Mar 23, 2010 at 06:54 PM
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2010 World Cup: Starting Point For ESPN's New Cross Media Measurement Initiative

ESPN continues to beef up its research capabilities by looking outside of its own four walls.

Yesterday at the ARF’s Re:think 2010 conference in New York, ESPN Research+Analytics unveiled a wide ranging cross-media research initiative, which it hopes will more comprehensively study consumer behavior around major sporting events like the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. By partnering with a collection of research companies and Wharton business school, ESPN XP will attempt to measure media usage and advertiser effects for the World Cup across multiple media platforms including TV, radio, Internet, mobile and print.

“We have learned a lot about cross-media behavior since we began work in this field in 2002,” said Artie Bulgrin, Senior Vice President, Research and Analytics. “ESPN XP represents a major step forward in our commitment to further advance our knowledge about multi-media use, and the total and incremental impact it has on our clients’ media campaigns.”

Companies initially joining ESPN in this initiative include The Keller Fay Group, Knowledge Networks, The Media Behavior Institute, The Nielsen Company and The Wharton Interactive Media Initiative (WIMI).

The "Worldwide Leader in Sports" says that the World Cup is only the first step in an extensive series of quarterly projects that will fall under the ESPN XP umbrella. It plans to apply its World Cup learnings to football in the fall and other sports during 2011, with the goal being to create a scalable research plan to measure cross-media audiences 12 months out of the year by 2012.

Last Fall, ESPN/Disney joined a similar cross media initiative comprised of 14 content producers called the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement. At the time, ESPN President, George Bodenheimer, had this to say:

"When you get down to it, we're all looking for answers to some very similar questions. It makes sense to come together to help advance the measurement of media across all platforms to serve our strategic needs, while helping the industry build smarter accountability for our advertisers."

Here's ESPN's rundown of the contributions that each ESPN XP member company will be expected to contribute for the World Cup:

  • The KELLER FAY GROUP will measure changes in volume and shifts in polarity and tone of word-of-mouth conversations related to brands sponsoring ESPN content during the World Cup. Results will highlight both the unique and synergistic effects of ESPN platforms in driving word of mouth among fans, and the ebb and flow of conversations will be analyzed in relation to activity generated from World Cup media plans.
  • KNOWLEDGE NETWORKS will be employ their Total Touch method to measure weekly and total exposure to the World Cup across all platforms, including live viewing, time-shifted viewing and out-of-home consumption. At 32 days, this will be the longest field cycle for a Total Touch project. Additionally, this will be the first time the methodology will be fielded to a Spanish-speaking sample, and it is the largest number of media properties measured for a Total Touch project (TV, Internet, mobile plus radio and print). Knowledge Networks will also be providing specific characteristics (e.g. shopper data) about World Cup consumers.
  • The MEDIA BEHAVIOR INSTITUTE will be applying their USA TouchPoints cross-media research service to the World Cup. USA TouchPoints is built upon the "consumer-focused, multimedia survey" originally developed by the IPA in the UK to provide insights into how people use media. Generating particularly granular and comprehensive measurement, USA TouchPoints is the first combined application of the eDiary and Observational research, completed among recent respondents of the Mediamark (MRI) Survey of the American Consumer, with contextual insights combining Americans’ activities and media choices alongside the products and brands they use. USA TouchPoints was first announced at the AAAA Transformation Conference just three weeks ago (March 1st), and ESPN is the first company to apply it in a live market situation.
  • The NIELSEN COMPANY will employ a variety of assets to measure TV, Internet and Mobile audiences, to determine advertiser exposure across all platforms, to ascertain the amount of simultaneous in-home exposure of TV and Internet and perhaps most importantly, provide a custom fusion of three-screen usage (TV, Web, Mobile). Nielsen’s Life360 group will collect a "video diary" from World Cup viewers – marking the first time Life360 video diaries will be used to deliver fan engagement with a major sporting event. ESPN XP’s World Cup project will mark the first use of Nielsen’s electronic mobile panel; the first large-scale (more than 10,000 panelists) single-source measurement of cross-platform (Internet/TV) behavior for a major event; the first time Nielsen Online will provide a true complete internet measurement of a major event, including web site usage, streaming video and streaming radio; and the first time Nielsen will work with another company to estimate total cross-platform reach.
  • Leveraging its robust customer data environment, ESPN is working with the WHARTON INTERACTIVE MEDIA INITIATIVE (WIMI) of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania to build a state-of-the-art predictive model to understand and project "multichannel" consumption habits of its audience across digital properties (Internet and Mobile).

    “This is about the future of cross-media measurement,” said Glenn Enoch, Vice President of Integrated Media Research. “We are working with these companies to help develop a model for the industry, to advance knowledge about cross-media research and behavior, to find techniques that work and discard ones that don't. We want to bring work in this area closer to currency measures and bring the industry closer to a day when measuring cross-platform behavior is a standard practice instead of a special project.”

    Earlier this month, ESPN also launched, in partnership with TNS, the Euro Sports Poll which aims to better understand consumer behavior with regards to European sports.