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AT&T AdWorks Hunts Down Multiscreen Viewers

It’s a burning question on many marketers’ minds: What effect do ads have across TV, online and mobile devices?

Measuring multiscreen viewing has proven a tough nut to crack, given the complexity of tracking consumers’ behavior as they switch among different services and devices. Nielsen, the incumbent provider in the TV ratings market, has been working toward delivering such metrics for the last several years but currently does not provide a consolidated view of cross-platform ad reach.

Now AT&T is trying to make the case to Madison Avenue that it’s uniquely positioned — as a major provider of TV, Internet and mobile services — to deliver a deep dive into actual cross-platform usage to help advertisers optimize their media buying.

The telco’s New York-based AT&T AdWorks division has teamed up with Internet audience measurement firm comScore on a new multiscreen research initiative. The duo is in the midst of assembling a demographically representative panel of 25,000 consumers to measure media consumption across TV, online and mobile.

“This research will provide advertisers the best method to gauge audience behavior and media consumption across three screens so they can make more informed decisions to maximize their return on investment,” Greg McCastle, senior vice president and head of AT&T AdWorks, said.

So far, AT&T and comScore are about halfway toward their goal of signing up the 25,000 opt-in panel members, according to AT&T AdWorks vice president of marketing and media innovation Maria Mandel Dunsche. The project, which has been in the works for more than a year, draws from comScore’s Internet panel of more than 1 million U.S. households as well as more than 850,000 households with AT&T broadband, TV and wireless service.

“It’s the first behavior-based, three-screen research panel,” Mandel Dunsche said.

Ford Motor Co. has signed on as one of four “seed” advertising partners for the multiscreen research project, along with a major retailer, a consumer packaged goods company and a financial services firm. AT&T AdWorks plans to sign up eight marketers to participate in the initial pilot.

The goal: to provide specific information on cross-platform campaign effectiveness. AT&T AdWorks and comScore also will have the ability to field ad-hoc surveys to the multiscreen panel for additional insights, Mandel Dunsche said, “although you want to use that sparingly to keep panel attrition to a minimum.”

Eventually, comScore expects to sell the multiscreen research, but the company did not indicate when that might become available.

The research project will be featured at the AT&T AdWorks Lab, which opened in December in the division’s midtown Manhattan offices. The 2,000-square-foot lab is outfitted with several large-screen displays and interactive demos designed to show off the breadth of the telco’s advertising capabilities, spanning data visualization, TV commerce, interactive TV spots and custom audience targeting.

“The lab is to build out our story and demonstrate our offerings,” Mandel Dunsche said. “We’re showing what’s possible — what you can do with this data.”

The AT&T/comScore multiscreen panel will compile data including:

AT&T U-verse TV data: Channel/network ID, channel to brand name lookup, tune in/out time, total time watched, designated market area.
ComScore Internet and mobile data: Demographics, online and mobile ad exposure, online and mobile website visits, online video consumption, search activity, online purchasing.
AT&T mobile data: Website visits, ads, tune in/out time, total time used.

SOURCE: Company reports