Online Researchers Launch 'ADI,' Find A Way Into An Area Of TV Dominance

Two of the online advertising world's most influential researchers--Marketing Evolution and InsightExpress--this morning will unveil an unusual collaboration, mixing components of each other's research to create a new system designed to make the effectiveness of online advertising more comparable with traditional media, especially television. The system, which will officially be unveiled during a presentation in New York this morning, mixes two elements of InsightExpress' research--pre-testing of the creative component of online ads and the ongoing tracking of online campaign ad effectiveness--with new data developed by Marketing Evolution for estimating the so-called reach and frequency of online advertising campaigns.

That last element is a key development for online marketers, giving them the ability to estimate the online equivalent of TV's gross rating points, and to do so at local market levels.

The system, dubbed ADI Plus, even has a name that evokes traditional media. The term ADI, or "area of dominant influence," was originally coined by broadcast researcher Arbitron to identify local TV and radio markets, and is synonymous with Nielsen's DMAs, or designated market areas.



That irony was unintentional, says Christine Jensen, project architect at Marketing Evolution, who tells OMD that the name is actually an acronym derived from the services it was created from: Insight Express' Ad Insights; and Marketing Evaluations I GRPs. The latter stands for "Internet GRPs," an online equivalent of local TV GRP estimates Marketing Evolution develops via its own analysis of comScore MediaMetrix online audience estimates.

While local market GRPs may seem irrelevant to a medium like online that isn't typically evaluated at the local market level, it is actually an important development, because it will allow online ad campaigns to be factored into the kind of sophisticated marketing mix models that many top marketers now use to determine the overall effectiveness of their marketing strategies, including the contribution of specific marketing and media elements.

Such models, which came into favor among big packaged goods marketers such as Kraft and Procter & Gamble during the mid-1990s, utilize powerful regression analyses to isolate the contribution each marketing variable makes to incremental sales of a product or brand. To date, television has dominated those models, mainly because TV advertising data was so easily inputted into the marketing mix models, and because TV rating points could be analyzed at the local market level where product sales actually occur.

The dominance of TV data in marketing mix models has been cited by executives in other media--especially print, and out-of-home--and even media planning guru Erwin Ephron as a factor helping to rationalize the effectiveness of TV advertising, even as the medium fragments and grows more cluttered and less likely to be exposed to digital consumers.

"Having the same measurements as their offline counterparts will be huge for online," boasts Fern Schapiro, executive vice president-client service and marketing at InsightExpress.

It also raises questions for executives in other media, which now must contend with online getting another leg up in an area of accountability embraced by many top marketers. In addition to packaged goods marketers, marketing mix models have become a big factor in the financial services, automotive, and other big marketing categories.

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