Continuous Media Optimization

If you plan or buy media, you live and die by each campaign’s success. And there’s no greater measure of that success than return on ad spend. Understanding the most effective elements of precision marketing enables agencies and brands to leverage insights discovered from previous campaigns. NCS provides a unique set of product offerings to continuously optimize all phases of the buying and planning process, from targeting/audience segmentation to In-Flight optimization and retro-active campaign measurement.

Critical to continuous media optimization is the identification of customers who are most receptive to your advertising and message—those viewers who actually purchase the product as a result of viewing your advertising. Targeting this group with your next campaign will raise your return on ad spend.

NCS can provide these capabilities to help achieve the goals of both the agency and advertiser:

1) Target Evaluator

  • What: NCS will articulate the dollars potentially influenced by TV ads when you select programs based on buyers or sales volume of product.
  • Application: Allocating media dollars and subsequently reaching your target audience is priority number one. NCS can help you understand the value of various consumer buyer definitions, and target media based on purchase behavior and campaign goals (i.e. drive trial, conquest competition, retain loyals, etc).

2) AdVantics on Demand™

  • What: Choose the right program element without shrinking your GRPs to reach the most buyers or sales volume.
  • Application: Similar to Target Evaluator, AdVantics On Demand goes one level deeper in television. Instead of just finding buyers, TV planning is opened up by applying audience buying behavior to adjustable elements such as programs and dayparts, while maintaining your gross rating points. In turn, agencies can use the advertiser’s budget more efficiently.

3) Audience AdVantics Targeting

  • What: Integrating offline purchase data with 90%+ of the reachable ad impression via portals, publishers, ad networks, and programmatic technology partners.
  • Application: In the digital and mobile realm, it is imperative to identify the optimal channels to launch and measure your campaign. NCS provides agencies with 15+ channel partners that are powered with NCS data, including Yahoo!, AOL, Google and more.

4) In-Flight

  • What: Optimize creative, placement & delivery based on what drives the greatest incremental life throughout the campaign.
  • Application: If a campaign is not delivering or meeting impression/sales expectations after four weeks, it’s time to switch it up – in real time. In-Flight enables agencies to change multiple campaign elements to reach any specific campaign goal, uncovering insights to share with the advertiser’s brand.

5) Sales Effect

  • What: A precise and complete picture of incremental sales in response to your media campaign, broken down by buyer type, executional element and more.
  • Application: Traditionally measured by impressions, ultimate success at NCS can be translated into incremental retail sales dollars. Agencies can utilize figures that chart ROAS and CPMs across historical norms and benchmarks. Furthermore, they can apply lessons of the sales effect study to future campaigns to ensure success.

See how NCS drives results here.

Happy Birthday, Barcode

Boy scouts. Ninjas. The mafia. And you?

Yes, friend. Count yourself among their ranks, because you all live by a code – the bar code.

That’s right. For likely as long as you can remember, the purchases you’ve made have been painstakingly itemized and documented by those magical little elves of the retail world, better known as UPC bar codes. And today, we celebrate their 40th birthday. You brought a gift, right? Right?

It’s hard to imagine a world without UPCs, but it wasn’t until 1974 that the technology that made them possible manifested in the harmless sale of a pack of gum in Troy, Ohio. Back in those days, pretty much anything could be construed as a sign of the apocalypse, and bar codes certainly were. Thankfully, retailers persevered, and as a result we’ve all come to enjoy better inventory in stores, shorter checkout lines, and a slew of other advancements brought on by the granular insights afforded by UPCs.

So it’s the big 4-0 for our friend, the bar code. Over the hill, you think? Don’t say that to its face.

The UPC bar code is stronger than ever… strong enough that it could even be accused of juicing. But no way, pal. These guns are all natural, fed on a healthy diet of big data in the digital age. Technologies like Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) still utilize UPC nomenclature as the underlying model, and the most innovative retailers rely on bar codes to fuel their strategy to this day.

How is it that we’re still running our grocery stores and retailers on a 40-year-old innovation? Simply put, it’s still the most granular data available. At NCS we constantly extoll the virtues of UPC data, yet still find that some agencies and publishers are in the dark about its comparative value. Allow us to take you to school:

It’s not enough to have a ton of retail sales data – even if you happen to have the most, as Nielsen Catalina Solutions does. Your data loses value if it’s imprecise (or worse, misleading), which is why UPC bar codes are such a wonderful invention. Armed with that level of granularity, you can understand buyer behavior down to the flavor, size, packaging… You name it. This level of insight can often have a drastic impact on both your creative and your types of media buys. That’s the power of UPC data.

Want to know more? Get in touch.

Radio Advertising Drives Sales, Share, and Return – and now we can show it!

A major study conducted by Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS) used cutting-edge measurement tools to link radio advertising to retail sales for the first time, proving the effectiveness of radio – or “audio,” as it’s often called today – for driving sales to brick and mortar stores.

