Google and WPP have announced that they will jointly fund a grant program to support research into how online media influences consumer behaviour, attitudes and decision making. The two companies have said that they will contribute up to $4.6 million over three years to endow the ‘Google and WPP Marketing Research Awards Program’, which will immediately begin reviewing grant applications.
The program will be overseen by 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. This committee will work with WPP and Google to decide which grant proposals will be funded and ensure the integrity, delivery and impact of the research.
"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," said Hal Varian, Google's chief economist and a co-director of the grants program.
Mark Read, CEO 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.”
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.
In the first year, the ‘Google and WPP Marketing Research Awards Program’ will aim to award up to a dozen grants.