Omnicom is boosting its data arm with a new tool to convince skeptics that PR can drive business results

  • Omnicom launched a new platform to measure PR campaigns' effectiveness.
  • OmniearnedID says it helps PR pros build audiences, pick influencers, and help manage brands' reputation.
  • Agencies are increasingly developing software to show campaigns can lead to tangible results.
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Public relations agencies have ramped up investments in data analytics as skeptical clients demand more precise measurement and proof that PR can produce tangible business results like sales and reputation lifts.

Advertising giant Omnicom's response is a new analytics platform, OmniearnedID, that it hopes will give its PR agencies an edge over its competitors.

Omnicom's agencies include FleishmanHillard, Ketchum, and Porter Novelli, and their clients include Wendy's, Levi Strauss & Co, and AT&T.

OmniearnedID is trying to measure for campaign results like sales and brand reputation and assess how many people will read a negative story or blog post in a crisis situation.

Read more: CEOs of PR firms like Edelman and BCW reveal why they're focused on winning business from advertising and consulting companies coming out of the pandemic

"Once someone consumes a piece of content, we can track them in any offline or online retail environment," said Mary Elizabeth Germaine, partner and managing director of global analytics at Ketchum, who tested OmniearnedID on several clients.

OmniearnedID also claims to analyze who is consuming media about a given brand or issue, and understand cultural trends and predict future trends.

It's common industry practice for brands to use survey data to build audiences and work with influencers based on their follower counts and followers' interests. 

Jonathan Nelson, CEO of Omnicom Digital, said OmniearnedID differentiates from other platforms. It uses anonymized data like demographics, firmographics, locations, brand affinities, media habits, and purchase behaviors, which is more precise, said Erin Lanuti, chief innovation officer at Omnicom Public Relations Group.

OmniearnedID's pitch is also that it gives brands and agencies more data to choose which influencers to work with.

OmniearnedID has been in development for more than a year and is an extension of Omni, a 2-year-old precision marketing and insights platform for brands that Omnicom spent more than $50 million and almost a decade to develop, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The idea is that expanding the Omnicom platform lets PR, advertising, and marketing agencies speak a similar language and integrate their campaigns.

Read more: 27 software firms that companies like Amazon and Unilever use to supercharge their public relations efforts

PR agencies and brands have historically bought the kinds of services OmniearnedID provides from software vendors. However, the vendor industry has consolidated rapidly over the past decade, driven by acquisitions made by the two largest players, Cision and Meltwater.

The launch of OmniearnedID shows holding companies' appetite to develop their own software. Weber Shandwick launched a data analytics division in January 2020. Later that year, MDC Partners launched PRophet, a tool that helps PR teams predict how a story will perform before they pitch it to a journalist.

Omnicom reported its third-quarter 2020 revenue declined 11.5% year-over-year to $3.2 billion, with its PR unit falling by 3.4% year-over-year. During the second quarter, Omnicom laid off about 8% of its workforce, or 6,100 jobs.

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