Yahoo!, ACNielsen Team for ROI Measure

Yahoo and ACNielsen announced a Monday a partnership to measure the sales returns from online advertising campaigns that consumer package goods manufacturers (CPGs) run on Yahoo.

The service will use the ACNielsen Homescan panel of 61,500 households, using a subset of 15,000 to 17,000. Participants scan their offline purchasing activity while their use on Yahoo is simultaneously tracked. Consumer Direct will then work with CPGs to tweak their online campaigns to target groups found to be receptive to their messages among Yahoo’s 116 million registered users. The service will then give CPGs data on their campaigns return on investment, brand lift, and retail sales.

“All their business is done offline but they’ve done online marketing for years,” said Robert Tomei, chief marketing officer for the marketing information group at ACNielsen parent VNU. “They’ve never had the opportunity to link the two and this program does that.”

Yahoo has tried to make itself an attractive option to traditional advertisers. CEO Terry Semel has successfully turned around the company’s ad sales division, overhauling its structure to concentrate on industry verticals and focusing it on getting business from traditional advertisers.

Last quarter provided a snapshot of the fruits of these labors. Marketing services grew 42 percent compared to a year earlier, with traditional advertising growing at a double-digit percentage rate for the second straight quarter.

Semel said increased interest shown by CPGs into marketing online represented “a wake-up call.”

So far, CPGs have not cottoned to Internet advertising as quickly as many other business segments. According to Jupiter Research, which is owned by this site’s parent company, the segment accounted for just 4 percent of online advertising spending versus 16 percent in offline advertising. Part of the problem of bringing them online had been an inability to link online advertising directly to sales data, as CPGs have believed the Web better suited for higher consideration items like travel, according to Jupiter.

“We’ve heard from the CPG marketers there’s two major issues,” said David Riemer, Yahoo’s vice president of marketing solutions.. “One is, how do I find my customers more efficiently than the mass ways. Two is, how do I know it’s working.”

Riemer said Consumer Direct builds on the case studies the online advertising industry has done to woo CPGs to spend more on Internet marketing.

This past March, DoubleClick released a study showing that a Kraft Foods campaign for Oscar Mayer Lunchables that included online placements yielded a greater reach in its target audience (women with children) than an online-free campaign.

Other industry research has pointed to online advertising’s effectiveness for CPGs. In February 2002, The Interactive Advertising Bureau released a cross-media study of Unilever’s Dove Nutrium bath soap. That research found online advertising increased brand favorability and intent to purchase.

“This goes a step further,” said Riemer. “This literally allows them to see what the people bought as a result of seeing the ads.”

Kraft, Unilever and Nestle Purina were among those who signed on as the service’s first customers.

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