January 28, 2007

Outdoor advertising will never be looked at the same way again by advertisers and agencies with the development of a new integrated audience measurement system, the first of its kind able to report real commercial data on the number of people likely to see a given ad. The new system, being implemented in phases by the Traffic Audit Bureau for Media Measurement (TAB), will provide comprehensive measures of both pedestrian and vehicular audiences with a complete rollout scheduled by third quarter 2008.

Despite being the oldest form of media, outdoor is changing with the times and is one of only two media (the other being the Internet) currently exhibiting growth at a time when questions are being raised about the measurement of audience delivery in other media. Until now, researchers have been limited to reporting on a person's opportunity to see a certain ad, but this new approach employs visibility, or "eyes on," tracking to give advertisers a much more accurate assessment of how many people are likely to see their message, be it driving by a giant billboard or walking past a transit shelter. The system will also report on audience demographics for outdoor advertising in over 200 markets.

"This is a change we have actively been working on for some time," said TAB President & CEO Joe Philport. "We sprang into action amidst concerns that existing outdoor measurement methods needed to be upgraded in order to keep pace with the demand for greater accountability. We are surpassing all other media by taking the lead in bringing outdoor into the 21st century with a comprehensive system that provides a solid foundation for future measurement."

As part of the first phase of the program, now under way, the TAB has contracted with MediaMark Research Inc. (MRI) to initiate 4,200 detailed travel surveys in five markets -- Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas and San Francisco -- using face-to-face computer-assisted personal interviews (CAPI). MRI will also conduct nearly 50,000 surveys to collect information about general travel patterns in a total of 15 markets. These high-quality techniques will be used to gather comprehensive trip information, including routes taken, mode of transportation and purpose of each trip. Additionally, this study will incorporate a viable approach to measurement of pedestrian audiences.

The TAB already collects traffic count data for nearly 500,000 units of outdoor inventory around the country and is in the process of conducting extensive eye-tracking research on the attention given to outdoor advertising. Philport continued, "All of this information will be brought together, providing an integrated approach that shows outdoor can, indeed, be quantified by providing highly accurate, meaningful numbers."

Following a competitive RFP process that included proposals from several leading research companies from around the world, MRI, Telmar and Transearch were among those selected to work with the TAB on this project.

MRI will design and execute the travel surveys, while GfK Custom Research North America has been chosen to conduct the "eyes on" research, Telmar will provide modeling and analytic expertise and Transearch will be responsible for conducting the pedestrian component of the study.


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