AOL, Mediabrands partner on retail marketing initiative

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AOL and the Interpublic Group's Mediabrands specialty marketing unit have partnered to create an online service allowing retail marketers to generate customized product offerings. The companies will also study consumer purchasing decisions as part of the partnership.

The companies' goal for the service, announced June 21, is also to give shoppers the means to make more informed purchasing decisions. They also plan to expand the service to create offers in Mediabrands' Geomentum and AOL's hyperlocal platforms.

The companies planned the service after realizing they had a mutual desire to better understand consumer buying habits, said Erin Clift, SVP of global sales at AOL.

“We were grappling with the same questions,” she said.

The brands will first conduct intensive research into consumers' decision-making processes in the first phase of the partnership. The IPG Lab, Mediabrands' research and development division, has found that shoppers seek comparative pricing, coupon integration and store locations from their pre-shopping research. They also found that shoppers seem most interested in an online product that comprises deals, sales and special offers in one place — similar to the traditional insert — while also having the ability to cross-reference multiple sources.

The second phase will include an online marketing interface. The organizations will also test an online pre-shopping program with Mediabrands' clients, such as Home Depot, Kohl's and Walmart. AOL and Mediabrands will consider the effectiveness of new advertising formats, user-training and in-store sales lift.

The organizations will also create a retail advisory board by the end of next month. Board members' names were not disclosed at press time.

Clift said her team, comprised of product, technology, media, agency and sales employees, will work with the IPG Lab and its clients during the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons for the testing phase.

A Mediabrands representative could not be reached immediately for comment.

“Increasingly, retailers want to replicate the sustained effects of newspaper advertising through other mediums,” said John Ross, president of the IPG Lab. “Together with AOL, we want to identify important trends and help retail marketers improve return on their collective retail marketing efforts.”

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