ESPN Launches Unprecedented Cross-Media Research Initiative: ESPN XP

ESPN XP

Today at the ARF’s Re:think 2010 conference, ESPN Research+Analytics revealed plans for ESPN XP, a research initiative unprecedented in its scope, to study consumer behavior around major sporting events beginning with the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.  Using one of the largest collections of research companies ever assembled plus a top-tier business school, ESPN XP will attempt to measure media usage and advertiser effects for the World Cup across all media platforms – 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 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).  Additional members of the collective will be announced at a later date.

ESPN XP is unique because it represents the first time a media company has attempted to measure all media platforms around a single event, including both media usage and advertiser effects.  It is different from previous work on cross-media audiences because it is an ongoing initiative — measuring the World Cup is only the first project in a series of quarterly projects to fall under the ESPN XP umbrella.  ESPN will take the best of what is learned from the World Cup and apply it to football in the fall and other sports during 2011.   The goal is to create a scalable research plan to measure cross-media audiences 12 months out of the year by 2012.

ESPN XP will provide a vehicle to introduce new techniques and innovative methodologies.  A rundown of the unique contributions from ESPN XP member companies follows.

  • 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.”

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