WPP Venture Adds Community to Campaigns

WPP has created a joint venture with online community manager LiveWorld that will integrate social networking and online community services with its client’s campaigns, the companies said.

LiveWorld offers a range of online community hosting, moderation and listening services. Earlier work for WPP included online community facilitation for Dove’s “Campaign For Real Beauty,” created by the holding company’s Ogilvy Interactive unit. Other LiveWorld work has included community services for MINI Cooper, HBO, MTV Latin America and Gemstar-TV Guide International. Non-marketing deployments include piracy monitoring on AOL and eBay sites.

The company’s services are split about 50/50 between private label application hosting and community moderation. Just over half its revenue comes from brand development and marketing services. “What distinguishes LiveWorld the most, which is intrinsic to this venture, is our ability to implement these communities so they reflect the culture of the brand,” Peter Friedman, LiveWorld CEO and chairman, told ClickZ News. “Your most important customers are going to experience the brand more in these communities than anywhere else.” Called WPP-LiveWorld, the new entity will be equally owned by both parties.

Separately, WPP received a warrant to buy two million shares of LiveWorld stock valued at $2.1 million. The deal is not unlike Interpublic’s investment and integration with Facebook, announced late last month.

WPP declined to comment on the arrangement beyond issuing the following statement from Strategy Director Mark Read: “Online communities and social networking are starting to offer significant opportunities to forward-thinking marketers. LiveWorld is a pioneer in its category and a proven leader…. They are an excellent choice for us to partner with to provide WPP clients with the most compelling and comprehensive community solutions available in the market.”

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