Publicis-owned Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) and Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS) – a 2009 joint venture between Nielsen Research and Catalina – unveiled a two-year partnership Wednesday wherein Nielsen Catalina’s household-level purchase data will integrate directly with SMG’s optimization system TARDIIS. This deal will ideally let SMG clients swiftly access NCS data so they can better allocate their TV ad spend.
NCS data sets, which combine viewer data from Nielsen with shopper data from Catalina, are designed to let advertisers use purchaser data instead of demographic data to inform their media buys, particularly in television.
“[Our software] lets you better choose shows that are over-represented on your audience,” said NCS CEO Mike Nazzaro. Nielsen Catalina and its clients have been at this for a while, but what’s different here is that Nielsen Catalina has a deal with an agency.
Traditionally, the company worked with agencies but, as Nazzaro said, “it’s a stretch to call them deals. We typically sell our services to the advertiser but the agency is the day to day user on behalf of the advertiser.”
Still, it’s not as if NCS and SMG struck this deal independently from advertisers. SMG clients Kellogg Company and Kraft Foods Group drove the agreement, according to Nielsen Catalina’s VP of product and strategy, Chase Miller.
The benefits of this tighter integration, said Nazzaro and SMG EVP of research Kate Sirkin, is that it eases workflow around accessing and integrating NCS data.
“[Ordinarily a new data set] would create additional work for someone to go into a different interface, get the data and try to assimilate it into their planning system or their buying system,” Nazzaro said. “It’s a much more manually intensive process.”
For Chris Hackett, senior director of Kellogg North America media, NCS provides an “additional data point” enabling the company to better allocate its TV spend in order to hit the right buyers.
Kellogg, he said, had been in beta with NCS since December 2012 and did some in-market tests around one of its cereal brands. Hackett declined to specify what the test entailed.
“We evaluated the data and believe it can have an impact to our sales,” he said. This met one of the test’s most important KPIs (Hackett wouldn’t specify further). And Kellogg intends to roll out the program at least through 2015, spreading it across all 14 of the brands it advertises on television.
If the beta period seemed unusually long, it was because Kellogg wanted to be methodical, Hackett said: “The delay wasn’t disbelief in the data, but trying to figure out and solve for incorporating the data and funding it.”
Kellogg needed to get its buyergraphic data established first in order to inform its TV purchases. “We were in the midst of our 2014-2015 Upfront,” he said. “We’ve developed buyergraphics for our television brands and use that to inform the allocation of our national TV Upfront.”
Hackett declined to get into specifics around the buyergraphics Kellogg built, saying that information was proprietary, though he said broad categories might include current brand buyers or category buyers.
Because of NCS’s deal with SMG, Kellogg can take its time refining those segments and decide how to divide its television commercial buys based on which cable or broadcast shows have audiences that tend to buy specific Kellogg brands.
This process is step one in the media buy. “That’s a combination of our team and the specific brand managers at Kellogg and Kraft,” said SMG’s Sirkin.
“We’ll develop a quality-control index for every program. Some skewed toward our buyergraphic for Special K, others more for Cheez-It,” Hackett said. “This helps Starcom allocate our inventory across our vast portfolio.”
SMG then buys the ad slot.
“That’s where these internal systems are incredibly useful,” Sirkin said. “If the data isn’t there, it’s incredibly time-consuming.”
Finally, NCS evaluates each campaign’s success.
While Kellogg is using NCS to allocate its media buys, Hackett anticipates the data eventually informing Upfront negotiations. Ultimately, he’d like to be able to align Kellogg’s buyergraphic data with consumer insight data from the firm GfK MRI.
“I’d like see this buyergraphic data potentially inform some of the data and inputs we put into MRIs as we build out strategic targets,” Hackett said.
But what of using this data to inform digital media buys? After all, NCS purports to evaluate how sales are affected buy advertising activity in online, print, mobile as well as on television.
Hackett, who oversees all of Kellogg’s paid media in North America and not just television, said conversations around extending insights from NCS into the online arena haven’t happened yet.
But linking television with digital is a long-term goal and Hackett said, in an ideal world, it would all come together sometime in 2015.
And as for NCS, Nazzaro anticipates more direct deals with media agencies in the coming years.
“I would suspect that as [using purchase data to influence media buys] becomes more pervasive and more mainstream, we would look to work with the media-buying entities,” he said. “Starcom has played a leading role in recognizing the value of the data.”