SPOTLIGHT ON: EUROPEAN MEDIA AND MARKETING SURVEY: How valid a picture does the EMS give of pan-Euro media? - Is the data provided by the latest survey encouraging? Alasdair Reid investigates

You can always spot a medium that is still in its adolescence. Credible research is usually pretty thin on the ground and, when some common currency numbers eventually come along, they tend to be used as an excuse for some very unimpressive posturing.

You can always spot a medium that is still in its adolescence.

Credible research is usually pretty thin on the ground and, when some

common currency numbers eventually come along, they tend to be used as

an excuse for some very unimpressive posturing.



The publication last week of the European Media and Marketing Survey -

better known as the EMS - was a good case in point. Just about every

pan-European satellite channel produced its own spin on the results.

And, in each case, the spin was the same - everyone, miraculously,

managed to prove that they led the field.



Or, rather, their own field - usually a field of one. Even the most

obscure channels managed some nifty manipulation to define categories in

which they could be seen to excel. But who cares, as long as everyone

managed to get a result?



The answer to that depends on how optimistic you are about the future of

pan-European TV. The medium has been in its adolescence for about a

decade and, despite the arrival of big players like NBC and the launch

of more channels, it is having trouble growing up. Agencies estimate the

whole market takes a puny advertising revenue of around dollars 200

million - not much more than five years ago.



Will the EMS help the medium as a whole? The survey isn’t just about

pan-European TV. It’s a broad survey of the media consumption habits of

upscale consumers - the top 20 per cent of households by income in all

the major markets. Publishers will find much to argue about in the

figures, but no-one doubts that international magazines and newspapers

reach Europe’s elite. Satellite TV still needs to prove itself and EMS

is its only common currency. Does it make encouraging reading?



Peter Bullard, the director of CNBC, believes it does. He points out

that this year’s survey is the first in which meaningful year-on-year

performance comparisons can be made. Although some disappointing details

emerge - the weekly reach of some channels appears to have fallen - the

overall picture is reassuring.



’It is not a fine resolution instrument. It has its limitations - but it

does give a picture of how we do, not just channel against channel but

also in comparison with other media. It underlines what the more

optimistic among us have been saying for years and it will increase

overall confidence in the pan-European TV market. It proves our value in

the media mix and gives a degree of accountability to advertisers.’



According to Jean Molly, an international researcher at Motive

Communications, although EMS is vastly superior to the previous Petar

research initiative, it must be treated with caution. ’It’s a step in

the right direction but the big question is how they are going to

develop international TV research in the future. Ideally we’d all like

ratings data,’ she says.



That’s the heart of the matter. EMS may be a common currency but it

isn’t a trading currency.



After all, it’s a phone survey - a million miles away from the the meter

panel systems that provide the currency for terrestrial TV trading.

Moves are under way to produce an EMS offshoot focusing entirely on TV

but, whatever method is chosen, it won’t provide a definitive ratings

currency.



Liz Workman, the regional media director of Leo Burnett, believes

pan-European satellite TV can do better. She says: ’I’m not knocking the

EMS.



If used intelligently, it can augment what you are able to pull together

from other sources. The market hasn’t moved on an awful lot but we have

to accept that there isn’t a currency as there is in national

terrestrial TV. That said, I would question whether the medium couldn’t

get better value for the money it currently spends on research.’



EMS DATA: YEAR-ON-YEAR COMPARISON

                                Total 1995    Total 1996

Population (x 1,000)                 40215         39847

Average readership

DAILIES

Financial Times                        2.4           2.2

The Times                              2.9           2.9

International Herald Tribune           0.5           0.5

Wall St Journal Europe                 0.4           0.4

USA Today                              0.2           0.2

WEEKLIES

Business Week                          0.9           0.9

L’Express                              3.4           3.3

Le Pont                                2.3           2.4

Newsweek                               2.0           1.8

Paris Match                            3.7           3.6

The Economist                          2.1           2.0

The European                           0.8           0.7

Sunday Times                           5.3           5.3

Time                                   3.3           3.1

FORTNIGHTLIES

Fortune                                0.6           0.6

MONTHLIES

Euromoney                              1.0           1.0

Institutional Investor                 0.6           0.6

National Geographic                    8.7           8.8

Scientific American                    2.6           2.8

Reader’s Digest                       13.6          13.5

Cosmopolitan                           9.7           9.5

                                Total 1995    Total 1996

Population (x 1,000)                 40215         39847

Average readership

Elle                                   6.9           7.1

Marie Claire                           9.0           8.6

Vogue                                  6.6           6.6

BI-MONTHLIES

Harvard Business Review                1.6           1.5

IN-FLIGHT

High Life (BA)                         3.0           2.8

Lufthansa Bordbuch                     3.9           4.0

TV

Average weekly viewing

BBC Prime                              1.6           1.5

BBC World                              1.7           2.2

CNBC                                   -             1.0

CNN International                     17.0          15.4

Deutsche Welle                         1.7           1.8

Discovery                              6.0           6.9

Euronews                              12.3          11.3

EBN                                    1.0           1.1

Eurosport                             31.3          32.8

MTV Europe                            14.7          12.2

NBC                                    6.0           5.0

Sky News                               3.6           4.3

Travel Channel                         2.0           1.9

TNT                                    4.9           5.1

TV5                                    7.3           5.8

Source: EMS