Measuring the Impact of Traditional Media

by Phil Buckley on October 20, 2010

in Analytics

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Because there is no limit to the snacks, coffee and soda at this event I’m not experiencing the post-lunch slowdown, so let’s keep going!

Next up is Donna Mercer is the COO at Howard Merrell & Partners talking about the impact of traditional media.

First, she has an awesome necklace on. Donna, if you see this post let me know where you bought that, I think I just shortened my Christmas shopping task.

First slide is of Fenway Park (home of the Red Sox) so this is going to be good! She shows that the average 3 hour baseball game is actually only 14 minutes of live action.

Radio = dying

Newspapers = dying

Myth or Reality?

The Video Consumer Mapping Study out of Ball State was a 4 screen study covering tv screen, computer screen, all mobile and finally “other” screens. It measured 750 million minutes of media consumption on those screens.

What they found was old media was generally under-reported, and new media was being over-reported. Basically most people are looking at a screen of some sort at least 8 hours a day. TV usage goes up as age does.

You have to know your audience!


There is active and passive ways to collect the data. The radio people used Arbitron ratings which is basically a radio listening diary to write out daily. Newer is Portable People Meters (PPM) where you carry around a dohickey that monitors your listening for you.

Although this seems kinda cool, it’s really only circumstantial evidence. Maybe the radio was on while you were paying no attention to it. Is that really a listener?

The future is the PPM. It’s not perfect, but it’s clearly the future, even though it’s very expensive.


TV penetration is about 99%. It is measured 3 ways:

  1. Written diary – start and stop times, what channel you’re on and who’s watching
  2. Set top meter – on and off and what channel
  3. Peoplemeter – set top meter + each person in house gets a widget for intent

Still not perfect. People forget to do some of these steps.

Each time new technology is added to measure better, we find that more people are using that medium.


Harder to measure because they are measured in so many different ways besides just paid subscribers.

The future of newspapers? Even the smartest people can only offer opinions.


One of the interesting things about magazines is a “pass-along” circulation. Bridal magazines generally have 20 owners before being discarded!

Take aways

The average adult sees between 900 and 5000 ad messages every single day. Traditional media composes a big part of that. In the big cities that number increases.

Traditional media continues to lose ads to web based because of cost and the increased targeting available.

Lots of follow up questions about the changing demographics and viewing habits in traditional media. TiVO, podcasts, hulu and the like.

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