WPP's Kinetic Launches Shopper-Marketing Practice S2B

As Marketers' Investment Goes, So Go Ad Agencies

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LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- Shopper marketing may not seem sexy, but increasing investment from giant packaged-goods marketers is making it a more attractive focus for ad agencies. Now WPP's Kinetic unit, which focuses on out-of-home media buying and planning, has opened a shopper-marketing practice called Shopper 2 Buyer, or S2B.

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Shopper 2 Buyer is designed to help Kinetic clients better measure the paths by which their products are purchased, Kinetic CEO David Payne said. The new unit is one of now eight specialty divisions within the out-of-home agency dedicated to different marketing segments, including Alcance for Hispanic marketing, Aviator for airports, Joule for mobile and Target : Health for pharmaceuticals and health care.

Kinetic hopes that portfolio approach to out-of-home marketing distinguishes Kinetic from its closest competitors, which include Aegis' Posterscope, Omnicom's Outdoor Media Group and the MediaVest and Starcom divisions of Publicis. Kinetic is perhaps best known in Europe, particularly in the U.K., and represents about $4.4 billion in global spending among clients. Almost a third of that, however, comes from the United States, where clients invest $1.4 billion in out-of-home and account for roughly 15% of the money spent in the U.S. out-of-home marketplace.

In this first issue of Ad Age Insights' quarterly trend report series on Shopper Marketing, the relationship between marketers, retailers, ad agencies and shopper marketing agencies is explored and analyzed to highlight best practices. Future issues will be published in April, July and October. On sale now in Ad Age's white paper store.

"The bedrock of our business is what can classically be termed as traditional outdoor format -- billboards, street furniture, airports and transit locations," Mr. Payne said. "But in the last five years, we've been looking at expanding our vision of what out-of-home represents. Lifestyle and environment media have progressed significantly in terms of locations."

"If you think of health-care environments, location-based environments such as cinema, bars and airports, there's a much larger range of opportunities to reach the consumer," he added.

Shopper 2 Buyer is also hoping to lead the marketplace by offering up clients a research tool it's calling the Life and Time Tracking Engine, or LATTE, which is designed to track consumers' daily lifestyle and shopping habits hour by hour. Early day-in-the-life studies have already been conducted in 20 markets where the bulk of Kinetic's U.S. business is conducted. "We can drill, down to an hour, data about different types of people in different markets," Mr. Payne said. "It allows us to track those journeys quite significantly." Other research tools include software that helps clients locate shopper-marketing venues. Mr. Payne declined to identify Shopper 2 Buyer's initial clients.

David Payne
David Payne

In-store marketing has become a renewed priority for many retailers. Best Buy has been building up a large-scale in-store and online media network called Best Buy On. The leader in in-store media, Walmart, is represented by MediaVest's Shopper Marketing group, which was introduced in 2008 to improve behavioral targeting and shopper marketing strategies among clients such as Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Wrigley-Mars and Kraft.

Shopper 2 Buyer is unrivaled in terms of its experts, Mr. Payne argued. "We recognize this is a big industry, but the point of differentiation that sets Shopper 2 Buyer apart is the fact that we're purely focused on in-store media and media that surrounds in-store opportunities," he said.

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