Nielsen and GfK MRI invest in cross-media research venture


The Media Behavior Institute (MBI), which is preparing to launch its USA TouchPoints cross-media research service, announced that it has gotten investments from The Nielsen Company and GfK MRI. Each of the two research giants acquired a 25% stake in MBI.

MBI noted that this is the first time that both GfK MRI and Nielsen have invested in the same company. Kathi Love, President & CEO of GfK MRI, and Matt O’Grady, EVP Media Audience Measurement for Nielsen, will join the board of Media Behavior Institute along with MBI CEO Jim Spaeth and COO Alice K. Sylvester.

“These investments from some of the biggest players in the international analytics business are ringing endorsements of the strategy we’ve pursued since conceiving Media Behavior Institute,” said Spaeth. “No one understands our industry’s need for innovative cross-platform measurement better than GfK MRI and Nielsen. We couldn’t be more pleased that they’ve seen fit to take this step.”

So, what is the USA TouchPoints program?

MBI plans to equip 2,000 US consumers with smartphones containing a special app to record media use every half hour throughout the day, along with information such as who they’re with, what they’re doing, where they are and the moods and emotions they’re experiencing while consuming media. By capturing this data in such breadth and granularity, and in near real time, USA TouchPoints helps advertisers and agencies identify the contextual factors that impact consumers’ receptivity to their messages.

MBI says the unique USA TouchPoints data can be used to target purchasers of specific product categories and brands since respondents are drawn from a sample of consumers who have recently participated in GfK MRI’s annual “Survey of the American Consumer,” which collects information on consumers’ use of more than 6,500 brands across 550 categories.

“USA TouchPoints is the most creative sandbox the media and account planning worlds have had to play with in years. It provides an incredibly granular look at daily life. Now, creative messages can be fine-tuned to relevant, precise situations and integrated marketing communications plans can be designed to reach consumers in the right place at the right time and when they’re in the right frame of mind,” said Sylvester.

“We’ve supported USA TouchPoints since 2009 when our companies conducted an early pilot test of the smartphone diaries,” said GfK MRI’s Love. “Based on the results of that test and the potential that USA TouchPoints has to make a significant contribution to understanding consumers’ cross-media habits, it makes sense for GfK MRI to deepen its commitment to the initiative.”

“In today’s dynamic media environment, providing our clients an ever-greater level of understanding of how consumers watch, buy and connect anytime, anywhere and across a multitude of devices is more important than ever. USA TouchPoints represents a significant advancement in cross-platform research and a fitting complement to Nielsen’s far-reaching cross-platform metrics,” said Nielsen’s O’Grady.

The investments by Nielsen and GfK MRI follow a successful proof-of-concept study of USA TouchPoints that was funded and supported by the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM). CIMM is a group of the country’s biggest advertisers, agencies and media owners committed to supporting advances in media measurement techniques.

CIMM current participants include: AT&T, Belo, CBS Corporation, Carat USA, Comcast Networks, ConAgra, Discovery Communications, Gannett, GroupM, Hearst, Interpublic Group’s Mediabrands, Microsoft, NBCUniversal, News Corporation, Omnicom Media Group, P&G, PepsiCo, Publicis Groupe, Scripps Networks, Time Warner, Unilever, Viacom, and The Walt Disney Company.