You hit the nail on the head. Well, at least partly. Arbitron also was heavy into TV ratings - they folded that part of the biz back in '93 (I think they made some marketing errors, but that's another story). They're focus was on all the big markets, with 400-600 household samples in those markets. All were metered (boxes on all TV's, VCR's etc). And each household got a $10 check from us per month for their participation.
The flaw comes here - who are the people that agree to this (either meters or diaries)? Are they ones who just want the $10? Most importantly, do they REALLY represent what people in that market, earning that money, will do and buy? Only one way to know. Gotta measure results.
And I certainly don't intend to slight your spouse whose in that biz, but unless they measure advertising results (in sales, leads, whatever), there's really no way to tell whether the effort is a success, or why it is or isn't.
I'm going into depth here because I think I know what demos I want to hit, and it's easy enough to find out when they watch. But I wanted to find out what actually worked for people who had given it a go. I certainly appreciate the help, and maybe you can convince your spouse to post some info here about the measured success of media campaigns of this sort by some of the companies she's helped.