The Next Gamble for Vegas Ad Agency: Measuring Integrations

R&R Partners' 'Grid' System Favors Context Over Counting Logos

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LOS ANGELES -- The advertising agency behind the omnipresent "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" tagline is tackling an area considerably more daunting than drawing tens of millions of people to Sin City.
R&R Partners' new system will try to measure the value of integrations, such as the LVCVA's three-episode story arc on Bravo's 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.'

Executives at R&R Partners are trying to define the value of product placements and brand integrations, a tough nut that that so far has proved hard to crack for research firms, media-buying agencies and even marketers.

May offer methodology to others

R&R Partners, which initially plans to use its measurement tools for its own clients, is considering opening up the methodology to other marketers and to production companies that work in the space.

The ad agency will use the tool to gauge integrations by brands that partner with its main client, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The agency doesn't intend to start a stand-alone service competitive to those offered by Nielsen and iTVX, at least not in the near future, but wanted to "take the concept out for a walk," said Rob O'Keefe, R&R's group account director. He did so during a session at the Promotion Marketers Association Star Power conference yesterday at Universal City.

Judging context and relevance

While not mentioning other services by name, Mr. O'Keefe said R&R Partners' measurement system, temporarily dubbed "the grid," uses the context and relevance of an integration as a way to judge its value. That separates it from existing services that measure an integration based on screen time, logo shots and other traditional product-placement gauges.

R&R's grid would be customized for each brand, Mr. O'Keefe said, because "there's a completely different dynamic from Doritos to Dodge."

The agency, which is still doing research in the area, will continue to look at how a relevant brand integration affects a consumer's intent to buy a particular product. That's a recurring and yet unanswered question in the complex branded-entertainment world.

Mr. O'Keefe said his system, like the Nielsen and iTVX services, measures factors such as implied endorsement, ratings, airtime, verbal mentions and promotions.

Flaws in all the systems

Some executives at the annual entertainment marketing conference said the R&R effort is interesting but still has missing pieces, as do the existing services. None is without its flaws, though numerous marketers are using the established measurement systems.

"Even if you know that an integration is relevant, that still doesn't tell you the return on investment," said one executive at the conference.

R&R Partners has been using the system to value its deals for LVCVA, which last night launched a three-episode story arc on Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." Other prominent integrations include the "E! News Vegas Report" on the E! Network; the "Best Damn Las Vegas Insider" on ESPN; and "Dream 18," a golf-themed show on Fine Living. The ad agency co-produces much of the unscripted content.

Overall, Mr. O'Keefe said, the agency's measurement system shows that the Vegas convention bureau's projects see between 10% and 55% return on investment.
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