Google, WPP create research grant program

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Online giant Google and media conglomerate WPP have created a grant program to support research into how online media influence consumer behavior, attitudes and decision making.

WPP and Google will contribute up to $4.6 million over three years to endow the Google and WPP Marketing Research Awards Program. In its first year, the program hopes to award up to a dozen grants.

“We want to encourage more research about how online and offline media work together to influence consumer choices,” said Hal Varian, chief economist at Google and a co-director of the grants program, in a statement. “We think that such research will contribute to more effective and more measurable advertising performance.”

Professor John Quelch, senior associate dean of Harvard Business School and a non-executive director of WPP, Google's Varian, and Professor Glen Urban, former dean of the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will oversee the 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,” said Mark Read, CEO of WPP Digital and WPP's director of strategy, in a statement. “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.”

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

For more information about the Google and WPP Marketing Research Awards Program, go to http://research.google.com/university/marketingresearchawards/.

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