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Kaufman Advances

Jun 20, 2007  •  Post A Comment

A lot of people in the media business talk about return on investment, but Karen Kaufman says she knows what she’s talking about.
In May, Ms. Kaufman was promoted to managing partner, North America, for MindShare’s Advanced Techniques Group, a marketing science consultancy that works within MindShare. She also became a member of the agency’s management board.
“We work with clients to measure the impact of all their different marketing efforts, ultimately quantifying their return on investment,” she said.
For most forms of media, the group’s formulae work to let clients know what they are getting for their money, for instance by calculating how much adding $1 million in TV ad time would produce in terms of sales and profits. It’s a bit trickier dealing with nontraditional and emerging media, she said.
That sort of intelligence can be very valuable.
“With one of the clients I’m working with right now, we are working to develop an optimized budget,” Ms. Kaufman explained. “We have calculated about 10 percent uplift in profit by a reallocation of their investment.”
The ATG works with clients with budgets as small as $10 million.
Ms. Kaufman said groups like hers generally act like consultants, getting data from clients, plugging it into econometric models and producing reports and recommendations based on the analysis.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve really expanded our offerings,” she said. “We’ve also now invested quite a bit of resources in the development platform that fits over the analytics to allow our clients to really start to play around with different scenarios and to optimize their investment.
“If you think about the way that people typically do analytics, you work with the client, you develop all of these great insights, and then you hand them the PowerPoint presentation that goes off to someone’s desk,” Ms. Kaufman said.
The new technology has “gotten really good feedback from clients. It’s really user-friendly,” she said. “It’s sort of a one-stop shop to be able to see all of their data, all of their analytics, giving people the power to run simulations, all in this very comprehensive online tool.”
The technology keeps the clients’ proprietary information in a database at the agency and allows the client access to it online. Different people at the client can access the system and massage the data, whether in the finance department, marketing or the brand-management section.
The client team at the agency also can access the data on the system. With that information on hand, they have options, Ms. Kaufman said. “They’re not just looking at what’s the reach and what’s the frequency of my plan, but actually if I’m developing two different plans, what’s the likely impact on sales for Plan A versus Plan B?”
Ms. Kaufman believes what ATG is doing is superior to what’s being done at other agencies and management consultancies.
“I’ve definitely looked at what other people are offering in this space, and I would say at this point it’s not really comparable,” she said. “In terms of understanding media and marketing, I think in order to do this right, you really need to understand how all of the pieces work together.”
Ms. Kaufman grew up in Boston and attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she studied psychology.
“The program I was in was very research-focused, so a lot of my statistical background came from that,” she said.
Originally, Ms. Kaufman wasn’t planning to go into advertising. She started out in San Francisco doing social work with runaways.
“It’s interesting because when you study psychology there’s sort of two paths you can take. Either you get into the business side of psychology, trying to understand consumers and why they do the things they do, and then use that to make more money. Or you can go and try to help people. I sort of went [the latter] route at first,” she said.
After a year, however, she decided social work was something she’d like to do on the side, and moved to New York.
She found a connection at ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, which was working on the government’s anti-drug campaign.
“I started doing research in that area, really trying to identify the reasons why kids use drugs and what kind of messaging you can put into the marketplace to reduce drug use,” she said.
From there, she expanded into studying many other kinds of industries. Eventually, she began doing ROI research at Ogilvy and moved to the specialized ATG group when MindShare was formed.
In her spare time, Ms. Kaufman says she enjoys being creative.
“If I was doing something else, I’d want to do something design-related,” she said. “I’m interested in doing artistic types of things, shopping for antiques, stuff like that.”
Who knew: Ms. Kaufman studied in Italy for a year while she was in college, and psychology wasn’t part of the curriculum. “I was studying Italian culture and opera and art,” she said. “It just sort of made sense when you’re in Italy, and you’re surrounded by the art and the music, just to take some time and really focus on that.”
This article is part of TVWeek.com’s Media Planner newsletter, a weekly source of breaking news, trend articles, profiles and data about media planning edited by Senior Editor Jon Lafayette.

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