The Importance of Using Media Research and Tools

When considering an advertising and/or marketing agency, it’s a good rule of thumb to confirm that their service promise is backed by appropriate media, research and management software and services. It’s important to ask if this potential business partner has certain capabilities in house and specific procedures in place—not simply access to an outsourced third-party who could in turn make their client’s business suffer. A prime example is media; many agencies claim that they “do media,” when in actuality they don’t.

In order to create the greatest impact for their clients, it is imperative for all agencies that plan and buy media, no matter their size, to utilize the unique and innovative tools made available to the media industry. Following is a comprehensive list and description of requisite research tools and the accompanying software that interprets the captured data.

Top research sources include Nielsen and Arbitron ratings, Scarborough, MRI (Mediamark Research & Intelligence), Monroe Mendelsohn, SQAD and SRDS (Standard Rate & Data Service). However, the most efficient way to utilize these programs is to run them in conjunction with software that can interpret the data, such as Donovan Data Systems, Strata, SmartPlus and IMS (Interactive Market Systems).

Donovan Data Systems, Strata and SmartPlus are all systems that run buying programs which help buyers/planners decipher the television and radio ratings that are established by Nielsen and Arbitron respectively. And since the media department does not have to rely on the rating information provided by the stations (which often skew ratings data in their favor) they can better negotiate airtime costs with radio and television outlets.

IMS is the largest provider of information systems for the advertising industry. This system allows ad agencies to access syndicated research data such as Scarborough, MRI and Monroe Mendelsohn and analyze the data through the many programs it offers such as crosstab. This aids media buyers/planners with negotiating tactics and strategic planning decisions. Scarborough is a local market study that provides product, demographic and media consumption information for the top 75 markets on a biannual basis. MRI provides projected product, magazine, television, newspaper and radio usage as well as demographics. Monroe Mendelsohn provides product, demographics and media habits of adults 18-years-of-age and older with incomes of $75,000 or higher. SQAD provides projected high, low and average cost per point estimates for both radio and television markets. SRDS provides lists and contact information for television and radio stations, newspapers and magazines.

All of these tools help ad agencies plan, negotiate and buy media more effectively and efficiently for their clients. Without these essential tools in house, in place and in use, time, ad spend and potential impressions (reach and frequency) are at risk of being ineffective, wasted or lost entirely.