WPP and Google offer money for online research

NEW YORK - Google and WPP have joined forces to fund a grant programme aimed at supporting research into how online media influences consumer behaviour, attitudes and decision making.

The Google and WPP Marketing Research Awards Program will begin reviewing grant applications immediately and will aim to award up to a dozen grants in the first year.

Google and WPP will contribute up to $4.6m (£2.95m) towards the programme over three years.

Clients of the two firms will be able to volunteer to provide case studies and data for research being conducted by grant recipients.

The committee overseeing the programme is comprised of Professor John Quelch, senior associate dean of Harvard Business School and a non-executive director of WPP, Dr Hal Varian, Google's chief economist, and Professor Glen Urban, former dean of the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

They will work with WPP and Google to decide which grant proposals will be funded and will be responsible for ensuring the integrity, delivery and impact of the research.

Varian said: "We want to encourage more research about how online and offline media work together to influence consumer choices. We think that such research will contribute to more effective and more measurable advertising performance.

"I'm excited that we're teaming up with WPP to fund these activities."

In addition to funding, WPP will provide access to BrandZ -- the annual study of brand perceptions published by The Kantar Group -- and the media data and research generated at GroupM.

Mark Read, chief executive of WPP Digital and WPP's director of strategy, said: "We are thrilled to join Google in supporting this research program.

"The industry, our clients and our companies will benefit from the application of some of the world's finest academic research minds into how online media influences consumers.

"The digital age raises many complex and critically important questions for marketers and media owners. The meshing of the business and academic worlds puts us on the path to providing robust answers."

WPP formed a separate partnership with Google's rival Yahoo! in May. The two firms joined forces to develop a digital media trading platform, aimed at improving the efficiency of buying display ads across the internet.

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