NBCU Boosts TAMi for Winter Games

NBC Universal today provided more details on how it would handle cross-platform audience measurement of its multimedia coverage of the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. (Execs anticipate an audience of 200 million across 17 days of coverage — which would be second only to the ’94 Lillehammer Games).

Called TAMi (total audience measurement index), the  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. They are: Arbitron, Omniture, comScore, Keller Fay, TiVo and iMMi.

The research will combine various methodologies to demonstrate the effectiveness of advertising in the Olympics. For each day of coverage starting Feb. 12, NBCU will issue a daily TAMi measure for total Olympics media exposure across 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 (shown above), president of research for NBCU. “No other media event gives 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 measurement, NBCU is turning to a collaboration among 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. The initiative will provide data via a 2,000 panel sample that can be projected across 115 million U.S. TV homes, said Wurtzel. It will also give greater insights about viewing via computers inside and outside of the home, and even distinguish between who’s watching on a laptop versus a desktop unit.

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 Games. 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 audience measures in order to study viewer 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.

Once again, NBCU is also partnering with iMMi to track individual consumers’ 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.

Agencies applauded NBCU’s moves to glean greater cross-platform insights. “It is an excellent way to take a look at this cross-platform phenomena and see how and where it’s going,” said Lyle Schwartz, managing partner, WPP’s GroupM. “I think the Olympics is a special event with large enough scale across enough days to make a lot of this analysis readable,” he added. “You’re not going to see too many events out there that generate the scope, reach and involvement across these platforms.”

See also:

“British Columbia Looks Past Olympics”

“Social Rings for Winter Olympics”

“Digital OOH’s Olympic Shot”