High tech single source panels for media research

Date of publication: June 15, 1990

Author: James P. King


'High-tech' Single Source, or electronic panels, are now a factor in both North America and Europe. Currently, however, these panels are restricted to monitoring certain behaviour - most typically television viewing and purchase of bar-coded products. It is argued that electronic panels also have a role to play in other issues central to marketing and advertising planning: - multi-media exposure - consumer usage (not just purchase) - purchase/usage of non-bar coded products - measurement of services - consumer attitudes Addressing these issues is achievable by virtue of the ability to interact with the panelist very quickly through technology, and the recognition that about half of our current information comes from questionning, as opposed to monitoring, consumers. Quite simply, we should recognize that consumers can be questioned in addition to, or instead of, being monitored. The paper considers experiences and findings from "Viewtel" - an electronic panel system which uses the household television set both as an electronic diary and as an ad hoc survey questionnaire. Viewtel panels have been in operation in Toronto, Canada and Chicago, U.S.A., for well over a year. In both panels, the primary focus has been on the collection of Purchase/usage data. However, both panels have attempted to gather information on media. The need for, and nature of, this information is discussed, together with a case history.

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