The Kantar Group
Pedro Ros (above)
Chief executive officer, TNS
Eileen Campbell (above)
Chief executive officer, Millward Brown
Jean-Michel Portier (above)
Chief executive officer, Kantar Media
In many ways, 2008 saw an acceleration of the trends we identified in 2007. Clients were more focused on insights than data and in ensuring that those insights were used effectively, and they were more focused than ever in getting the balance right between revenue-driving innovation and budget allocation/optimisation.
1 Better listening: Clients have become more explicit in their desire to have continual feedback and insights from their consumers. As Kim Dedeker of Procter & Gamble said recently: “We must get back to really listening to our consumers, recognising that this is more than understanding, it’s a way of acting, that it is a 24/7/365 endeavour and that we recognise the emergence of the unprompted voice.” In this respect, the capabilities we have within Cymfony and Precis in understanding and monitoring conversations both online and in traditional media, as well as the renewed emphasis which we have put on observational and ethnographic research, are critical. Red Dot Square, Research International and id Magasin have been at the forefront of using technology and qualitative skills to observe and interpret shopper behaviour, while Added Value’s semioticians have done much to unlock consumer reactions which would have otherwise remained hidden.
2 Better storytelling: As I highlighted last year, research and insights are not an end in themselves. Clients invest with us because they want to make better decisions, so we must deliver our work in engaging ways that propel clients to act and to facilitate that action. The appointment of Aziz Cami as Kantar’s first creative director has been followed by the appointment of Izzy Pugh and Nina Jenkins as creative directors at Added Value UK; also by the further development of MB Productions, the focus at TNS on client portals as a way of delivering information and a host of working partnerships with companies such as Landor and Ideo, which have enabled us to deliver our work in ways that inspire action. The quality and speed with which we have developed new packaging for one of our clients has been enhanced by working jointly with a creative team rather than handing off our insights to that team in a sequential way. The winner of the WPPED Cream Award for Research was a board game for Vodafone developed by Added Value – a Monopoly-style way of helping senior management discover for themselves the way the brand is perceived in different markets and the extent to which communication is consistent.
3 Real-time information: Some information is only of value if it is immediate and granular. TNS Media’s pre-eminent position in developing return path data in markets such as the US (with DirectView), the UK (with Sky), Australia, New Zealand and South Africa has enabled second-by-second analysis of viewing and measurement of previously unmeasured channels. CompetePro’s syndicated solution for online measurement and analytics has been further strengthened by its new partnership with Omniture. In both cases clients have an ability to judge, analyse and act in ways they have never been able to before.
4 Reliable data: The insights we develop and the stories we tell would be of little value if they were not based on reliable data. This is obviously the case where our data collection is used as the industry ‘currency’. RI’s service measurement compiles the data for the UK Retail Price Index; TNS Media, IBOPE and others gather TV audience figures in more homes and markets around the world than anyone else. We are also the industry currency for many readership and radio measurement contracts around the world. Worldpanel is substantially increasing its consumer panel sizes in markets such as China and Spain and introduced scanning technology in many markets. But the client desire for reliable data extends beyond these ‘currency’ services. Clients such as Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Washington Mutual and industry bodies such as the ARF are very focused on the quality of the data and the extent to which the shift online may or may not have resulted in approaches which are well validated. Consumers are concerned about their privacy, while many regulators do not understand some of the differences between our work and that of the direct marketing industry, or some of the issues which surround online tracking.
In early 2009 we appointed George Pappachen as our first chief privacy officer, to work with clients to put in place and to hold us to appropriate high standards. But our response has gone far beyond standard setting and enforcement: Lightspeed has developed real-time fraud and verification tools which are now applied routinely to online surveys; InTouch is a multi-company project team piloting new ways of designing surveys and gathering feedback from consumers. Our investment and innovation in these areas will continue.
5 Where you need us to be: Clients are looking to roll out methodologies and approaches around the world, get the balance right between global and local, and deal with the challenges and opportunities which the fragmentation of media and the emergence of new competitors and needs are driving. So it is no surprise that much of our innovation has involved extending the reach of our services and developing contemporary offers:
RI’s MicroTest Nouveau is unique in incorporating word-of-mouth in forecasting the take-up that new products and services will generate.
Mattson Jack’s Epidatabases have been extended into BRIC markets.
CHS’s National Health and Wellness Study – the industry standard – has been extended into Japan and will be launched in China later this year.
TNS Healthcare has rolled out Influence 3.0 to help clients understand the influencers on physician and patient decision-making.
Millward Brown’s AdIndex, used by many clients to benchmark the effectiveness of their online advertising, is now well established in Asia.
All Global has launched a Palliative Care Panel, unique and much needed.
IMRB’s authoritative syndicated study of The Islamic Consumer revealed some extraordinary insights and differences across countries and was well timed.
The Futures Company has rolled out its Monitor and Streetscapes services globally, enabling clients to understand trends and see examples of those trends in action, globally, online.
Describing these innovations in this way doesn’t do them justice. They are not simply a random list, but a selection of carefully thought-through and well-executed product innovations which help clients deal with contemporary issues.