Media: A Moment with Marquis

The IPA's long-awaited Touchpoints survey got off to a promising start last week with a well-attended launch.

Touchpoints will be supported in the industry for a number of reasons.

Sensibly, the IPA has made sure that plenty of different organisations have a vested interest in its success: media owners as well as agencies, creative as well as media. It also has the backing of the World Federation of Advertisers.

Touchpoints will be able to plug into existing media research sources (Barb, National Readership Survey, Postar) creating a world-first network of integrated media research.

And Touchpoints will succeed because it is good. The "hub" survey (based on 5,010 respondents with self-completion questionnaires and PDA diaries) has many riches to plunder and adds new insight into people's media behaviour.

But the aspect of Touchpoints that is likely to make the most significant impact on the way advertising is planned is its focus on the dimension of time. Touchpoints tells us, for example, when during the day or week people shop, relax, multitask, gather information, even what sort of mood they are in. Add to this their media usage and brands will have clear opportunities for "owning" particular times of day and occasions. My hunch is that this will spawn new and different sorts of media plan and perhaps even new and different sorts of creative treatment based around points in time.

One wonders why there hasn't been more of this (apart from the absence of Touchpoints). It may be that concentration into specific time slots tends to restrict campaign coverage - though who cares, if it is more effective? Maybe it's because it can be more expensive in cost-per-thousand terms, though again, does this matter if it works better?

Touchpoints has been spoken of as something of a Holy Grail in media planning. Seasoned practitioners are rightly suspicious of anything claiming to solve all the mysteries of the known world and we must be careful not to burden Touchpoints with too great expectations. Nevertheless, it should be warmly received. It set the bar high but, in spite of some technical hitches along the way, seems to have vaulted it. It is now up to the media planning fraternity to use it with dash and inventiveness and advertisers to open their minds to its possibilities.

I'm optimistic. Two years from now, our industry award-winners will be crediting Touchpoints in their acceptance speeches.

How people really use media, page 26.

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