Report by Eric Salama, chairman and chief executive officer
Averages hide more than they reveal. Earlier this year I flew from Mumbai (32°) to New York (-20°). The average temperature of six degrees didn’t help me plan how to dress or pack!
There is a danger that we discuss our year in generalities and averages. But at a time when our industry is changing so fast, much of what is important is actually on the edges. Our leading indicators are how we are faring with the most innovative clients, with the most technologically-advanced partners and with our most demanding employees, measured against the goals we have set ourselves:
- To be the innovators who are revolutionising our industry, allowing clients to buy both cheaper, faster, more real-time and deeper insights.
- To help our clients deliver with impact in their organisations.
- To deliver the best marketing effectiveness and ROI solutions to our clients.
Against this agenda, how did we do in 2014 and how are we set for 2015?
By any measure we have had an outstanding year in innovating our offer and in leading the industry. Our focus has been on revolutionising surveys and fusing data sources.
We launched a range of self-service products (e.g. Millward Brown’s eStatic and LinkNow, which test advertising creative, and TNS’s Evaluate Express), which give clients the ability to carry out fast turnaround
Our investment and acquisition activity has brought innovative capabilities and world-class engineers, data analysts and management teams into Kantar
research themselves. We introduced end-to-end process automation into the way we collect data through our panel operation Lightspeed GMI and in the delivery of services such as TNS Conversion Model.
In addition, we progressed on our path to collecting all our data digitally; partnered with Google Consumer Surveys to enable us to survey specific behavioural segments; launched Twitter TV ratings to enable the industry to understand the interplay between TV viewing and Twitter in the UK and Spain with 58 more markets to come; and worked with WPP’s The Data Alliance to incorporate a host of new sources of data.
Our investment and acquisition activity has brought innovative capabilities and world-class engineers, data analysts and management teams into Kantar. The acquisition of XTEL and investment in Planorama gives Kantar Retail sales planning software and an ability to monitor point-of-sales activity in real-time. The integration of Insight Express into Millward Brown Digital gives us the leading digital marketing effectiveness capability in the US; and the acquisition of Effective Brands and the subsequent creation of Millward Brown Vermeer gives us the best marketing consulting capability around.
The investments in comScore and Rentrak and the acquisitions of IBOPE and Civolution enhance Kantar Media’s ability to measure audiences on any device in the US, Latam and the rest of the world. The acquisition of Guardian Digital Agency (now rebranded as Graphic) brought in a team of 25 of the most talented data visualisers in the world; while the acquisitions of Evidencias in Brazil and Precise in the UK give Kantar Health and Kantar Media respectively the leading players in health outcome/management expertise and news monitoring in those markets.
Our focus on innovation is not for its own sake – it is to meet client needs proactively, put us at the heart of marketing decisions in the new world and help our clients be more successful. And it is rewarding to see so many of our newly-developed capabilities driving better work with multinational clients as diverse as Kellogg’s (in retail), Unilever (in targeting), Unicredit (in use of social media), Verizon (in strategy), Ford (in digital) and with many big national players across Asia, Africa and Latam.
It is rewarding to see so many of our newly-developed capabilities driving better work with multinational clients
Our companies continue to lead the way in thought leadership, with publications such as TNS’ Connected Life, Millward Brown’s BrandZ, Kantar Retail’s PoweRankings and Kantar Worldpanel’s Brand Footprint garnering a good deal of both media and client interest.
Delivering with impact and helping clients achieve more
Our ambition is to be at the heart of modern-day marketing and to help our clients achieve more. Our innovation agenda is a means to that end. We can see evidence of client success in a number of places:
- We are attracting new types of clients. The work that Benenson Strategy Group does with BuzzFeed and Hotwire; our partnerships and client relationships with Facebook, Google, Twitter; our expanding relationships with Microsoft, Apple and Samsung are there for all to see. And it is always satisfying for our talent to be used to help clients in pursuit of social goals – such as Unilever and sustainability, the US Freedom-To-Marry coalition, the Senti Foundation helping mentally disabled people enter the workforce, UNICEF Pakistan on child immunisation, the Gates Foundation on child morbidity in India and a variety of projects across Africa.
- We have won numerous awards for our client work. Millward Brown and Added Value won ARF Ogilvy Awards for their work on Coca-Cola, HP, Bank of America, ESPN, Pfizer and J.Jill. Lightspeed’s Jon Puleston has won many accolades at Esomar Asia and UK MRS for his work on questionnaire design and predictiveness, Alex Johnson won at Esomar for his work on wearable devices and Pallavi Dhall was named Esomar Young Researcher of the Year. Kantar Health won ISPOR and AIFMA awards for client work in the US, Spain, the UK and Asia; while TNS Nigeria and IMRB in India took their national Best Agency awards.
- We are working well with other WPP agencies, horizontally, to deliver better insights and, crucially, to enable our insights to be used more effectively within client organisations. Some examples: Kantar Worldpanel partnered with GroupM agencies to win pitches for Coca-Cola in Mexico, P&G in Latam and has a range of effectiveness tools in place with them; TNS partnered with Wunderman to enable previously-identified segments be activated for IHG; Kantar Health partnered with Ogilvy CommonHealth to help Pfizer increase awareness of painful diabetic neuropathy; Added Value is working with J. Walter Thompson to help Singapore bring to life the value of its national brand; and Benenson Strategy Group is working with a host of WPP agencies to help Bank of America return to its leadership position.
21st century marketing effectiveness and optimisation
This has never been more important. New media owners such as Google, Facebook and Twitter grow their revenues by being able to demonstrate how spending on their platforms works and the impact it has. At the same time, advertisers are faced with a proliferation of audiences and media channels need to know where and how to engage with their audiences.
Our Kantar Worldpanel panels are the industry standard for understanding purchase behaviour in all key growth markets
Our approach is pretty simple to describe, harder to do... understanding what people buy and why, for all audiences, all media, globally! In doing so we are building up a unique array of proprietary data and augmenting it with third-party data through partnerships. Our Kantar Worldpanel panels are the industry standard for understanding purchase behaviour in all key growth markets such as China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico and Nigeria and we augment them with data that Kantar Shopcom and partners, such as i-Behavior, get through loyalty and credit card sources. Kantar Media measures audiences across Latam, the US, Europe, Middle East and Asia and – as we do in markets such as the UK – measures those audiences on TV, tablets, mobile and players.
Clients need and want to understand consumption, audience and brand patterns and drivers. Increasingly, we are fusing these to enable clients to understand how media activity drives a change in perceptions of a brand and its consumption. This work, which has been piloted and rolled out in markets as diverse as the US, the UK, Brazil, Spain, Vietnam, India and China, has been used by clients to understand media effectiveness and optimise their spend.
The profiles we develop – privacy-compliant and at an individual respondent or household level – will increasingly form the basis for the programmatic work we do with agencies as they seek to plan and buy media audiences.
Our contract with our people
Our ability to have impact is inexorably linked to the quality and capability of our own people and that of our clients. Kantar Health, Kantar Worldpanel and The Futures Company have all won awards around the world as one of the best places to work. For all of the talk of technology, we must make sure that we deliver to those people who make us what we are.