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IPG Mediabrands, Nielsen Strike Data Pact for Broader Audience Measurement

Madison Avenue is taking one more step in its ongoing quest to change how advertising is measured.

As TV’s annual “upfront” ad-sales season looms, Interpublic Group and Nielsen have struck a wide deal that will give new ballast to the advertising company’s clients as they try to make sure the right sets of consumers see their commercials.

Under terms of the deal, Interpublic’s IPG Mediabrands unit will be able to match specific types of consumers with Nielsen audience data culled from transaction information and shopper loyalty data provided by  Nielsen Catalina Solutions. The result, says Arun Kumar, global chief data and marketing technology officer at IPG Mediabrands, is advertising that should work more efficiently and annoy fewer consumers.

“You can look at people who purchase your product or who have not purchased your product, get into far more granularity around their likes and dislikes, their hobbies, all the other behaviors in their lives,” he said in an interview. “People who are watching are going to be far more likely to purchase your product than other people, who shouldn’t be seeing those ads.”

The agreement calls for IPG Mediabrands to use Nielsen’s TV viewership and audience data at its media-buying units Initiative and Universal McCann. The pact comes just after the two companies struck a five-year agreement that allows IPG Mediabrands to use Nielsen products for TV, digital, audio and subscription-video-on-demand.

The deal speaks to the widening popularity of a technique known as “audience buying,” in which advertisers use various streams of data to identify the consumers most likely to want or need the product or service they are selling. Armed with information about attributes and behavior that goes beyond the traditional age and gender definitions by which TV is often measured, “audience buying” is forcing some change in the media industry. Rather than seeking women between 18 and 34, for instance, advertiser might seek first-time car buyers or expectant mothers.

“What people are seeking and asking for is for specific buyer-based segmentation,” said Damian Garbaccio, an executive vice president at Nielsen, in an interview. “Nielsen, through owned or operated data sets, is making that available on a mass scale to a partner, namely IPG Mediabrands.”

Financial terms of the partnership were not released.

Other industry players have trod upon this path. Viacom, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner’s Turner last year unveiled an offering known as “Open A.P.” that allows advertisers to use the same consumer-segment definitions across properties owned by all three companies.

Both executives believe the technique will be utilized more in this year’s upfront. “It is absolutely coming and coming faster than you know,” said Nielsen’s Garbaccio. “There is definitely a greater desire to get smarter with linear TV buying,” said Kumar. “I think the shift has already happened and it will accelerate even more.”

The technology not only allows for better placement of commercials, noted Kumar, but it should over time result in ads that bother consumers less often. “When you get smarter about messaging, you end up reducing the annoyance level of the consumer,” he said. “Viewers don’t have to see advertising that isn’t relevant for them. They don’t have to be interrupted in their experience when they get relevant advertising.”

 

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