CBS’ Poltrack Unveils New Media Planning Tool

Advertising Week presentation to focus on TV word-of-mouth affinities

CBS and the Keller Fay Group next Tuesday will unveil new research that demonstrates how television remains the dominant driver of meatspace word-of-mouth conversations, those offline exchanges between friends and relatives that focus on consumer brands and products. 

In a late-afternoon Advertising Week presentation, CBS chief research officer David Poltrack will take the wraps off a new media planning tool that blends Nielsen TV ratings, Keller Fay’s WOM metrics and his own proprietary segmentation analysis.

Poltrack has 30 minutes of material planned for his presentation, which is set to begin at 4:45 p.m. at the NASDAQ MarketSite in Times Square. For those who cannot sit in on the event, here’s a sneak preview of Poltrack’s presentation:

Television is far and away the leading information source cited in WOM exchanges, as it is specifically referred to in 20 percent of all offline brand conversations. Commercials account for 11.4 percent of TV citations, while programming is a factor in 7.6 percent. By way of comparison, the No. 3 most-cited medium is the brand website (5.2 percent).

Among media trendsetters, which is one of a half-dozen consumer segments CBS has identified—others include streamers, TV moderates and TV companions, a somewhat marginalized group that keeps the TV on all day in order to foster the illusion of company—27 percent mention TV advertising when discussing brands, conversations they have 97.3 times per week, on average.

Poltrack characterizes the media trendsetter as an “urban, multicultural social diffuser,” someone who is a “first adopter of entertainment-based products and technology.”

In other words, they’re a garrulous bunch, and when they talk, their peers listen.

By integrating Nielsen ratings with the WOM data, CBS can isolate the programs that are consumed by media trendsetters, thereby identifying the TV environments that are best suited for brands looking to cash in on WOM exchanges.

The media planning tool is designed to help marketers take better advantage of TV’s disproportionately powerful influence over WOM conversations.  

“We now can measure the volume of conversations about, say, new cars or movies and then tie them into specific TV programs,” Poltrack said. “These increasingly sophisticated analytics help us give our clients so much more insight and direction in terms of their advertising campaigns.”

To illustrate the interrelationships between the sought-after consumer segment, WOM conversations and TV viewing, Poltrack zeroed in on the Monday night prime-time lineup. When the three data sets are laid on top of one another, it becomes apparent that the people who are having the most active conversations about automotive brands are also over-indexing on CBS’s comedy lineup (Two and a Half Men and Mike & Molly put up particularly high marks) and NBC’s The Voice. On the flip side, ABC’s Dancing with the Stars came up short on all three fronts.

Looking at the broadcast week as a whole, Fox’s American Idol draws the largest cadre of brand-obsessed viewers; per the blended data, Idol fans engage in 842 million brand conversations per week. ABC’s Modern Family trails Idol with an average of 768 million weekly brand exchanges, while Two and a Half Men takes third with 694 million.

Naturally, those results are a function of each show’s relatively huge Nielsen ratings. Per live-plus-seven-day ratings data, Idol was last season’s No. 1 non-NFL program among the 18-to-49 demo (5.8), while Modern Family was tops among scripted series (5.5).

In spite of the hyper-caffeinated chatter of Twitter and other social media platforms, Poltrack notes that offline WOM remains the most common form of brand conversation. “Despite the fact that we’re all glued to our smart phones, Twitter activity and other digital platforms account for just 8 percent of our daily brand conversations,” Poltrack said. “People are still talking to each other, and Keller Fay has found an effective way to measure that other 92 percent."

“The numbers of conversations generated by the audiences of TV shows is truly staggering, but these statistics are not generally familiar to most media planners because the data have not been available before,” said Keller Fay CEO Ed Keller. “The integration of these measurement systems will allow planners for the first time to optimize their media planning with word of mouth as a strategic objective.”