Heads, hearts and hands: Nielsen launches latest iteration of CMI

Around two years ago, Nielsen, along with the three stakeholder groups in the Print Media Industry Research Review Group—magazines, newspapers and media agencies—were talking up the ‘Rolls Royce of measurement systems‘. International guest Gary Yeo was too, saying its Consumer & Media Insights system was one of the best in the world. And now Nielsen has added a few new bells and whistles to give advertisers and media owners, as its tagline terms it, “an uncommon sense of the consumer”. 

  • Check out the presentation about the changes here.

Kate Terry, Nielsen’s client services director, says the basic strategy with the evolving CMI is to make sure it’s continuing to better reflect market demand for insights into consumer behaviour and media usage. It’s a mix of the rational with the emotional, where reach and frequency offered by the core survey can be combined with new layers of understanding, often by fusing different data sets.  

She says CMI aims to provide the “best possible 360 degree view of the consumer”, and it’s doing that by adding new nodes like new model media engagement, which gives clients, media owners and agencies greater clarity around the roles each media plays in different people’s lives (and even the roles they play at different times of the day), how they can complement each other and where they fit on the purchase cycle. 

The various strengths of different media are still plotted, but, rather than statements like ‘it helps me form opinions’, it is now based around nine simplified ‘dimensions’, such as educates, entertains or absorbs that are formed from 24 more detailed engagement questions. 

Newspapers and magazines are the only ones to feature what Terry calls a “deep dive” (radio, connected devices and ‘other media’ are slated for a more detailed look in the future). Through its engagement questions, Nielsen is able to detail broad data like ‘magazines rank top for all New Zealanders 15+ in terms of pleasure and anticipation’ or ‘newspapers rank top for all New Zealanders 15+ for credibility and forming opinions’. And, by fusing this with other data, it can also drill down into specific demographics and find media preferences for those intending to spend $30,000 on a car, those intending to renovate their bathroom in the next 12 months, or even those who drink three cups of coffee a day. 

In the presentation, MPA chair John Baker said: “Magazines are unique in the way they engage with consumers’ hearts, minds and spending. Through Nielsen’s innovative engagement model we can now quantify the enduring power of magazines to drive inspiration through to activation. Its influence and connection go well beyond the page and should prove invaluable for advertisers.” 

And Newsworks Jenny Stiles said: “Newspapers are some of the most powerful and trusted brands in the country giving reassurance and credibility to readers and advertisers alike and allowing for natural brand extension into digital platforms. Nielsen’s Media Engagement module has provided a multi-dimensional measure confirming the strength of connection each medium has with consumers.” 

When Nielsen launched the engagement piece, Terry says it was very well received by all parties. And these upgrades are about heeding calls, largely from media agencies, to add more depth to that model. Disappointingly, however, only a couple of senior media agency folk bothered to show up to last week’s presentation, which isn’t thought to have gone down too well with those who had put the effort into creating it.

Terry says this wasn’t really an issue and the team of account managers will be taking the new model media engagement system to media agencies and offering one-on-one instruction and other training sessions on how to use it effectively.  

She says CMI is still seen as a leading light in the Asia Pacific region and, in addition to the new model media engagement, its CMI Plus range aims to offer even greater insights. For example, CMI Shopper, which combines CMI and Homescan data and brings “real purchase behaviour and media usage together”, is coming soon to New Zealand (this combination of data does bear some resemblance to Bauer’s recent ROI experiment with Chelsea Sugar). 

The Homescan panel takes all of the groceries bought and scans them. So Terry says it means that products from the supermarket that would too hard to ask consumers about in a survey are able to be zeroed in on. And this means advertisers can allocate resource to appropriate media and publishers can respond to briefs with more accuracy. 

“For a major FMCG brand, what it will give is a way to look at buyers of that brand and understand their whole media usage,” she says. 

Another service is CMI plus Finance, which brings in third party financial data and matches it with media insights. As an example, Terry says this would allow media owners and advertisers to see how many readers of a magazine might be in the market for a personal loan or a mortgage. And CMI plus Sport and CMI Plus Technology are also on the horizon. 

There is an amazing amount of data available through this system. But, as Malcom Gladwell pointed out in an essay in 2007, there is a difference between mysteries and puzzles. And it’s relevant to this industry. “Mysteries require judgments and the assessment of uncertainty, and the hard part is not that we have too little information but that we have too much.”

And with many media agencies already stretched, some have wondered who exactly will be taking the time to make those judgements. 

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