Archive for October, 2009

Tampa Bay Economic Indicators Update – September 2009

Each month, the FCG Florida Research Group compiles a report looking at key economic indicators for the Tampa Bay market.  Here are some highlights of the September 2009 report:


Unemployment continues to be high in the Tampa Bay market. Unemployment rates ended the 3rd quarter with an 11.7% rate (higher than both the Florida 11.0% and US 9.8% unemployment rates).



Home Sales

Home sales are showing signs oif improvement and were up 26.5% in Hillsborough County for the first nine months of 2009 compared to the same period of 2008.


Number of Homes Sold in Hillsborough County

  2009 2008 +/- Percent 
January 634 565 12.2%
February 796 665 19.7%
March 1,002 849 18.0%
April 992 897 10.6%
May 1,032 942 9.6%
June 1,397 992 40.8%
July 1,459 1,003 45.5%
August 1,299 944 37.6%
September          1,331           1,003 32.7%
Total         9,942          7,860 26.5%



Automotive sales were down 29.9% in the total Tampa DMA and down 33.6% in Hillsborough County alone.


Total Auto Sales (Tampa-St. Petersburg DMA)

  2009 2008 +/- Percent 
January 28,971 42,731 -32.2%
February 30,744 40,047 -23.2%
March 33,344 40,771 -18.2%
April 31,479 41,633 -24.4%
May 27,432 38,004 -27.8%
June 30,494 35,612 -14.4%
July 28,517 37,173 -23.3%
August 33,952 29,952 13.4%
September           26,741           33,343 -19.8%
TOTAL 271,674 339,266 -19.9%


Retail Sales

  • Taxable Retail sales (for the first six months of 2009 – most current data available) were down by 15% in the market compared to the same period of 2008.


  2009 2008 Percent 
January $4,402,271,107 $5,254,217,989 -16.2%
February $4,463,249,748 $5,371,595,433 -16.9%
March $4,869,197,677 $5,766,068,917 -15.6%
April $4,427,606,583 $5,276,565,943 -16.1%
May $4,267,100,960 $5,181,432,899 -17.6%
June $4,398,020,482 $4,741,201,459 -7.2%
TOTAL $26,827,446,557 $31,591,082,639 -15.1%

October 21, 2009 at 4:47 PM Leave a comment

Do NFL Football Ratings Increase in a Recession?

Someone asked me if NBC’s Sunday Night NFL Football ratings this year were  up over last year locally in the same way they are nationally.  As I looked into the ratings, my pleased answer was “Yes”.

Ratings for both the key demos of Adults 25-54 and Adults 18-49 are up over this time last year (up 7% and 11% respectively).  On average, NBC has gained two share points in the Tampa market over last year’s Sunday night delivery.  It appears that NBC took those share points from a combination of FOX and ABC, both of which are down two share points apiece in their Sunday night prime.

Overall, we are seeing an estimated 265,000 adult viewers tune in to watch NFL Sunday Night Football on WFLA each Sunday night this season, up 11% over last year.

The inevitable follow up question happened. Why?  I can’t answer for sure by just looking at the Nielsen ratings, but I have a couple of theories:

1. My main theory has to do with the recession. In this recessionary age where people do not have discretionary income to attend many live sporting events, people will turn to their comfortable favorites – events like televised pro football games.  Families can gather around the television, have a good time, and need not spend a dime.   

Take what this Baltimore Sun blog says: “The thinking is that just as lavish Hollywood film productions soared at the box office during the Great Depression of the 1930s, televised National Football League games, which offer the same kind of escape, might be more attractive to viewers and advertisers than at any time in recent memory.” (  

Or, as this article from The Washington Times notes: “There is no rule that says a recession should prevent people from watching football from their couches.  So while the NFL may be nervous about the impact of the economic crisis on everything from attendance, sponsorships and the cost of its debt, it can take heart in the knowledge that its television ratings remain, by far, the highest in all of American sports. “ (

2. My secondary theory has to do with the performance of our own local NFL team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Our team currently stands with a 0-5 record – a dismal showing. I expect to see football ratings for all the networks continue to grow if our home town team continues to perform poorly.   Without a local team to rally around, I would expect many come-from-elsewhere-replanted Floridians to start showing more and more interest in their home teams from outside this market – thus why we see games for teams in the northeast (New York Giants, for example) do so well.

3.  Lastly, perhaps NBC has a better lineup of teams this year. This is 100% a guess on my part, as I don’t really follow sports and I couldn’t tell you the popularity of these teams listed from Adam!  However, if you a sports fan, I’ve included the specific teams that have played so that you may be able to infer something from the lineup versus last year.  Perhaps any of you out there with a greater knowledge of sports than me can help me shed some light on this aspect.

