Digital marketing agency 360i has hired a new head of its Insights and Planning group, and plans to expand the audience research team with additional hires in the future. Lee Maicon, formerly of WPP’s Wing division, came on board as 360i’s new VP of Insights and Planning earlier this summer.
The purpose of the division is to study people’s interactions with digital media and conversations about products and brands in those realms, in order to understand their behavior. “Our challenge going forward is, more and more, our clients are asking us to apply that knowledge,” said Maicon. That transition from research to findings to actual application of those findings, added Maicon, is one he believes “traditional agencies have tried to make – some better than others.”
The company focuses on the real-time conversations that bombard the Web, supplementing research of those discussions with other available research that measures the ways in which people use digital media. The agency launches studies on behalf of its clients, tying them to specific marketing questions or campaigns.
For instance, said Sarah Hofstetter, 360i’s SVP of emerging media and brand strategy, “If I’m trying to understand teens’ food and beverage consumption…they’re very vocal [about that] online.”
While the company is interested in how people are using emerging channels like geo-location based platforms Foursquare or Gowalla, she explained that “mature platforms” are where conversations among consumers are more lively. Foursquare is not a conversational tool, but she said, by analyzing how people use it in relation to brand interactions, 360i can develop strategies that help facilitate a more localized discussion for a brand. For instance, a retail chain might look at what store locations have the most check-ins.
The Insights group was established about five years ago and has around 12 people on staff. Maicon is the first member with significant account planning background, said Hofstetter. He’s worked at creative agencies such as Berlin Cameron and StrawberryFrog, and most recently served as head of strategy at Wing, the multicultural division of WPP’s Grey Group.
Now, the agency hopes to build out the Insights team even further. 360i will “absolutely” be hiring more Insights staff, said Hofstetter. “Historically, digital hasn’t played as strong a role [in account planning] as it needs to play,” she continued. “We think this is a necessity for marketers today.”
360i’s current clients include Coca-Cola, H&R Block, Kraft Foods, JCPenney, and NBC Universal.
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