The Kantar Group, based in London, recently launched a large initiative in the online and mobile video space. Yesterday I got a chance to talk to Bill Lederer, Kantar’s new CEO of Kantar Video about the initiative. Lederer previously served as COO of Kantar Media Audiences North America, and also held senior leadership roles at TNS and Getty Images.

Kantar, the market research, information and consultancy division of WPP Group, is a network of more than 20 specialist companies, with 26,500 employees in 80 countries spread across multiple research and consultancy disciplines. Kantar Video is a new effort to harness current in-house expertise from both Kantar and WPP properties and from select external partners. Kantar Video is based in New York and is dedicated to effectively and efficiently measure and monetize online and mobile video for clients.

Kantar Video’s creation came about by a strategic assessment done by WPP to analyze where and when audience time was being spent; showing that time was increasingly being spent on online and mobile video sites. As audiences shift towards more consumption of online and mobile video, the needs of WPP and Kantar’s clients are also shifting. Clients are increasingly requiring a better understanding of a growing video audience along with better measurement, metrics, and insight tools into audience participation, experience, and the social impact created around video viewing. The company needed to assemble a suite of complementary video measurement and tracking tools to anticipate the continued rapid growth in global video ad spend. In Lederer’s words— “we could either buy, build, or create, so we chose to do a little of each.”

Kantar Video will serve advertising and PR agencies, content creators, content distributors and media companies with a broad set of tools to better understand, measure, and predict the behavior of audiences viewing online and mobile video. It will pull together tools from Kantar Media, Millward Brown, and other Kantar and WPP properties in hopes to create a best of breed solution for online and mobile video ad measurement.

Kantar Media is launching Echo Video, a viral video analytics tool focused on evaluating and optimizing video around ad campaigns and their components. It measures the behavior of people searching for video, their subsequent actions on the site, and the momentum they create afterwards via social media platforms. Echo Video analytics are then be compared to other data sets from across Kantar’s portfolio including Kantar Videolytics, a proprietary syndication, tracking and optimization platform dedicated to effectively and efficiently measure and monetize online and mobile video worldwide.

Kantar Videolytics data itself will be combined with descriptive, behavioral and attitudinal data from consumer panels operated by Kantar’s Cymfony business unit, and digital analytics data from WPP”s Compete business unit. Compete’s click-stream data shows the audience’s path both to the video site and where they go afterwards, offering granular insight on individual behaviors both before and after viewing. Another tool, Kantar Video Collection is a set of social media monitoring tools that read into the sentiment and nature of social influence, determining if audience members share insights and if they are positive or negative.

Lederer hopes to incorporate additional insights from other sources both inside and outside of Kantar’s portfolio companies, and sees Echo Media as “the first fruit on the tree.”

Kantar Video is currently rolling out a private beta of Kantar Videolytics to select clients and expects to launch a public beta in the fall. The platform will be build to support 12 local languages.

Millward Brown’s digital unit, Dynamic Logic has measured over 3,000 video ads to date and is combining attitudinal and engagement data to identify optimal content types for use in online and mobile video ads. The company recently developed a new Creative Viral Potential (CVP) pre-testing metric that helps ad agencies and marketers predict viral success prior to launching a new ad or video.  Kantar Retail’s purchasing data can also be mixed into the equation to measure if exposure to video makes an impact on purchasing.

All of these tools across the Kantar and WPP portfolios will help Kantar Video scale projects appropriately depending upon the needs of its customers. Lederer stated that the company’s vision is “to get a bigger percentage of the online and mobile video market.” He added that “some dollars will come out of linear ad budgets, but that customers’ video ad spend must be built on hard facts! So our focus is to profile audiences at a granular level and determine if the medium (video) moves the needle, both offline and online.”

The industry’s focus is to move video from an emerging digital media medium into a more vibrant mainstream medium. The recent proliferation of ad networks points to a belief that video is headed in this direction. Increasingly though, content is being created by third parties including professional content creators, content networks, and even PR agencies looking to provide additional services to their clients. WPP and Kantar portfolio companies as well as their competitors must also wrestle with mobile platforms. Mobile is exponentially more complex than platforms on the Web, with multiple operating systems, ad networks, browsers, video players, and of course much smaller CPM’s (cost per thousand impressions). This means that real hard facts on audience behavior around mobile video and mobile ads will be a necessity, and a requirement to keep large brands as clients going forward.

– Randy Giusto