NBCU Unveils Improved TAMi for Vancouver Games

Anticipating a total audience of perhaps 200 million across 17 days of coverage (which would be second only the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics which reached 204 million), NBC Universal provided more details today on how it will provide daily cross-platform audience measures of its multimedia coverage of the games in Vancouver, Canada.

Called TAMi (total audience measurement index), the  cross-platform media exposure metric might as well be called the “everyone but Nielsen” metric. No fewer than six research firms will be providing NBCU with audience research including Arbitron, Omniture, comScore, Keller Fay, TiVo and iMMi.

The research will combine various methodologies to demonstrate to advertisers the effectiveness of advertising in the Olympics. For each day of NBCU’s Olympics (Feb. 12-28), NBCU will issue a daily TAMi measure for total Olympics media exposure across the multiple platforms airing Olympics content, including network and cable TV, online, video on demand and mobile.

“The unique scope and duration of the Olympics provides us with the opportunity to see consumer behavior at warp speed,” said Alan Wurtzel, president of research for NBC Universal. “No other media event give us such an enormous amount of content that is consumed by so many people, across so  many different platforms, for such a long period of time. From a research perspective, it’s a fast-forward two or three years ahead in furthering our understanding of media behavior, allowing us to see the future today.” Wurtzel, who is also the architect of the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement, has commissioned four research projects to get more detailed insight than is possible via the traditional TV ratings that Nielsen provides.

For quantifiable single-source, cross-platform measurement, NBCU is turning to a collaboration between Arbitron, Omniture and comScore, a partnership announced at the end of last year. The study will use data from Arbitron’s portable people meter service in 33 markets combined with Internet data from comScore and Omniture. Data will include simultaneous online and TV viewing. And while that initiative covers viewing to national TV and online (but not mobile), it will provide data via a 2,000 panel sample that is projectable across 115 million U.S. TV homes, said Wurtzel. It will also provide greater insights about viewing to both sets and computers in and outside of the home and even distinguish between who’s watching on a laptop versus a desktop computer.

To understand the role of social networking and its impact on audiences and  advertising, NBCU will turn to Keller Fay’s Talk Tracks. The firm will measure all forms of Olympic “word of mouth” communication, including face-to-face, phone and Internet via interviews conducted with 8,000 consumers before and during the Olympics. In addition, Keller Fay will follow up with 2,700 custom interviews for additional qualitative insights.

Through its partnership with TiVo, NBCU will have access to second-by-second measures of the audience in order to understand audience retention for both Olympic programming and commercials.

And NBCU has just struck a deal with Google to determine to what extent online search activity spikes after Olympics spots air. The net made a similar arrangement earlier this year with Google for an episode of Saturday Night Live that was sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, Wurtzel said.

Once again, NBCU is also partnering with iMMi to track a single consumer’s Olympic exposure across all media. Panelists in the study will carry an iMMi smartphone that tracks exposure to TV, online and mobile devices. The data is expected to yield a greater understanding of what consumers are watching, when they’re watching it and why they choose to watch the Olympics on a particular device. While the iMMi data is useful in terms of three-screen usage insights, Wurtzel noted that for now it is not projectable given the small sample size of just 40 participants.