ANA Annual Meeting 2015

Hey, ANA: Monica's Coming For You and She Knows Who You Are, What You Spend

Robot Roaming At Conference Will Promote Free 'Marketing Brain'

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Marketing Evolution will make its "marketing brain," an online system for planning and optimizing media that draws on 4.8 trillion data points, available for free in partnership with the Mobile Marketing Association, the two plan to announce today.

Monica, Marketing Evolution's artificial-intelligence ROI robot.
Monica, Marketing Evolution's artificial-intelligence ROI robot. Credit: Marketing Evolution

The announcement is set to come during a pre-conference presentation at the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando on Wednesday. While the MMA is backing the initiative, which will be dubbed the MMA Media Calculator, the system isn't limited to mobile media planning, nor is it biased toward mobile, according to Marketing Evolution CEO Rex Briggs. A sample run of a $10.3 million, eight-week media plan for a soft-drink brand recommended a mobile media mix of 10.8%, behind 44,3% for TV, 16.8% for print and 13.7% for other digital.

People can access the basic media-planning tool here, where they will be asked to log in to save their work and can create a simple media plan in about four minutes.

An expert version will get into "more bells and whistles," Mr. Briggs said. That includes such analytic mashups as combining purchase and other behavioral factors with TV audiences or data sets that include the locations and density of Walmart stores and movie theaters throughout the U.S., locations of billboards and various types of restaurants, and the Kantar media-spending database for major marketers.

Users can, for example, evaluate TV programs to find those with the highest concentrations of reliable credit-card bill payers. Late night on Comedy Central isn't a good place to find such people, for example, but Mr. Briggs said the bigger point is: "You can use a digital targeting profile to buy traditional media."

To help demonstrate the "marketing brain's" power, Marketing Evolution plans to bring Monica, a makeshift artificial-intelligence robot, to the ANA conference, loaded with the database as well as LinkedIn photos of marketers expected to attend.

The idea is that Monica might recognize the marketers, draw upon their Kantar media-spending data, and engage them in conversation about their media plans, such as asking why they increased or decreased TV spending last year. Monica may also ask a question from the conference floor of a speaker, Mr. Briggs said.

Mr. Briggs sees making his firm's "marketing brain" available open source as potentially advancing the state of marketing analytics in the industry by giving everyone a common frame of reference and language, while also hoping to win client business doing ROI measurements.

"I'm more driven by trying to change the marketing industry than short-term profits," he said. Marketers and agencies using conventional audience targeting to chase unduplicated reach aren't taking into account that not all the 5,000 impressions a typical consumer encounters weekly are created equal, he said.

Sample eight-week $10.3 million media plan for a soft-drink brand.
Sample eight-week $10.3 million media plan for a soft-drink brand.

The system has industry modules for automotive, food, pharmaceutical, beverage, retail, restaurant, entertainment, financial services, and health and beauty, at this point, with plans to add more categories, such as telecommunications.