3D Helix Project

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For years now the growing elephant in the marketing room for media planners has been that the currencies they use for brand and tactical planning are highly fragmented with particular growing urgency around reliable and comparable measures for conventional media vs. emerging mobile and online channels, especially online TV/video viewing, for which consumers in Asia are especially hungry. In many ways this is a world-wide issue but the challenge in Asia in particular is where media budgets are just not yet sufficient to justify the kind of costly 'single source' solutions that have become common in Western markets.

Whatever solutions were found, it would have to result in cooperation not just between GroupM agencies, but also with its research suppliers and even its competitive agency groups. Effectively GroupM Asia Pacific would be testing if it was possible to take disparate sources from multiple suppliers and successfully integrate them to establish a model for developing markets to have a true cross media planning solution – both for their client but also for the industry to benefit.


It was decided that a central pillar of the strategy would be would be to set up the largest network of interlinked currency data across multiple markets ever undertaken to allow true cross media/currency planning on an unprecedented scale. Specifically they would build on a research integration technique (that all bit media groups have used on a small scale over the last decade) using the ‘alternative fusion’ technique of ‘multibasing’, developed by Telmar.

Historically it has been used to attach and plan on client segmentations to with a single currency only. However in this case they would build on work by GroupM in China in 2011 where they integrated a local proprietary study call 3D (see next section) with a TGI-like survey and TV currency data.


For the project to work GroupM needed to have a network of hub surveys across Asia that could be housed in Telmar and then ‘plug in’ the media currencies. Luckily GroupM annually runs the largest network of extensive annual surveys throughout Asia, called ‘3D’. This study covers 53K+ respondents and is representative of consumers in 12 major Asia markets and was ideally suited to be the hub, since the ‘TGI-like’ surveys industry surveys that might also be used have less market coverage and will take some years to be available in Telmar in all markets. After this the next biggest challenge was getting access to all the currency data to which the currency owners had traditionally made life very difficult to access: In particular it needed TV (i.e. TAM – Television Audience Measurement - Data) and digital currency (like Effective Measures or CommScore). 


Through a year of a mix of industry lobbying, pressure and persuasion GroupM got an unprecedented amount of industry data all housed in one environment on a scale never seen before. Some were made available to GroupM first for a limited time, exclusively, but ultimately all will be accessible to the entire media industry before the end of 2014:

- x7 National Digital Currencies (Effective Measures) + X1 more possible in 2014
- x5 National TAM Currencies (Nielsen) + X2 more possible in 2014
- x6 National Print Currencies (Nielsen & Kantar)

Results for GroupM and its clients:

Integration of these currencies with the ‘3D research’ (run in 12 markets throughout Asia) means GroupM can run cross media reach and frequency on an highly tailored, brand affinity-based target audiences (i.e. they excluded brand loyals from planning)

Any client of GroupM agencies can ride questions on 3D and will be able to get robust cross media breakdowns, see the unique reach of specific media or vehicles and see a well-supported reasoning for movements (or lack of movements!) from traditional to new media channels.

For the industry:

The media industry will generally benefit since all of this currency data is and/or will be released to all agencies and subscribers moving forward who will be able to do similar cross-media analysis (but rather than using ‘3D’ as a hub they will use one of the TGI/print currencies)

The ‘4As’ agency research community have been galvanised to form a ‘media research group’ for Asia where they not only use the data access liberalisation and cross media initiatives but also work on many different areas now, from shared, coordinated training of our junior staff, to collective liaison with research vendors and joint statements on our preferences for the structure of currency pitches in Asia.

This project was an example of how a holistic approach to a problem means that rather than Asia simply lifting expensive solutions from Western markets OR rejecting these and doing nothing, GroupM has found an elegant middle way that has benefitted itself, its clients and the industry. GroupM hope this provides a model for other developing and developed markets worldwide moving forward.

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February - December 2013
GroupM Asia Pacific
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