points of media consumption including: DVRs, instant messaging, online blogs, online videos, podcasts, video games (online or offline) and video-on-demand.
MediaDay puts content in context with information about audiences’ consumption of—and engagement with—media within the framework of how they spend time 24/7. Please contact us to receive the MediaDay webcast.
Ad Council Improves Creative and Media Strategies to Connect with Audiences using MRI Data
"MRI is the gold standard in understanding the media habits and psychographics of our many target audiences. It has helped us determine which campaigns make the most sense for each or our media partners, depending upon their audience," said Ad Council SVP of Research Tony Foleno. "The data are particularly valuable in providing quantitative validation of insights gleaned from our qualitative research and in providing insights that help lead to effective creative work in the appropriate media."
“In the past, we distributed all campaigns to all media with the hope that the media outlets would choose the spots that make the most sense for their audiences,” said Ad Council SVP Media James Baumann. “Now, with the help of MRI, we have the ability to strategically target campaigns based on audience demos and attitudinal profiles, essentially shortening the menu of PSAs to those that make the most sense for each media partner.”
The Ad Council uses MRI data to guide its process for campaign development and implementation by:
For example, when working with media partner BET, the Ad Council’s media team identified those campaigns most likely to resonate with viewers:
Similarly, working with magazine partner, Hearst, the media team looked at a range of titles to narrow down the campaigns most appropriate for different readers. They quantified, for instance, which topics would most resonate with Seventeen Magazine readers:
When campaigns affect positive social change, the benefits are apparent to everyone involved in the process－donors, volunteer agencies, media partners, and, of course, the people whose lives are changed as a result of the campaign messages,” said Mr. Baumann. “MRI’s role in providing insights and intelligence has become invaluable to the success of our mission.”
Behind the Numbers
MRI Provides Insight into Kids Direct and Indirect Purchasing Power
A new school year brings reading and writing for kids–and tabbing and analyzing for marketers eager to follow the latest youth trends. For businesses targeting kids, MRI’s American Kids Study provides insights into children’s purchasing power and influence. Here are a few insights:
Operating Expenses―What Kids Buy With Their Own Money
Boys are more likely than girls to spend their money on toys/board games and video games, while girls are more likely to directly purchase clothes and make-up. In fact, even at these young ages, 21 percent of girls report they purchase make-up.
In general, fewer children from high-income homes spend their own money on purchases like snacks and toys.
Balance of Power
Although the buck stops for many purchase decisions with parents, kids and parents also make joint decisions. For high-ticket items such as computers and vacations, for instance, parents tend to retain decision power; but for day-to-day purchases such as video games, movie rentals and which restaurant to visit, kids clearly have influence. Income plays into the balance of power; with families from higher-income homes being more likely to select movie rentals and restaurants together.
Reaction to Advertising
If marketers want to get both boys’ and girls’ attention, working “funny things” into the creative will clearly help. And, music resonates particularly well with girls.
For more information about MRI’s American Kids Study, please contact us.
New and Noteworthy
New Age and Educational Data Released in Issue Specific Study
The new Issue Specific demographic data released in late August includes:
Please contact us for more information.
Webcast on using MRI's Psychographic Segmentations to Identify Shoppers to be Held in October
Dr. Mickey Galin will lead the ARF Webcast “How Attitudes Push The Shopping Cart: Using Psychographic Segmentations to Identify Types of Shoppers” on Wednesday, October 8, from 12:00-1:00. Register today using the code MRI1008.
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