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From Frenemies To Partners, WPP Collaborates With Google On Research Project

This story was written by David Kaplan.
UK ad holding company WPP Group and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) are teaming up on a small, three-year project to study consumer behavior, WSJ reports. The two have so far agreed to put up just $4.6 million for a three-year study which will try to offer insights as to the influence of online advertising on consumer choices. The participating marketers who agreed to subject their web efforts to the study include WPP clients Ford and Unilever.

In particular, the studies aim to determine the right mix between online and traditional media spending, in terms of growing sales and brand image. A second study will show the the uses of psychology and neuroscience on figuring out the relevancy of web ads. A third study will look at how Chinese web users respond to different online-ad formats, such as display and search ads. The collaboration reflects WPP's efforts to broaden its research capabilities and be seen as more than just another collection of ad agencies. WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell has often criticized Google's hegemonic hold over online advertising, though has also noted that the firm has spent over $800 million with the search giant annually.


By David Kaplan