ESPN to Work With comScore and Arbitron on Scalable Multi-Platform Measurement Solution

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comScore and Arbitron have joined forces to develop a five-platform measurement initiative, with ESPN on board as its charter client and design collaborator. The goal is to create a scalable process for measuring consumption of video, audio and display content across radio, TV, PCs, smartphones and tablets. While many of the specifics will be revealed at presentations during Ad Week next month, CableFAX caught up with Glenn Enoch, vp, Integrated Media Research for ESPN, who shed light on a few details.

The industry has a real need for this kind of measurement, according to Enoch. Whether it’s the ARF or IAB, that’s what people are talking about. “Every seminar, every conference they talk about the critical need about understanding consumer using different devices. We lack an industry solution to understand what’s going on.”

So the network decided to step in. ESPN is a member of CIMM (Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement), which recently sponsored cross-platform research initiatives on a small scale. 3 of those trials involved ESPN—2 with Arbitron and 1 with comScore. Though the tests’ sample size was small (approximately 500-1000), the network believed that both companies, using the existing data each has access to on a national level, could create a solution that’s scalable.

One of the core objectives of this study, according to Enoch, is to make the projects under ESPN XP, the umbrella research initiative that studies consumer behavior around sporting events, work on a larger scale. They’ve worked on short-term projects in the past, but nothing that would function with all platforms at once. “We need something operating 365 days a year,” Enoch said, on a national scale and predicable for the U.S. comScore’s access to set-top box data and ability to measure activity on the Internet will be coupled with Arbitron’s access to 70,000 panelists across the U.S. as well as some radio and set-top box data. “In effect, it’s taking the best available sources of data from these companies,” Enoch said.

The hard part, said Enoch, is the overlapping circles between different types of media consumption. For instance, one group might of consumers might watch TV and listen to the radio, while another might use the Internet and listen to the radio. The challenge lies in measuring consumption across multiple types of media.

Phase 1 of the initiative is already underway, said Enoch, with Arbitron and comScore working to provide a measurement solution. He hopes to start seeing data early next year, and if phase 1 works well, the idea is to create a syndicated product for industry-wide usage. He hopes the solution will be particularly useful for advertisers. “There’s certainly a role here for media planning,” Enoch said. “We lack some critical intelligence in that area, how people are exposed to different platforms. All agencies have figured out a way to do this, but it can only be improved by having some real data in the system.”

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