This one hit me as a bit strange, but apparently a German consumer research firm known as GfK is using modified cell phones to listen to which TV ads viewers really watch as part of their research.
In order to measure TV campaign reach, GfK Panel Services has supplied its panel members with modified mobile phones, which record exposure to TV advertising through sound recognition. Individuals activate the GfK-modified mobile phone when they are watching television, and the phone is able to recognize from the sound which advertisement is being viewed.
The recorded data is then transmitted via the phone’s network, and using extremely precise statistical transmission information from Thomson Media Control, GfK is able to determine the television program during which the panel member was exposed to a specific advertisement. This enables precise determination of which advertising campaign a particular panel participant viewed at what time.
Granted, the firm is only trying to gain real-world measurement of TV advertising interaction — which is no easy task — but the method seems inherently flawed in my opinion. Research panels like this rarely return usable data, and this looks to be no exception, though I could be way off base.
The new concept was derived to help answer the following questions, among others; how high is the return on investment from a particular TV or online campaign? How much additional sales income do the individual media channels generate? Is the advertising impact of a two-channel approach, specifically TV and online, higher than advertising via just one medium? Is advertising reaching the intended target group? What is the optimal weekly exposure? How much exposure do the individual media channels achieve? Is the social media environment suitable for particular advertising messages? Does TV campaign exposure result in homepage visits?
If all those questions are answered using the methods described then I stand corrected, but I very much doubt it.