Mediamark Research & Intelligence (MRI) and the Media Behavior Institute (MBI) today (1st March 2010) announced a strategic partnership with the goal of jointly launching a syndicated, consumer-centric, multimedia database that could transform the way media is planned, bought and sold in the US. MRI and MBI are building on a research methodology pioneered by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), the United Kingdom’s leading organisation for advertising, media and marketing communications agencies. Launched in 2006, the IPA TouchPoints© initiative now serves more than 50 companies in the U.K.

The announcement was made at the Transformation 2010 conference of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, held at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square Hotel.

MRI and MBI are building on a research methodology pioneered by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), the United Kingdom’s leading organisation for advertising, media and marketing communications agencies. Launched in 2006, the IPA TouchPoints© initiative now serves more than 50 companies in the U.K.

“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.

Formed in 2008, MBI has exclusively licensed the IPA TouchPoints© name and methodology for use in the United States. MRI and MBI intend to create a USA TouchPoints© study that will help marketers target consumers within the context of their daily lives. USA TouchPoints© will offer detailed attitudinal, category and brand purchase behavior for consumers via MRI’s extensive Survey of the American Consumer information, enabling marketers to target the right audience for their products and services when, where and while engaged in the activities that render them most receptive to marketers’ messages.  USA TouchPoints© will cast a uniquely granular light on how media are used throughout the day and week; it will show precisely when, for instance, consumers are using media alone, using several media concurrently and using media concurrent with another life activity.

“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.  “MRI is already the gold standard resource for understanding advertising targets; where else would we want to partner as we add the dimension of life and media context to targeting?”

The partnership between MRI and MBI began with a pilot test in 2009 in the Detroit and Indianapolis DMAs. 50 adults in these two markets —all of them respondents to MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer—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 this information on the iPhone application for a ten-day period at half-hour intervals.

“The result will be an unprecedented tool for multichannel and context planning. Based on the overwhelming cooperation rates shown by the respondents in Detroit and Indianapolis, we are on our way to establishing a new standard for integrated research to support multichannel planning,” continued Moult.

“The pilot tests exceeded everyone’s expectations for consumer response and timeliness,” continued Love. “We know where a respondent was, who they were with, what they were doing and what media they encountered along the way. And, because these consumers are respondents to MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer, we also know what they buy and how they think. This facilitates the highest form of context planning by helping to identify and define communications opportunities, enhance the planning process and inform budget allocation decisions.”

About MRI:
Founded in 1979, MRI interviews approximately 26,000 U.S. adults in their homes each year, asking about their use of media, their consumption of products and their lifestyles and attitudes.  Because these interviews are structured as an area probability study, the results are projectable to the entire U.S. adult population. It is the country’s leading provider of magazine audience and multimedia research data. The company releases data from its Survey of the American Consumer (adults 18+) twice yearly, in the spring and fall. MRI data have become the basic media-planning currency for the majority of the media plans that are created each year by national advertisers and their agencies. MRI Starch, a leader in providing marketing intelligence of print advertising effectiveness, is a division of MRI.

MRI is part of GfK Group AG, Nuremberg, Germany. The GfK Group is the No. 4 market research organization worldwide. Its activities cover the three business sectors of Custom Research, Retail and Technology and Media. The Group has 115 companies covering more than 100 countries. Of a total of approximately 10,000 employees, more than 80% are based outside Germany. For more information, please visit http://www.mediamark.com/.

About MBI:
Media Behavior Institute LLC was created in 2008 to address the industry need for advanced multimedia measurement and analysis. Building on years of Sequent Partners’ collaboration with Ball State University’s Center for Media Design, starting with Middletown Media Studies II in 2005, these two organizations conducted a number of unique observation studies, including a Media Acceleration Project in 2006 and the Video Consumer Mapping Study for the Nielsen-funded Council for Research Excellence in 2008-2009.

Shortly after Media Behavior Institute was formed in 2008, MBI struck an exclusive agreement with the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) of the UK to bring their TouchPoints© brand and method to the US.  In its very first year of existence, therefore, Media Behavior Institute was making a clear commitment to not only be multimedia, but also be multi-method. MBI has made significant investments of time and money to update the electronic diary data collection platform to one that is mobile phone-based. The March 2010 announcement of MBI’s partnering with MRI takes the multi-method approach to an even more highly integrated level.