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ESPN’s Bulgrin Searches for ‘Holy Grail’

New York -- ESPN’s chief of research Tuesday called accurate research about consumer cross-media usage “the Holy Grail.”

Artie Bulgrin, ESPN’s senior vice president of research and sales development, suggested that there needs to be a collaboration and investment in producing accurate research integrating data on how people use TV, print, radio, the Internet and portable media devices.

Really understanding consumer “true behavior across media” and “the effects of cross-media interaction” are “the Holy Grail,” Bulgrin said during a panel at the Advertising Research Foundation’s conference on Audience Measurement 2.0 here.

“This is not an easy task,” Bulgrin said. “We have more bad research than we do good research … It’s a whole lot of guess work.”

This issue is top of mind with ESPN, which has its brand represented on a wide variety of platforms, from TV to radio to the Web to magazines.

Bulgrin was a panelist during a session on “Consumer 2.0: Profile of the Digitized Consumer,” or how people are using digital media. The panel was part of the first day of ARF’s two-day confab, which has attracted more than 450 attendees from 18 countries.

Using the power of its brand, ESPN has been able to “navigate” consumers from platform to platform “and keep them within the brand fold,” Bulgrin said.

The topic of integrating data, or “measurement currency,” from different media came up during another session Tuesday during a presentation by Jim Collins, senior VP of research for Mediamark Research.

Also during that afternoon session, Shari Ann Brill, senior VP and director of programming at Carat USA, and Mike Bloxam, director of insight and research for the Center for Media Designs at Ball State, presented a report on a pilot project funded with $5 million from Nielsen Media Research as an initiative of its Council for Research Excellence.

As part of that study, Ball State sent its researchers to trail and record the media usage, at 10-second intervals, of 50 test participants in Indianapolis. Preliminary findings were that only 4% of video viewing takes place on computers and 11% of video viewing is out of home.