MediaCell: the future of cross-media measurement

MediaCell is a versatile solution with a number of potential applications.

The author(s)
  • Paul Ruston Audience Measurement, UK
  • Jim Ford Audience Measurement, UK
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About the Technology

  • MediaCell is a mobile application uploaded onto individual digital devices, converting them into audio and online meters to understand media consumption habits.
  • It is an affordable, single-source, cross-media passive measurement solution for measuring TV, radio and digital consumption. It enables our clients to understand how consumers transition between media e.g. from TV to radio to digital, and what the cross sections are between different media platforms and devices, on a minute-by-minute basis.
  • A benefit of MediaCell is its’ ability to provide rich longitudinal data where a population’s listening habits can be tracked over time, through technological, political and market changes. The data captured can also be used to calibrate other data sources to ensure the insights are realistic and representative of society. 

A Tried and Tested Solution, as validated by CESP (September 2023)

The NMO commissioned CESP, to independently evaluate the deployment of MediaCell.

This stringent, technical audit evaluated MediaCell’s effectiveness at detecting audio content in a variety of locations including at home, in a car driving with windows open and on a building site, and in various positions e.g. on a table, in a bag, in a pocket.

The final report was published yielding extremely positive results including a reporting accuracy of 97% for the radio sessions and 98% for the listening time.

The audit shows that the new NMO radio audience measurement is fit-for-purpose and that it delivers a reliable currency.

Olivier Daufresne, Associate Director at CESP

The audit once again shows that we have established a sound measurement that meets the international standards. A system to be proud of.

Patricia Sonius, Director of Research at NMO

How it works?

Central to MediaCell is the notion of measuring human behaviour rather than technology and devices.  Our software has been designed to provide the most passive and simple panellist experience, which in turn leads to a more accurate measurement approach. MediaCell enables passive detection of exposure to any audio signal and can work in the following ways:

  • Via audio matching, which takes an ambient characteristic or ‘digital fingerprint’ and matches it to an audio library of some kind (i.e. the broadcast output of radio or television stations being measured). The resulting markings are picked up via the MediaCell application to determine the precise time and date that the person carrying the device is exposed to the broadcast.
  • Via encoding. This involves the introduction of an audio watermark into the content transmission chain (either by hardware or software) of a broadcaster. This places an echo-based, inaudible code or watermark directly into the broadcast stream. These resulting markings are picked up via the MediaCell app to determine the precise time and date that the person carrying the device is exposed to the broadcast. Encoding also enables platform detection, for example, whether someone is watching television on a TV set or online and can report on time-shifting for up to two years.

The open design approach of MediaCell allows for the integration of third-party applications and data. For example, we have incorporated RealityMine’s on-device meter into the MediaCell app, enabling tracking of online behaviour as well as TV and radio usage.

Other Use Cases for MediaCell

MediaCell For Advertisers (MFA)

MediaCell For Advertisers (MFA) MediaCell has both strategic longitudinal audience measurement solutions, as well as tactical short-term engagement studies in the form of MFA.

Where we would often use MediaCell as a term for currency-grade passive measurement with dedicated panels and the option to be used as a media planning tool, you can also combine it with MFA to deliver shorter studies on advertising reach and attitudinal measurement. In this case, it would consist of IIS panel based and/or short-lived panels.

The focus of MFA is more around engagement and outcomes, with scope to provide a comparison of competitors. These can also be combined with complementary surveys.

Out of Home (OOH) TV Measurement

MediaCell has the ability to detect any audio or TV content outside of the home e.g. streamed content, video on demand and live sports coverage. It does so in a privacy-compliant manner using Wi-Fi signatures to identify home location. This enables it to provide insights into in-home vs out-of-home listening.

More information

To understand more on how MediaCell can help you measure your audiences across media or for commercial campaign tracking, please contact Paul Ruston, or Jim Ford.

The author(s)
  • Paul Ruston Audience Measurement, UK
  • Jim Ford Audience Measurement, UK

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