The tool, called Connections, collects qualitative and quantitative data on consumer preferences about advertising and brands, which are then analyzed using a proprietary software program. The outcome: a host of data about a particular marketing campaign or issue that includes consumers' feelings about the brand or campaign. It is now in use at Group M agencies, which include WPP Group's media agencies Maxus, MediaCom, Mediaedge:cia and MindShare.
"By being able to measure that engagement, whether it be emotional or behavioral, I think we are able to take a strong step forward," said Bob DeSena, the newly hired director-active engagement, Mediaedge:cia.
Numerous industry executives, including Mr. DeSena, have for years been debating how best to move beyond traditional measures of reach and frequency, said Bob Barocci, CEO-president, Advertising Research Foundation, which participates in a task force on the matter. "Many agencies are working on this because advertisers want it."
$2 million to develop
Group M spent nearly $2 million to develop Connections, which comprises some borrowed elements -- for instance, two products used to gather data, Channel Connect and Demand-and-Activation, come from WPP sibling company Millward Brown -- and some that are built from scratch, such as the new software program.
"We've collaborated at the Group M level with Millward Brown, but each agency interprets the findings in its own way," said Stephan Bruneau, regional director, MED MediaLab, in Europe, Middle East and Africa. "At Mediaedge we customize the communications plan using our in-house process, called Navigator." MindShare and MediaCom adapt the tool to their planning programs.
But within the agencies, Connections is used to create customized reports for particular clients. Each report is designed to solve a particular question or issue, such as: How best can an automaker reach an 18- to 24-year-old male? Using what media channel? Or, how can a brand with strong brand preference among consumers translate that advantage into higher sales? The agency might design a study using Connections to investigate what motivates consumers to buy.