NBC 2009 NFL Sunday Night Football A25-54 Ratings

  • Bears vs Packers (9/13/09)         7.9
  • Giants vs Cowboys (9/20/09)    10.8
  • Colts vs Cardinals (9/27/09)      8.2
  • Chargers vs Steelers (10/4/09)  8.9
  • Colts vs Titans (10/11/09)           7.8

NBC 2008 NFL Sunday Night Football A25-54 Ratings

  • Bears vs Colts (9/7/08)                9.5
  • Steelers vs Browns (9/14/08)    8.9
  • Cowboys vs Packers (9/21/08)  9.2
  • Eagles vs Bears (9/28/08)            8.5
  • Steelers vs Jaguars (10/5/08)    6.3
  • Patriots vs Chargers (10/12/08)  6.4

October 15, 2009 at 4:38 PM 1 comment

New U.S. Census to Reveal Major Shift: No More Joe Consumer

New U.S. Census to Reveal Major Shift: No More Joe Consumer

Ad Age White Paper 2010 America Uncovers the Marketing Implications
By Bradley Johnson

Ad Age
Published: October 12, 2009

LOS ANGELES ( — The 2010 Census is expected to find that 309 million people live in the United States. But one person will be missing: the average American.

“The concept of an ‘average American’ is gone, probably forever,” demographics expert Peter Francese writes in 2010 America, a new Ad Age white paper. “The average American has been replaced by a complex, multidimensional society that defies simplistic labeling.”

The message to marketers is clear: No single demographic, or even handful of demographics, neatly defines the nation. There is no such thing as “the American consumer.”

The census is the biggest market-research project of the decade. The Census Bureau will spend upward of $15 billion to count the population as of April 1, 2010, and amass a treasure-trove of data on U.S. consumers.

“The decennial census will tell us quite precisely how American consumers have changed in the past decade,” Mr. Francese writes. “It also will give us clues about where the consumer marketplace is moving. The census is the gold standard against which the results of all major consumer-research studies are benchmarked.”

The Census Bureau will begin releasing data in spring 2011. Mr. Francese, demographic trends analyst at WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather, New York, and founder of American Demographics magazine, now offers projections and insight on what the census will show.

His 32-page report, available at, will give marketers a window on what the census will show and how to adapt those findings in a marketing world reliant on broadscale demographics that no longer exist.

Selected findings of 2010 America:
• U.S. households are growing ever more complex and varied.
“This census will show that no household type neatly describes even one-third of households,” Mr. Francese writes. “The iconic American family — married couple with children — will account for a mere 22% of households.”
The most prevalent type of U.S. household?

Married couple with no kids, followed closely by single-person households, according to Mr. Francese’s projections.

The Census will give Americans 14 choices to define household relationships. Mr. Francese says this will “enable the Census Bureau to count not only traditional families but also the number and growth since 2000 of blended families, single-parent families and multigenerational families, as well as multiple families doubling up in one household.”

That presents boundless opportunities for marketers and media in how they target and segment households.

• Minorities are the new majority. “One fact says it all,” Mr. Francese writes. “In the two largest states (California and Texas), as well as New Mexico and Hawaii, the nation’s traditional majority group — white non-Hispanics — is in the minority.” And in the nation’s 10 largest cities, he says, “no racial or ethnic category describes a majority of the population.”

Mr. Francese notes how diversity varies greatly by age, “with the younger population substantially more diverse than the old.”

Consider these 2010 projections: 80% of people age 65-plus will be white non-Hispanics. But just 54% of children under age 18 will be white non-Hispanics. Mr. Francese observes: “White non-Hispanics will surely account for fewer than half of births by 2015.” In 2010, Hispanics will be both the nation’s fastest-growing and largest minority (50 million people).

• The nation is moving. Over the past decade, Mr. Francese says, 85% of the nation’s population growth occurred in the South and West. “During the still-nameless decade from 2000 to 2010,” he writes, “a total of about 3 million people have moved out of the Northeast, and another 2 million have left the Midwest” for the South and West.

Mr. Francese’s report offers his “2020 vision,” analyzing how things will change over the next decade. “Our nation will be older and more diverse, and consumer markets more complex,” he writes. The white paper pinpoints age and income groups where marketers could find the biggest opportunities.
~ ~ ~
Peter Francese wrote and Bradley Johnson edited 2010 America.

