October 14, 2008

Washington Post

Cellphones Will Measure Consumers Exposure To Ad Campaigns Across Platforms

Integrated Media Measurement, a San Mateo, Calif.-based company is working on an emerging technology, which uses a consumer's cellphone to spy on their exposure to ads by listening in on the audio from TV, radio, Internet and mobile phone advertisements, reports the WSJ. The company is appealing to marketers' desire to be able to track how effective an ad campaign is, especially across platforms, like TV, Internet, Radio and others. Other companies are attempting to do the same thing. For instance, Nielsen recently bought Telephia to start tracking consumers on mobile phones and comScore ( NSDQ: SCOR) has bought M:Metrics.

But IMM's approach to the market is slightly different. The company measures a consumer's exposure to media by using the cellphone to monitor a person's daily life. To do so, they install software on the cellphones of 4,900 panelists, which then 'listens' for audio from an ad or a TV show. It then converts the audio into a digital code that is uploaded to the IMMI database, which matches it with codes for media content such as TV shows, commercials, movies and songs. Any conversations in the background are filtered out because it doesn't match with anything in the database.By using the cellphone, some pretty amazing things can be figured out, such as whether a panel member, who watches a movie trailer, ends up going to see the movie.

The company thinks it can expand to include shampoo or toothpaste, and is currently testing the technology with a national grocery store chain. So far, IMM's customers lists includes ABC and NBC, which has used it to track how people watch shows like 'Heroes,' the Olympic Games, and 'Saturday Night Live.'