support from major cable interests. Now that TAA is attempting to go commercial and inaugurate a continuing syndicated service in 1985, the true value of such qualitative data remains to be seen. On the basis of the pilot study, which failed to show any qualitative edge for cable, cable support will be minimal.
For such syndicated surveys to be useful, two major hurdles must be overcome. The first is the availability of population figures for newly dimensioned categories because program nonviewers as well as viewers must be accounted for. The strength of demographics is the availability of an enormous U.S. Census base of data by geography. Services such as PRIZM and Cluster Plus, which build on census figures, can be readily linked to other market and media data. A second and more important requirement is that the media planners at agencies and advertisers use the qualitative service data as an input requirement for buying. Negotiating spot and network buys is a complex and costly operation at the agency level. 19 To simplify the process, the buyers have specific guides for each account. If the qualitative service's ratings are slated to be used in buying, the stations and networks will rush to supply them. Otherwise the service's effectiveness in the advertising marketplace is marginal at best, and significant industry support is highly questionable.
Gale Metzger, president of Statistical Research, Inc. and chairman of the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), closed an ARF Workshop held on December 15, 1983, with this outlook:
There is merit in what we have. It has withstood the test of time, the critical examination between buyer and seller, and the challenges of new competitors. My expectation is that the current measures will withstand the current challengers-- that ten years from now we will be using the same basic measures we are today.