Local is so hot right now, and nobody is more local than Geomentum, the hyper-specific targeting unit of Mediabrands that parent company Interpublic Group launched in 2009. By combining consumer data, often down to the household level, with detailed local media analysis, Geomentum claims to bring digital accuracy to analog advertising.
In December, former president and chief digital officer at Starcom MediaVest Group Sean Finnegan took over as CEO of Geomentum. At barely 18 months old, Geomentum isn't quite in need of a course correction, said Mr. Finnegan. But he is putting his stamp on it, namely, making this "unit" of Mediabrands act more like a full-service, client facing agency.
"I think the vision going out was that it was purely about the technology and being able to deliver a hyper-local type consultancy approach," he said. "I'm refocusing our efforts in the area of client service, insights and technology to be more of an organic benefit to our client base."
That client base, which accounts for about $2 billion in spending by IPG clients annually, is heavy with retailers looking to goose profits in specific stores. Geomentum is cagey about discussing client specifics, but a blind case study it shared with ClickZ shows how the agency works.
A technology and software company that's become known as a consumer and entertainment brand was looking to expand its retail stores into new markets. While the brand's products scored high marks for recognition, its status as a retailer lagged behind.
Geomentum was asked to raise in-store conversions by 40 percent by going after the brand's target consumer, tech-savvy music lovers with higher-than-average household incomes. The goal was to figure out where they lived in relation to the store, and what it would take to get them in.
Geomentum's process is twofold: First it gleans consumer data from loyalty cards, shopper surveys and purchase behavior tied to Zip codes, creating a map of consumer habits that can be specific down to the household level. It then combines that data with proprietary insights into the efficacy of various media in those areas. The resulting analysis should predict which media and message are best suited to motivate consumers in any region.
In the case of the technology retail client, Geomentum determined that the target consumer lived within a 30-minute drive of the store and was best reached through a combination of SEM, streaming radio ads and Sunday circulars. The creative was also highly specific to different consumers; for example, the SEM plan included different landing pages for fathers and recent graduates, with special offers for each. Streaming radio ads were customized by Zip code.
The result was a 69 percent lift in sales. Geomentum also claimed that its campaign delivered 10 times greater performance than the client's previous DMA-level media buy.
Of course, the success of such an approach is dependent on the quality and quantity of data, both on consumers and the media. For Geomentum, much of the work going forward consists of obtaining and analyzing that data, which can be difficult in a shifting media market. But Finnegan claims the agency is "ahead of schedule and without a lot of competition in this market."
Finnegan said Geomentum, based in Chicago, is also working to automate much of the process, which due to the analog nature of much of it, is still being done on paper. "Time may slow up the process," he said, "but it doesn't slow up the results."
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
March 19, 2014