Magazine article Marketing

AGENCY 2002: Market Research Agency of the Year - Ipsos UK

Magazine article Marketing

AGENCY 2002: Market Research Agency of the Year - Ipsos UK

Article excerpt

Ipsos' high-tech solutions along with its 46 years of experience has helped the agency to meet its clients' needs in a year of increased demand.

Ipsos, the publicly quoted French market research group, made its first move into the UK with its acquisition of RSL. For a number of years the Harrow-based subsidiary was known as Ipsos-RSL, but the operation has now rebranded itself as Ipsos UK.

Staff numbers have increased from 330 to 350 during the past 12 months, and turnover is predicted to rise by 7.5%, from pounds 40m to pounds 43m. These are respectable figures, and probably ahead of the average for the bigger research groups in what has been a particularly tough year for many companies.

But it's not for the expansion of its business that Ipsos UK has been singled out as Market Research Agency of the Year, so much as for its long list of innovative research methods, many of them harnessing the latest technology.

Diageo subsidiary Translucis projects a mixture of editorial and advertising onto plasma screens in trendy bars and clubs. It knows that more than one million young people visit these premises every week, but wanted to be able to tell advertisers how long they watched the screen.

This technical problem was put out to pitch, and was won by Ipsos with a methodology claimed to have developed by the CIA and FBI. Miniature video cameras are mounted on selected screens. The number of people looking at the screen in a 30-second period can then be carefully analysed. Measurements are taken at different times of the day and night to track variations in viewer behaviour patterns.

Ipsos also claims to be the first agency to develop a means of testing interactive advertising. Developed with its advertiser client and a software company, it uses special PCs to tell the researchers if respondents choose to press the red button and go interactive, and what they do when they reach the microsite.

The agency is currently testing the use of double-screen computer-assisted interviewing for the National Readership Survey. Respondents see on their own screen material that the interviewer might normally have to show on card or via videotape. Again, Ipsos believes that it is the first in the UK to use this technique.

For British Airways, Ipsos has been conducting a continuous ad-tracking survey and a regular brand equity study among frequent flyers since June, via the internet.

Using virtual reality technology, the company is also able to create virtual pharmacies and supermarkets in which consumers are free to explore shelf displays, promotions and packaging, and even ask the pharmacist questions.

The agency says it is currently pioneering new methods of modelling the effects of advertising promotion on price and sales for a major packaged goods manufacturer, in order to identify the optimum spend for profit maximisation.

Its Next*idea branded product is one of the few largely quantitative systems available for advertisement testing at the storyboard stage. Demand for the product, says Ipsos, has been 'amazing' - 'We have done 150 concepts for one client in the first nine months of this year.'

As a media research specialist, Ipsos UK has major contracts for the National Readership Survey, Rajar and BARB. According to its submission for this year's league table, its work is almost 90% consumer-focused and includes continuous surveys (37%) coupled with quantitative and qualitative research.

Major client wins achieved by Ipsos UK during the year have included AXA group, British Airways, Eurotunnel, financial services company Goldfish, McDonalds and Pfizer. One significant loss from the roster was the Abbey National bank.

NOP RESEARCH GROUP

In terms of UK turnover and staff numbers, it has been a static year at NOP Research Group, which is part of research and business information company NOP World. …

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