In Terms of ROI: Integrating Media and Shopping - Bill Harvey - MediaBizBloggers

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This week's blog posting recounts a very interesting conversation I had with a top network research executive on November 19, 2009 which gave me new insights. With his permission I share it with you here. Its core idea is that media and the in-store experience can be integrated to re-invigorate marketing.

"You know," he started, "media networks can successfully deliver messages to consumers in the right environments with greater precision than ever. Then, they frequently disappear into a further part of the funnel where purchases actually happen – the store. To us, tools to better penetrate this mystery have been lacking – until now," he said, meaning TRA, which now provides purchase information to networks on a regular basis for the first time.

I was having this conversation with Todd Cunningham, SVP of Strategic Insights and Research, MTV Networks.

"We researchers can point out the ways that anything can be made better," Todd went on as I agreed, "but there's no question about it, TRA has brought all of us in media an HOV lane closer to point of purchase."

His point was that by combining purchase data with audience measurement, the door is now open to cross-fertilization between these two pillars of marketing; buyers and sellers are learning how to create synergies between exposures through media and what happens at point of sale.

This can lead to very creative implementations that span media and point of purchase. One can start very predictably and simply with brand integration within a program and lead to the appearance of one of the characters of that program in-store as a standee end aisle display (life-size photo on cardboard), perhaps in the very aisle where that brand is sold. And the creative juices start flowing when marketers and their media partners contemplate far more imaginative integrations perhaps across multiple screens.

All of this is now brought one step closer by making consumer purchasing data a regular part of the network executive experience. This was precisely what we had contemplated, but could not predict exactly how it would play out in the hands of our clients. TRA has been very focused. We have concentrated on two ideas: increasing targeting of ads by combining purchase data with TV ratings and measuring the resulting ROI. We are starting with TV and CPG and expanding across media and product categories. What we missed was the speed with which creative uses of this data would change the way our clients -- networks, marketers and agencies -- went about their business.

Thus I was at a momentary loss when Todd asked, "Besides merging it with viewing data, what can be learned just from deep dive analysis of the shopping data themselves?" After a moment's thought I realized we had come across an interesting finding based on the shopping data. "We can detect when a brand is doing some kind of feature display within a store. We can see the signature of that in terms of a sales spike that is not explained by TV or price." Todd murmured approvingly and encouraged us to delve deeper. Stay tuned for more great insights from TRA and others.

Bill Harvey has spent over 35 years leading the way in the area of media research with special emphasis on the New Media. Bill can be contacted at

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