Sprout vp, mktg & research Jim Multari has been exploring how to measure and position the network through the use of custom research. Here Jim talks about behavioral targeting and the benefit of listening to your audience – particularly when they are preschoolers.
The importance of behavioral targeting is a big subject of debate today. What do you think about it?
I think that it is very important to our business, and particularly given the three platforms that we use to deliver our brand. It is important to understand how and why our audiences are using each one. Also, knowing who they are and how they respond is key.
For example, it’s interesting to think about video on demand service that is hugely popular in the kids space. Often it has a very different function or role in a pre-school household than a linear service or a website. So you really have to understand how those [platforms] are being used and considered when thinking about program strategy…, so that it is being offered in a way that people understand. You have to look at things from all angles, and targeting is one way of doing that.
What about DVR use in Sprout homes versus other homes? What are the differences?
JM: Time shifting is a huge deal now and we are lucky in that we know that time shifting among kids is a lot less than with other networks. Kids and news appear to be the least time-shifted cable channels.
So it is a challenge and a blessing. It is a challenge in that, if you that to an advertiser or an agency, they ask how we know that someone is engaged with the brand or is it just on in the background. We’ve been able to use a lot of our custom research tools to counter balance that. But time shifting is certainly something that is on our radar.
How do you best target pre-schoolers?
JM: While we target parents, pre-schoolers are our primary audience. We are doing a lot of research to try to understand that audience segment: what pre-schoolers like, dislike and what they are ‘into.’
We have partnered with daycare centers and pre-schools in Philadelphia, where we are based, to inform our programming strategy and to inform our strategy as a whole. I think it is very interesting that, when you sit down with a three or a four year old, they can offer you a great amount of information that helps guide strategy.
One story that comes to mind — we did some testing to understand our video on demand product, and we’ve seen kids who are three or four showing their parents how to access content. They are not able to read, but they know the placement on the screen. I saw kids actually find what they were looking for, even though they did not know how to read what was available. That speaks to the real need of understanding your entire audience.
For a more in-depth interview, go to WeislerMedia. In it, Jim covers more on Sprout’s strategy, the future of measurement and cross-platform content, and changes in research since he began as a data analyst.
(Interview conducted by Charlene Weisler, a research veteran, member of the Set Top Box Collaborative executive committee, the CTAM Research and Research Planning Committees and a CIMM consultant. She can be reached through her blog www.WeislerMedia.blogspot.com or at WeislerMedia@yahoo.com)                                                    

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