It is not surprising that there is a large amount of advertising research data available from a variety of sources, because of the many billions of dollars spent on advertising each year.
The Nielsen Television Index is one of the most widely used program rating services. Until recently the company used a combination of electronic recorders and dairies to record program viewing. The former often referred to as a passive meter is attached to a television set and records when the set is on and how long it is tuned to a given channel. Thus it is capable of providing detailed data on a program’s total audience.
Note that the above is on a home and not a person basis for the machine cannot record who is viewing nor for how long. Information of the latter type is obtained using a diary. The use of this method assumes that panel members will cooperate and do so by accurately recording the viewing of individuals. Even so, that dairy cannot provide a minute by minute viewing record by individual.
A major problem with the dairy method is that many panel members record only once a week what programs they viewed; this tends to result in the more popular shows being over-reported and the less popular shows underreported. To overcome this problem and provide a continuous record of the viewing of individual household members, Nielsen is using a new electronic device called a People Meter. This is a remote controlled instrument with buttons that when punched, signal a control box that a specific person is viewing TV (each household member is assigned a specific button). This information is recorded electronically and sent to a computer that has on file the age and sex of each of each household member. Nielsen’s sample of People Meters is made up of 2,000 households and is expected to increase to 4,000.
Arbitron provides measures of local TV, cable, and radio audiences using diaries and meters. The services covers 214 TV markets and 260 radio markets. Arbitron TV provide information similar ot that of Nielsen. Its radio reports provide information about the composition of the listening audience as well as their listening locations. The company is in the process of converting to the use of People Meters.
The Simmons Market Research Bureau provides an annual “Study of Media & Markets’ which uses a sample of 19,000 adults. It reports exposure to all media (TV, radio, magazines, and newspaper) as well as product usage, leisure activities, and financial services, Usage information is gathered by brand and is concerned with purchase frequency and volume. Usage and exposure data are reported by viewing areas, major demographics, and psychographics. Simmons also provides ratings of local newspaper. Data are gathered from adults via telephone.
Media-mark Research provides a syndicated product research somewhat similar to that of Simmons. It is based on personal interviewers conducted annually with some 20,000 adults concerning their exposure to advertising media and purchases of a wide range of products and services. Its newspaper coverage is limited – 10 cities versus for Simmons.
The Starch Advertisements Readership Service provides readership measures of ads contained in consumer, farm, and business magazines as well as newspapers. Four measures are reported – nonreader, noted (respondent who remembers seeing the and in the issue studied); associated (respondent read some part of the and that specified brand or sponsor) and read most (respondent read 50 percent or more of the ad text). Each study uses samples of 200-300 respondents who, in the aggregate, mirror demographics of the particular magazine’s total readers. All interviewers are done by a trained staff.