Who would have thought it? With the introduction of Media Server, Austria has created an all-media study that is unique the world over. This study now facilitates strategic cross-media planning. There is virtually nothing comparable to date anywhere else in the world.
Who consumes what kind of media? When and where do they read newspapers and magazines, watch TV, listen to the radio or surf on the Internet? What trends are destined to transform media consumption in the near future? How can I compare usage data gathered via different means and hence in different currencies? Answers to these questions and more can be found in the Media Server study. For the first time ever, it provides Austria with an objective, valid basis for strategic cross-media planning that is accepted by all classic media genres and agencies. This ambitious market research project was initiated back in 2013 and published in two stages: In 2015, the Media Server Association published the Daily Usage Survey, which was complemented at the beginning of this year by the Intermedia File.
With the help of this comprehensive tool, media companies, the advertising industry and media agencies can now establish the optimal media mix for planned campaigns. This is made possible by the specially developed campaign modules compiled in surveys of individual media genres (Media-Analyse, Teletest, Radiotext, ÖWA Plus and Outdoor Server OSA) and transferred to Media Server. They mimic average real campaigns and thus facilitate planning for all target groups.
The unique backbone of the study
As underlined by the Media Server Association, this survey is a groundbreaking achievement. Up until now, there has been no comparable tool for strategic cross-media planning in Austria or anywhere else in the world. Although cross-media studies permitting a comparison of various different media genres throughout the day are available in other countries, they lack one key component, according to Walter Zinggl, president of the Media Server Association: “The important difference is that Media Server is based on a comprehensive single-source study.” Other institutions would simply rely upon existing studies and merge the findings. Moveover, the data they collect is often only based on surveys of around 2,000 people conducted at irregular intervals. As underlined by the Media Server Association, this survey is a groundbreaking achievement. Up until now, there has been no comparable tool for strategic cross-media planning in Austria or anywhere else in the world. Although cross-media studies permitting a comparison of various different media genres throughout the day are available in other countries, they lack one key component, according to Walter Zinggl, president of the Media Server Association: “The important difference is that Media Server is based on a comprehensive single-source study.” Other institutions would simply rely upon existing studies and merge the findings. Moveover, the data they collect is often only based on surveys of around 2,000 people conducted at irregular intervals.
The comprehensive baseline study that forms the backbone of Media Server involved asking detailed questions about consumers’ media usage over a period of 24 hours in the course of 15,000 interviews onducted among Austria’s population of just 8.5 million. The factors playing a role were found to include even the respondents’ sleeping and personal hygiene habits and the media they consumed while engaged in these activities. According to Zinggl, this makes the survey truly representative and unparalleled anywhere else in the world.For the foreseeable future, however, Zinggl doesn’t anticipate it serving as a model for countries aiming to produce something similar. Financial reasons alone make this unlikely, as the costs involved are huge even in a relatively small country like Austria; in a larger country such as Germany, they would be even higher. Moreover, you need to get all the major players round the table for a project of this kind. In Austria, it took almost two and a half years for this to happen. According to Zinggl, similar projects have been attempted in Germany but failed in the test phase.
International cross-media studies
The study most closely resembling Media Server is TouchPoints, which serves media companies, media agencies and the advertising industry in Great Britain and the USA as a tool for drawing cross-media comparisons. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) is involved in both countries: In the United Kingdom it carries overall responsibility for the project, while in the USA it acts as a partner for the Media Behavior Institute (MBI), which publishes the study there. Like Media Server, both TouchPoints studies were published in two stages: a baseline study and an intermedia file.
The baseline study conducted by TouchPoints in Great Britain provides an insight into the use of media such as television, radio, print and the Internet as well as individual communication patterns, including emailing and messaging. The various media currencies were subsequently integrated by means of the intermedia file. TouchPoints in the USA facilitates a comparison of the reach achieved by the various media genres over the course of the day by compiling a database including information about media usage, social demographics, consumer behaviour and more. As underlined by the MBI responsible, USA TouchPoints not only demonstrates media usage at any given time, but also shows how US consumers lead their daily lives.
For cross-media comparisons, Germany relies upon the Intermedia PluS study (“Planning, performance and strategy”) compiled by the Media-Analyse working group (agma). It gives equal weight to all relevant data and merges them in a joint file. This allows media exposure opportunities to be assessed for all genres, cross-media comparisons to be drawn, and campaigns to be complemented by further suitable measures. The study is based on data from media analyses and research into TV viewing. The database is constantly being expanded and optimised; in 2016, for example, online radio and mobile Internet offerings were included for the first time. In Switzerland, media genres and individual media can be compared and analysed by means of the planning and analysis tool MA Strategy. In addition to the traditional fields of radio, television, print, cinema, Out of Home and the Internet, this tool also takes a close look at genres such as address directories and direct mailing.
Second Media Server due in summer
The eagerly awaited Media Server has met with a highly enthusiastic response in many quarters. To cite an example, Elisabeth Plattensteiner, chairwoman of Forum Media Planung (FMP), which has provided ongoing support for all parties involved, welcomes the “very constructive and forward-looking approach” adopted by Media Server in a total of 15,000 interviews. She goes on to say that any study providing information about media usage is a positive thing and that the cross-market convention study had been thoroughly prepared well in advance — a “true tour de force on the part of all those involved, who have achieved the remarkable task of delivering a sustainable local study”.
Now Plattensteiner is looking forward to the second main Media Server study. Work on the study has already started and it is due to be launched this summer. It will include findings from the first main study; in addition, the campaign modules are to be expanded.
Questions were even asked about sleeping habits and personal hygiene.