L.A. Consultancy to Guide Marketers Through New-Media Landscape

Research Firm Interpret Pitches Anti-Silo Stance to Reach Consumers

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LOS ANGELES -- The founders of Nielsen Interactive Entertainment have left the company to launch a research consultancy, Interpret, whose scope is to measure the effectiveness of marketing strategies across various new-media platforms.

The founders of Interpret are helping marketers and Hollywood execs chase consumers across various content platforms.

Michael Dowling, Jason Kramer and Grant Johnson founded the company in Los Angeles to help advertisers place and measure their campaigns on the Internet, on next-generation video-game consoles and on mobile devices like cellphones and Apple's iPod.

It will also work with Hollywood's film studios and TV networks to optimize their content and promotional strategies across those nontraditional platforms and advise technology providers on how to improve the consumer experience.

New media as 'heir apparent'

"We're beginning to see media companies embrace new media not as a stepchild but as an heir apparent of media," said Mr. Dowling, who serves as the company's CEO. "We're helping them figure out how to maximize across media instead of buying individual silos."

The executives are making the case that consumers are dictating the digital-content revolution through the choices they make and are the ultimate arbiters of what succeeds or fails for content providers, marketers and technology providers.

"Our goal in creating Interpret is to fill a void in this marketplace by building a company that follows consumers' leads in breaking down content silos, and to help media, content and technology companies realize the true value of their brands," Mr. Dowling said. "The key to success in the digital future is developing a common, consumer-driven language for technology developers, content companies and advertisers."

But what that requires is a standardized way of measuring the effectiveness of ads across multiple devices.

In-game advertising metrics

When it comes to in-game advertising, studies from various research firms, including Nielsen Interactive, have reported that a large number of gamers recall the brands they see. But the industry still lacks a standard metric for media buyers to gauge the effectives of product placements and marketing messages. That's something Interpret's founders are looking to develop.

Mr. Dowling declined to disclose its client roster, but video-game publisher Activision is working with the company on several projects. Interpret will not charge clients a retainer, but is billing per project.

The three partners founded Nielsen Interactive Entertainment to consult for clients looking to play in emerging media, and were responsible for turning around Nielsen Entertainment's international and global home entertainment units.

Nielsen files lawsuit

However, the three were fired by Nielsen in March after the company learned that they were planning to create a company that would essentially compete with Nielsen. Nielsen has since filed a lawsuit, accusing the executives for misappropriating trade secrets belonging to the company.

Neither Mr. Dowling, Mr. Kramer nor Mr. Johnson would address the lawsuit.

But Nielsen Entertainment has since tapped David Gilison as senior VP, Nielsen Interactive Entertainment, to replace Mr. Dowling, and Kathy Benjamin as senior VP, home entertainment, to replace Mr. Kramer. Mr. Gilison continues to oversee Nielsen NRG's tracking products, while Ms. Benjamin still manages the cross-discipline Strategic Analysis Group for Nielsen Film and Home Entertainment.
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