October 12, 2009 at 2:30 PM Leave a comment

Nielsen’s Plan to Replace Live Only Ratings with Live Plus Same Day

A History of time shifted viewing

First tough, a little history: For years, Nielsen could not record any viewing that was considered “time-shifted”, that is, viewing done on DVRs such as Tivo.  Within the past five years, Nielsen was able to develop the technology to be able to record this data. Thus, they began releasing two sets of ratings – Live Only ratings (viewing done 100% live TV) and Live PLUS ratings (viewers had up to 7 days to watch recorded programs, and credit went back to the stations).  All in all, the Live Plus ratings were a flop.  Although stations enjoyed the boost in ratings due to Live PLUS,  a huge majority of advertising agencies simply refused to buy these ratings, giving excuses about their commercials being fast-forwarded, their big weekend sale happens before people would see their spot, etc. 

Although I have key research that refutes all of these points, agencies have refused to budge.  To pacify the growing discontent between stations and agencies on this point, Nielsen began releasing a ratings stream call “Live PLUS 3” – giving viewers THREE days to watch programming, rather than five.  Agencies continued to ignore this stream, and all this new ratings set served to do was frustrate research directors like myself with the very real possibility of drowning in data.

The winds are changing…a current discussion

In the past month or so, Nielsen has opened up a dialogue to stations and agencies about the possibility of getting rid of the Live Only ratings in favor of a NEW stream called Live Plus Same Day.  There are varied opinions on the subject (I’ve listed some I’ve found below), but here are my thoughts about how this could affect our station:

  • I completely support the move to replace the Live Only ratings with Live Plus Same Day because that would give our station at least some credit for the delayed viewing.  (emember, even when a viewer pauses a show briefly, or rewinds, etc, that show automatically is considered delayed viewing.    )  Research shows that on average, 53% of the delayed viewing for 8pm prime programs (and 42% of the delayed viewing for 9pm programs) occurs on the same day, so we would gain half of the DVR viewing ratings that we currently do not get credit for.
  • However, I am not sure how well our agency clients will accept this data. I am sure there is a huge uproar on the agency side about this, and the only way it will work on behalf of the stations will be if Nielsen discontinues the Live Only ratings stream altogether.  If that Live Only ratings still exist, then THAT will be the stream the agencies use, hands down.

Nielsen is planning on making this switch in the ratings in December 2009.

 Other Industry Opinions

I’ve gathered together what some key industry leaders on both side of the debate have to say:

“If someone delays a program for 33 seconds, it’s considered delayed. The playback audience is quite valuable and we need to be able to monetize it.” ~~~Kathleen Keefe, VP of Sales, Hearst Television (Media Week Magazine)

“We are very strongly opposed to it. It is a significant step backwards to what clients are demanding, which is more accountability. This will overestimate the audience, and we’ll pay for audiences that we are not getting. All of our contracts are based on live-only. They are not based on a delayed basis. We would be paying for exposures that are not generating commercial exposures.”  ~~~Rina Scanzoni, Chief Investment Officer, GroupM North America (MediaPost Media Daily News)

“With the growth of DVR penetration and usage, we can no longer evaluate the performance of programs simply based on ratings delivered the following day.” ~~~David Poltrack, Executive VP of Planning and Research, CBS (MediaPost Media Daily News)

“Live ratings are clearly in the client’s interest.  Live plus same day is in the stations’ interest and we know who pays the bill.  At the same time, we must acknowledge that as Janice Finkel Greene said, a couple of tenths are not going make a big difference.  But, the stations need all the help they can get and no one wants to look at what is really happening here.  Clients, however, will not come back to Spot TV if what they pay for doesn’t pay off.  It is the job of the agency to put the client’s money in the position of the greatest payoff – that’s Live.” ~~~Kathy Crawford, Project Reinvention member and former MindShare President/Local Broadcast (

“It’s pretty much universal that everyone wanted to see Live + Same Day. The people that we spoke to – stations, local cable, as well as agencies and advertisers – indicated that they would use the Live + Same Day to negotiate local TV time, for buying and selling of local TV time.” ~~~~ Sara Erichson, Nielsen’s President, Media Client Services, North America (

“Nielsen needs to stop producing Live Only data, which is at best meaningless and at worst misleading.  Many clients aren’t aware that Live Only excludes anyone who’s in front of a set that’s on, but is tuned to pre-recorded television content or content being viewed on a delayed basis of at least 25 seconds.   They don’t know that Live Only can’t tell an advertiser, programmer, scheduler, planner or buyer who and how many people or households RIGHT NOW are in front of a TV that’s on. They don’t know that Live Only can’t provide complete and accurate audience composition of a program or time period.  As I said before, Live Only is at best meaningless and at worst misleading, and will become even more so as DVR penetration continues to grow.”  ~~~~ Pat Ligouri, ABC O&O Stations SVP/Research & Electronic Measurement (

October 9, 2009 at 4:25 PM Leave a comment

Why Internet Measurement is Not Quite as Exact As We Thought

This particular post from Media Post’s “Online Metrics Insider” weekly email came across my desk, and it does an excellent job of summing up why the job of an Internet Research Analyst can be so darn difficult at times. 

