by Steve McClellan

Mediamark Research & Intelligence and the Media Behavior Institute said they would jointly develop a database tracking U.S. consumer media usage and how such consumption relates to brand purchasing behavior.

The companies hope the approach will take contextual planning to a more precise level for marketers. Details of the partnership will be disclosed at the 4A’s “Transformation” Conference in San Francisco today.

“Our goal is to create a U.S. database of consumer activity that can serve as a hub of information on all the factors that could affect a consumer’s receptivity to a brand message,” said Kathi Love, president and CEO of MRI.

The two companies will base their work on a methodology developed by the U.K.-based Institute of Practitioners in Advertising called the “TouchPoints” initiative. MBI has an exclusive license agreement to import that methodology to the U.S. Some 50 U.K. firms are now using the IPA’s TouchPoints research.

MRI and MBI hope to convince marketers that they will offer more precise insights about the impact of media usage on consumer buying habits by combining the IPA’s media tracking methodology with data from MRI’s “Survey of the American Consumer,” which quizzes 26,000 adults twice yearly on their use of media, consumption of products, lifestyles and attitudes.

“We decided to partner with MRI because it has more than 30 years of data on consumer media usage and purchase behavior gathered in face-to-face interviews, a highly reliable way of collecting information,” said Bill Moult, CEO of MBI.

To test the feasibility of combining the TouchPoints methodology with MRI data, MRI and MBI conducted a pilot program last year in Detroit and Indianapolis. Fifty adults in the two markets — all of them “Survey of the American Consumer” participants — completed an iPhone-based electronic diary. Equipped with an iPhone application created by MBI, the respondents were asked to report their daily activities, media usage and mood by entering information in the iPhone application at half-hour intervals over the course of 10 days.

Based on the positive results from the pilot program, the companies decided to proceed with the partnership.