NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Publicis Groupe's MediaVest is partnering with a market-research company to answer advertising's million-dollar question: Do TV ads make consumers go out and buy products?
TRA, a media market research company, has developed a new technology that matches the advertising households receive with the products those households actually buy.
The partnership comes as the precise measurability of online advertising is putting TV under increasing pressure to show marketers a return on their investment, and as marketers are demanding more metrics to justify spending on TV.
"This is really the first time that we've had ultimate accountability," said Jen Soch, VP-activation director for advanced TV at MediaVest.
The technology was developed by TRA co-founders Bill Harvey, an industry veteran known for advancing the measurability issue, and entrepreneur Mark Lieberman. Investors include holding company WPP Group; John Billock, former vice chairman of Time Warner Cable; and Kodiak Ventures. MediaVest is the first agency to use the technology.
TRA's technology draws on buckets on granular information to create ROI reports for media spending. One bucket is set-top-box data from 300,000 homes in Southern California, another is demographic information from Experian Marketing Solutions. A third bucket of information is offline purchase data from shopper cards (such as the loyalty cards scanned at grocery checkout counters).
Mr. Harvey said the offline purchase data is extremely accurate because it comes from retailers at the point of sale.
"Although nothing is perfect ... this is very rigorous data, down to the moment and store," he said.
The benefit of the TRA system is that it allows marketers to tweak advertising campaigns based on their efficacy. So, for instance, a marketer going after swing purchasers (those who may not be brand-loyal) can use the system to see what types of cereal 18- to 24-year-old males are eating and how brand-loyal they are. They can then run advertising to target swing purchasers and see if sales data reflects that.
"Advertisers advertise to sell products, and for 50 years TV has been bought on sex and age demographics," said Mr. Lieberman, CEO of TRA. "What we are saying is, 'Why not buy based on purchases?'"
Of course, any data that is this granular raises privacy concerns. According to TRA, personal information is handled by a third party that is doing the matching to ensure the names and addresses of the consumers remain private.