AOL, Mediabrands partner for digital retail


IPG’s Mediabrands and AOL announced a partnership to create online and technology solutions for both consumers and retail marketers.  The goal is to provide shoppers with an effective online approach to make more informed store and brand choices, plus provide retail marketers with advanced insights allowing them to present optimal product selections to customers in customized formats. 

Mediabrands and AOL plan to align collective resources and announce a Retail Advisory Board in the coming weeks.  IPG is one of the largest buyers of retail advertising in the U.S. 

“Mediabrands partners with top retail and CPG brands, and we are committed to investing in resources to develop innovative retail solutions beyond what currently exist in the marketplace today,” said Bant Breen, President, Worldwide Digital Communications, Initiative.  “AOL has a substantial audience of engaged shoppers that can provide critical insights into what consumers need to enrich their online retail experience.  Those same insights can also help marketers create a consistent consumer experience with the local retail store.  By partnering with AOL, we can leverage our collective assets in retail, consumer insights and hyper-local to re-invent the category.”

There are two initial phases of the partnership:

A detailed analysis of the pre-shopping experience organized through the lens of the shopper completed by the IPG Lab, the research and development division of Mediabrands.  The Lab’s proprietary Neural Shopping Matrix methodology reveals the factors that influence shoppers’ decision making and helps determine which retail advertising elements yield the greatest impact.  Through a recent study, the Lab discovered that the modern consumer conducts pre-shopping research for nearly all products and not solely on highly considered or high priced purchases.

Two initial findings of the new customized retail research:
•   Shoppers seek comparative pricing and feature comparison options, coupon integration, store locations, and more from their pre-shopping research. 

•   Shoppers are interested in an online product that blends the convenience of having all the deals, sales and special offers in one place, like the traditional insert, combined with the ability to cross-reference multiple sources.

“Consumers’ needs evolve on a daily basis, and through the explosion of technology, their shopping habits have been radically altered.  In order to help retailers navigate these dynamics, we must look at that constant shift through the lens of the shopper,” said John Ross, President of the Lab.  “Increasingly, retailers want to replicate the sustained effects of newspaper advertising through other mediums.  Together with AOL, we want to identify important trends and help retail marketers improve return on their collective retail marketing efforts.”

AOL and Mediabrands will leverage research insights to create a new online pre-shopping program that will be tested with key retailers throughout Q3 and Q4 2010.  The program will include five leading retail partners, and success will be measured against the creation of user training, in-store sales lift and the effectiveness of new ad formats.  Geomentum, the hyper-local agency division of Mediabrands, will help track sales results at the store level, and AOL will leverage its media properties to execute a consumer-driven experience throughout the summer. 

The companies plan to expand the partnership to create new solutions in Hyper-Local Marketing by leveraging Geomentum and AOL’s hyper-local platform.

RBR-TVBR observation: If successful, it will only mean less local ad dollars for your station(s). There is often nothing more proven powerful than on the street sales experience. AE’s have a head start already with that experience and they can bring similar findings with them to a local sales call to bring those dollars to their station, its website and its social media/loyalty offerings.