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From Frenemies To Partners: WPP Collaborates With Google On Research Project

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UK ad holding company WPP Group and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) are teaming up on a small, three-year project to study consumer behavior, WSJ reports. The two have so far agreed to put up $4.6 million for a study that will try to offer insights into the influence of online advertising on consumer choices. The participating marketers that agreed to subject their web efforts to the study include WPP clients Ford and Unilever.

In particular, the studies aim to determine the right mix between online and traditional media spending, in terms of growing sales and brand image. A second study will show how psychology and neuroscience can be used to help figure out the relevancy of web ads. A third study will look at how Chinese web users respond to different online-ad formats, such as display and search ads. The collaboration reflects WPP’s efforts to broaden its research capabilities and be seen as more than just another collection of ad agencies. WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell has often criticized Google’s hegemonic hold over online advertising, though has also noted that the firm has spent over $800 million with the search giant annually.