Susan has over 20 years of media leadership working with some of the most iconic Alberta brands. When she's not planning integrated media campaigns, you'll find her on the golf course, or in the back yard with hubby Chris tooling around in their Bronco.

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Tools of The Trade: Media Research Tools and Tips

All good media strategies and executions are grounded by statistically sound research. At Vovia, we subscribe to a number of tools that aid us through the planning and executing processes of offline media.  Of course, as with all research, it isn’t just looking at the numbers that makes the difference. It is drawing conclusions from them and having the numbers aid in strategic decision making. The tools noted below allow the Vovia Media Team to develop efficient and effective plans for our clients and to execute them strategically. Today, we’ll look at how data is gathered by two different processes and then cover a few tools that helps us buy.


The following provides a snapshot of a few of our key media research tools and how they work. It is important to note that these tools and methods are continually evolving, so do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or data requests on anything you do not see below.

Broadcast Research

Our broadcast research is supplied by Numeris and used in all our tools; RTS, Radius Lens, and COMMB Navigator. Through data tracking and measurement technologies, each system gathers data on audience behaviours. This data in turn provides insights into consumer behaviour. Data is gathered in two ways; panel meters in major markets and diary surveys in smaller markets. Since the logistics are similar, let’s go into a bit more detail on the panel meter process:

Panel Meters

  • Panel meters are used in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal for English and French speakers.
  • 50,000 randomly selected homes (across Canada) with landline or cell phones are contacted for inclusion in a monthly telephone survey dubbed the Establishment survey. The survey asks questions related to the make up of the selected household. Candidates are randomly selected from the survey to take part in the Electronic Meter Panel.
  • Recruited households receive a Personal People Meter (PPM) for each household member. Each household is also assigned a Numeris employee who is available to answer questions, update household information and to encourage each household member to carry the PPM each day.
  • The PPM is carried by each household member (aged two years or older). It automatically records, and time stamps inaudible codes that are embedded in the audio feeds of television and radio signals.
  • After the data validity is checked, radio and TV database files are produced and provided to the third-party software providers for use by subscribers of the data.
  • TV data is released daily (and can be used immediately) and radio is released monthly. However, it is only available as negotiating currency quarterly.

RTS (NLogic software/Numeris data)

RTS is a consumer database which helps us understand consumer behaviours, attitudes, and perceptions. This data is used to develop and ground the media strategies detailed in our media plans. RTS also includes brand information that can help us understand our client’s consumers. A couple of notes regarding the survey:

  • Sample size is 45,000 Canada wide – generated from the Numeris diary radio survey participants (who return the diaries and are aged 12+). Diaries are distributed Canada-wide including PPM markets to generate the full coverage and total Canada numbers. Those that have a PPM do not receive a diary nor do PPM participants participate in RTS, as they are already participating in another survey.
  • Markets included are Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal (English and French speakers), Quebec City and Halifax along with ‘Total Canada’
  • Survey can also be broken out regionally: BC, Prairies, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic.
  • Data is released every 6 months.
  • Topics include: retail shopping (20 categories), product purchase/spending (100 items), dining by restaurant and category, media habits, lifestyle/leisure activities, automotive, financial, travel, packaged goods (30 categories), internet shopping and real estate.
  • Psychographic/demographic data is also included, which we use extensively to aid in planning decisions. This area notes media habits and time usage for both online and offline media. We can also trend these numbers over survey periods.

The breadth of data and research available to us via RTS is a major component of media plan development, ensuring our strategies align with target audiences and their behaviours.

While databases like RTS help with media research and planning, other tools help with the actual buying. We’ll explore a few of these next!

Radius Radio (Microtherapy software / Numeris data)

Radius is the software platform we use to process Numeris radio data. Measured markets in Alberta and Saskatchewan are Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, and Regina. The platform allows us to:

  • Build station rankings through multiple demographics.
  • Develop market trend analysis to determine which stations are on an up or down swing against a variety of demographics.
  • Analyze each station’s audience make up (by audience and/or ratings). This can be further parsed by specific time blocks (breakfast, day, drive, evening, weekends, reach plan).
  • Build radio schedules that mesh with the strategy proposed in client media plans. The software allows us to build customized schedules that allow us to negotiate rotations that are more targeted than the proposed schedules from the radio stations. This allows for more efficiencies from an audience delivery and cost point of view.
  • Do post buy analysis on the final negotiated radio campaigns. Numeris currency data is released 4 times a year (March, June, September, and December). If a campaign is mid-stream, we can run the current buy against newly released data. Should a market be underperforming, we can negotiate compensation mid-stream. We also post campaigns internally to gather learnings/negotiation advantages on future buys.

Lens TV (NLogic software / Numeris data)

Lens is the software platform we use to process Numeris TV data. Measured markets in Alberta and Saskatchewan are Edmonton, Calgary/Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Saskatoon and Regina. The platform allows us to:

  • Generate audience and rating data on television programs for a variety of demographics. We can also compare the data against multiple demos allowing for program schedules to be skewed towards audiences (Millennials as an example). The research also details the percentage of live viewers vs. those that watch on playback (PVR/DVR viewing). This data can be key for any campaign that has a short shelf life or for a short-term promotion.
  • Trend program performance over multiple years (e.g. is the audience growing or decreasing?). We can also determine the audience make-up for programs to better understand how it skews (e.g. does the 6pm news skew older?).
  • Build TV schedules that meet the objectives detailed in client media plans. The software allows us to build customized schedules on each station that are targeted to our primary and secondary targets. This provides a more efficient audience and CPM delivery again our plan. We can also review all make-goods to ensure that the replacement(s) are as efficient as the originally scheduled program(s).
  • Generate post buys that allow us to gather learnings and negotiation advantages on future buys.

Out of Home (OOH)

COMMB – Canadian Out of Home Marketing and Measurement Bureau (Navigator)

The COMMB membership provides us with information on OOH (indoor and outdoor) product availability in markets across Canada, excluding transit products (trains, buses, and stations). This information is provided by vendor suppliers and details the quantities that they have for sale by product.  Here’s a bit more info on COMMB’s capabilities:

  • Data Report provides OOH advertising face counts and circulation numbers for 270 Canadian markets, including 42 different OOH products for the 17 OOH companies that are current COMMB members.
  • COMMB Navigator is their software tool that provides reach and frequency analysis on proposed/potential buys on billboards. By accessing RTS data we can get more robust demographic information. NOTE – reach/frequency data is not available for indoor products i.e. resto bar and on campus.
  • COMMB OOH members include Adapt Media, Astral, Atcom Outdoor Advertising, B.K. Corporate Marketing Services, Branded Cities, E. C. Boone, Imagine Outdoor Advertising, Lamar Advertising, Newad, Outdoor Exposure, Outfront Media, Pattison Outdoor, Quebecor, REC Media, Rouge Media Group, Signpatico Outdoor, Superior 7 Advertising, UB Media, Woodgreen Advertising.

Here at Vovia, we understand and celebrate data driven media planning and execution and know that this is the key to success for our clients. We invest heavily in technology and tools for our specialized team of experts and are always looking to the horizon for the next big trend or platform.

Didn’t see a media research tool or process covered here that you’d like more information on? Drop us a line – we’d be happy to chat.