In theory, internet measurement should be the most exact form of audience measurement, especially when compared to the broad strokes estimates provided by Nielsen (Television), Arbitron (Radio), ABC Audit (newspapers), etc.  It is far too easy for non-research geeks to look at internet audience numbers and assume they are 100% to the decimal point correct.

But as the post below illustrates, there are many, many different elements that go into developing an internet audience metric, all which affect the bottom line.  Thus, while I have worked with Internet Analysts who like to report the internet figures down to the exact total (“We had 23,345,854 page views this month), I prefer to work with more broad terms (aka 23.3 million page views), accounting for the differences in measurement methodology.


~ JY


The Numbers Just Don’t Add Up
by Jim Sterne , Friday, October 2, 2009

A funny thing happened on the way to the CMO’s office.

Between the realization of an eye-opening, game-changing insight gleaned from advertising test results and Web behavior data, the report you’re gleefully ferrying to the C-Suite wilted, turns brown at the edges and starts to dribble a slimy substance with a conspicuous stench.

The CMO immediately develops a nose-squint. The VP of Corporate Communications has that “Oooo, you’re in for it!” look in her eye and the VP of Advertising nudges the Director of Direct Marketing and says sotto-voce, “The golden boy is about to find out his day in the sun has turned him to toast.”

The CMO points to (but does not touch)

        a traffic report from comScore

        a traffic report from Hitwise

        a chart from

        an ad banner report from Atlas

        a traffic report from Omniture and

        another from Google Analytics

“It’s like the old joke,” she said with no humor at all. “If you take all the economists in the world and line them up end-to-end, they all point different directions. What the hell is going on with these numbers? Are we getting thirty two and a half million people on our Web site or forty-four million?”

The first time you ran into this nest of nettles, you hopped over to the white board and cheerfully explained all about

        cookie deletion

        cookie blocking

        multiple machine browsing

        multiple browser browsing

        multiple people on the same cookie

        non-human traffic

        dynamic IP addressing

        page caching

        javascript loading

        called pixel placement

You didn’t even get to the good stuff about comparing miles to gallons and how

        different tools using

        different date cut-off routines and

        different methods to capture

        different types of data to store in

        different kinds of databases with a

        different method of data cleansing and

        different slicing and dicing segmentation to produce

        different kinds of reports that ended up in

        different feed for integration into

        different datawarehouses

…before you were thanked for your help and shown the door — permanently.

You don’t fall for it this time.

This time you explain that the world of online marketing has been suffering from an delusion of precision and an expectation of exactitude.

You tell them that we live in a world of statistics and probabilities. We can’t count all the stars in the sky, so we don’t try. We don’t try to get an actual count of

        television watchers

        radio listeners

        magazine readers

        billboard readers

        bus poster readers

        floor sticker readers

        airline ticket jacket readers

        sandwich board readers

Instead, we count some and estimate the rest.

You share the good news that we can do this better than any of the above — and we’ve got some astonishing tools and techniques for dynamically targeting the audience and optimizing each one’s experience.

You say, “We get 36.3 million people coming to our Web site.”

The CMO lowers her half-glasses and gives you the look you last saw when caught using the office copy machine for party invitations. So you add, “With a 4% margin of error and it’s a benchmark we can compare month over month from now on.”

“So somewhere between 34 and a half and 38 million,” she says.

“Pretty much right between them, in fact.”

Disparagingly, she asks, “You really can’t give me a more accurate number of how many people saw this digital marketing masterpiece that costs me tens of millions a year?”

“I can tell you whether our digital visitors are more engaged with our brand, come back more often, buy from us and discuss our products with their friends. How many people buy our products who saw our ads on CNN and ‘Oprah’ that cost you hundreds of millions a year?”

The VP of Advertising makes himself visibly smaller.

“I came here to show you a way that could save four million dollars of search marketing while boosting online sales by 6 to 8%,” you say.

The scowl leaves the CMO’s face. The odor of dubious data dissipates. Her eyes narrow as she leans forward and says, “Show me.”

The numbers don’t have to be precise — just compelling.

October 5, 2009 at 3:10 PM 5 comments

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