The study, “From Airways to Aisles:  Measuring Sales Impact with Single Source,” presented at the ARF RE:Think Conference in March, found that for every dollar spent on advertising, there was a sales return of $6 on average for those exposed to the ads in the prior 28-day period.

NCS arrived at these findings through the use of single-source methodology and frequent shopper data, measuring the sales impact for the specific media buys of eight CPG and two retail brands, each of which had different combinations of radio networks. This study was sponsored by Nielsen as part of an ongoing initiative to expand insight into the effectiveness of radio advertising.  This work provides an early foundation for radio ad norms in the industry.

Finding #1:  Radio works – though payback varies by category

On average, advertisers gained a $6 return for every ad dollar spent.  All categories displayed positive payback with retailers leading, showing over 11 and 23 times the return.

Finding #2: Recency matters

The study found that radio delivered a powerful sales lift when heard within a few days of purchase. A consumer exposed to an ad within a day of purchasing increased the brand share by 9%, while messages delivered 28 days prior to purchase only increased share by 3.4%.


Finding #3: Current GRP levels for most CPG radio campaigns are often too low to show.

  • For a snack brand, the radio campaign increased actual brand share by 32% and by 3.4 share points among consumers who saw the ad versus those who did not.
  • However, since only 9% of the audience was exposed, the total sales lift among all purchases, including for the 91% who were not exposed, is a weighted average of only 0.3 share points higher than the expected lift without advertising.



Finding #4:  African Americans and Hispanics show higher response to the ads

  • In addition to measuring across categories, NCS measured the response among African American and Hispanic households for the brands with large enough sample sizes. Overall, the radio campaigns proved to have a substantially stronger impact on sales among both of these demographics than the total population
  • For African Americans, the indexes range between about 150 – 240 and 140 – 185 for Hispanics. For example, the share point gain driven by radio for the soft drink category among African Americans was 7.7% or 92% higher than the 4.1% share gain among the total population, resulting in the 192 index shown below. Note that in the case of Hispanics, some of the schedules ran on Spanish-language stations, and some on general market stations.




How It Works

Portable People Meters (PPM) from Nielsen Audio uses portable devices that detect inaudible codes embedded in the audio portion of a broadcast program or commercial. The PPM tracks which stations are heard and when. That listener information is then linked to 60 million households of purchaser information in a single-source view to determine how the radio ads influence sales of products that were purchased in the listeners’ households. All matches are performed in a privacy-compliant, non-personally identified manner.

About Nielsen Catalina Solutions

Nielsen Catalina Solutions provides the most comprehensive single-source view of advertising to help consumer package goods marketers, agencies and media companies measure and improve advertising performance by precisely linking what consumers watch and what they buy.

The joint venture between Nielsen and Catalina integrates “watch” information from industry-leading Nielsen People Meter (NPM) Portable People Meter (PPM) and Nielsen Online, cable set-top-box data, and multi-media viewing data from NCS’ channel partners.  The “watch” data is matched with the “buy” data from Nielsen Homescan® and nearly 60 million shopper households from Catalina. This single-source view provides the retail sales impact of TV, online, mobile, CRM, radio and print advertising.

NCS Stories at the 2014 ARF Re:Think Conference in New York City

This week in New York City, ARF’s 2014 RE:Think conference brought together leaders of the advertising research industry to “Inspire Intelligent Growth” and help the ad industry make smarter, faster, better business decisions.

Among the speakers was NCS Chief Research Officer Leslie Wood, who shared the exciting results of the first major study using single-source methodologies to link radio advertising and sales.  Titled “From Airwaves to Aisles: Measuring Sales Impact with Single Source,” Wood presented the talk to a standing-room only crowd at the Nielsen Platinum Learning session.

NCS was also highlighted in a CBS presentation titled “The New Lifestyle and Psychographic Dimensions of Today’s Dynamic U.S. Media Consumer,” featuring tips for activating against The Demand Landscape and other updates.  In a presentation by The Cambridge Group, Eddie Yoon elaborated on the value of “Super Consumers” and how to activate them.

Here are a few noteworthy Ad Age articles covering other key insights putting NCS in the light at the conference:

Measure Your Radio Campaigns

With the large scale of offline purchase data available to CPG brands to measure media campaigns, radio advertising need no longer be seen as a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ portion of the media plan.  Leveraging NCS’ best-in-class single-source CPG data set, brands can now more clearly understand the effectiveness of their radio advertising, producing insights that would have been thought impossible less than a decade ago.

Measuring radio campaigns with NCS allows brand marketers to understand key insights about the real, in-store sales their campaign has driven, including:

  • Response by demographic

  • Sales driven by day-part

  • Which radio format or genre yielded greatest results

  • Which element of the sales calculation drove the most results (increased penetration, trips, or basket size)

Armed with a deep understanding of what elements of your campaign worked (or didn’t work), you will be in a great position to leverage these insights on your next radio buy.