Market research across the entire media mix: How customers want to test advertising impact

Finally, media planning across the entire media mix is possible. Link has developed a new method for measuring and linking contact data from online, TV and OOH media. Mediaplus used it to test a campaign for its client CSS Versicherung. All that's missing now is a lot of beacons.


Anyone who spends money on advertising wants to know whether, where and with whom it has an impact. Numerous calculation models survey the advertising impact online and on television; the impact of billboards and screens, so-called out-of-home media (OOH), has hardly been measurable until now. The Link Institute has now developed a method that not only measures the advertising impact of OOH, but also combines and compares it with data from other channels. This enables advertisers to plan and strategically control campaigns across advertising channels.

And it works like this: For contact measurement of OOH media, billboards were equipped with Bluetooth transmitters called beacons. Study participants had to download the "Link Move" app onto their smartphones before the start of the study. This app records the Bluetooth signals of the beacons as soon as a study participant is in the vicinity of a billboard and stores the time, entry and exit from the signal radius. The app also records the GPS coordinates. Upon contact with a beacon, the app can also alert participants to an open survey.

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Following the contact measurements with the beacons, the panel participants were asked about the campaign impact with a questionnaire. This allowed the advertising impact to be studied. The online data was collected for the study with cookie tracking, the TV data by questioning the contact probabilities. The study ran from the end of August to mid-October 2016 in the greater Bern area. For the analysis, 412 people from the link panel were taken into account.

"The measured values obtained confirm many calculation models and assumptions that are already used in media planning today, but validate them and make them more accurate," explains Christian- Kumar Meier, Managing Director of Media- plus. Contact measurements with beacons make statements about OOH possible that previously existed only for online and TV, such as the distribution of contacts over the course of the day or week, geographic clustering, or the proportion of recurring contacts.

The new technology ensures strategic and cost-effective campaign planning across all advertising channels - what doesn't work or misses the target audience can be rescheduled to other channels or cancelled.

First study successful

Mediaplus has already successfully tested the new cross-media analysis in a pilot project, namely on the campaign shown opposite, which Contexta developed for the joint client CSS Versicherung. Reach, perception and advertising impact of posters and screens of the CSS campaign were directly compared with the corresponding values of the online and TV measures. In this way, CSS was able to evaluate across channels how media contacts overlapped and what additional reach could be gained through the use of additional media (incremental reach).

The analysis provided important insights into the advertising impact of the campaign: For example, the data collected shows that awareness and image of the advertiser as well as the consumer's purchase intention are significantly dependent on the frequency of contact with the out-of-home media. "The fact that we were able to measure the contacts of a campaign across all media for the first time is a milestone for us," says Christian-Kumar Meier. "Our measurement confirms the important role of out-of-home advertising in the media mix."

The pilot study is also a success for CSS Versicherung: "We attach great importance to planning our campaigns prudently and analyzing the impact as best as possible," emphasizes Reto Schertenleib, Head of Marketing Communication at CSS Versicherung. "We are pleased to be able to contribute to driving the future of media planning."

Beacons still missing

The technology works. What is still missing is the nationwide equipment of billboard sites with beacons. "Our wish for the billboard providers is that they set up a beacon infrastructure across the board, at least for premium sites," says Christian-Kumar Meier. Already today, many providers have equipped their billboard sites with beacons to make them "back-channel capable," as Meier explains. This infrastructure could also be used for advertising impact measurements.

According to Christian-Kumar Meier, equipping the poster sites with beacons is not expensive: "A beacon costs around 15 to 20 francs, depending on the quantity ordered," says Meier. "I can't name the equipment costs, but if we assume that equipment would take place as part of the usual maintenance work, the costs are certainly low." Measured against the new insights that Link's new process brings, for example, the investment is worthwhile anyway.

New options for research and tracking

The method developed by Link is a panel-based approach, which means that study participants must be recruited for each measurement. Since the billboard beacons correspond with the Link Move app, people who are not aware of the survey cannot be tracked.

However, Link can draw on over 100,000 study participants for general surveys, and a nationwide panel would need to include about 1,000 study participants using the Link Move app. The required panel size depends on the research question and the utilization of the panel.

Starting next year, Link will operate a national Link Move panel with at least 1,000 people and will continuously expand it. "This panel can be used not only for billboard research, but covers the entire spectrum of out-of-home measurement," says Beat Fischer, Business Development Manager Digital at Link. "This includes mobility research, GPS tracking, but also frequency measurements or footpath tracking in shopping centers or other locations."

The spectrum opened up to advertising clients by the new method is wide. Until now, there has been no comparable measurement of advertising impact, not even outside Switzerland. (afh)

Results of the cross-media study

Core results at a glance:

  • The cross-media comparison can be used to determine overlaps between poster, screen, online and TV.
  • The contact distribution of the campaign during the course of the day can now also be determined for poster and screen.
  • The additional generated reach (Incremental Reach) of the respective media can be determined.
  • Comparability between media can be improved.
  • Segments not reached can be determined.

Reach/mix contacts

First cross-media reach measurement of the CSS campaign, target group 15-79 years.


Campaign presence during the day

Contacts in the course of the day of the cross-media CSS campaign, target group 15-79 years old


About the methodology

The technology of the Link Move pilot project consists of two components that work together: the Bluetooth beacons and the "Link Move" smartphone app. The beacons are uniquely identifiable and can be placed in various locations.

The "Link Move" app registers the Bluetooth signal of the beacons and records the time, entry and exit from the signal radius. In the event of contact with a beacon, the app can alert participants to an open survey. Link Move" also records the GPS coordinates and can use geofencing to register whether someone has been at a particular location.

The Bluetooth signals of the beacons were recorded by the app as soon as the study participants were in the vicinity of a beacon. Following the contact measurements with the beacons, the panel participants were asked a questionnaire about the campaign impact. This made it possible to investigate the advertising impact.

The Link Institute study involved Mediaplus and its client CSS, as well as the leading poster providers. The study objective was to measure the cross-media contacts and the advertising impact of a campaign involving posters, screens, online, and TV. The cross-media analysis of the selected CSS campaign ran from the end of August to mid-October 2016 in the greater Bern area. 546 people from the Link panel took part in the study. They loaded the "Link Move" app onto their smartphones. For the cross-media analysis, 412 people were considered. Participants were recruited from the Link Internet Panel. There are 130,000 people in the panel (CH) , all recruited by telephone.

Key features of the research approach:

- Single-source approach in the Link Internet Panel

- Measurements of contacts with outdoor advertising via beacons and the Link-Move app

- A total of around 40,000 contacts with the out-of-home media were measured over the course of the study.

- Measurements of contacts with the online campaign via cookies

- Contacts with TV campaign was determined via surveyed contact probability

- Online impact survey immediately after the runtime of the CSS campaign.

- Number of interviews: n=412

In addition to advertising research, many other fields of application are also possible, such as location-based surveys via smartphone, mobility research of all kinds, frequency counts, traffic generation in stores through campaigns, or determining walking routes in supermarkets.

The Link team around Beat Fischer is pleased to announce that on March 17, 2017, "Link Move" was awarded the European Research Prize for General Online Research (GOR) by the German Society for Online Research (DGOF). (DGOF) was awarded. The "GOR Best Practice Award" recognized the pioneering market research approach.

Further information:

Further information on the study as well as an explanatory film on the research approach can be found at the following Microsite.

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