FEATURE5 April 2011

Shakespeare’s American dream

Features News

US growth has been the top priority of YouGov’s co-founder Stephan Shakespeare since he returned to the helm of the business last year. It’s now the company’s largest market by revenue – and time, Shakespeare says, to make a name for itself.

“I said a year ago that the US was our main target,” he explained. “It’s obviously a very large market and it’s also a market where marketers are highly tuned in to a flow of high quality data and feedback mechanisms that are integrated into their marketing.”

Growth in the US has come largely via acquisition, with YouGov snapping up Harrison Group, Clear Horizons and Polimetrix. The purchase of Definitive Insights, announced yesterday, is the latest.

“They have a really good range of clients and they’re very strong researchers with a great reputation,” Shakespeare said of the new addition to the family. “We knew the quality there was there.”

Definitive Insights was formed in 2009 by former Research International CEO Doss Struse, ex-Momentum Marketing Intelligence president David Lineweber, former Harte-Hanks Marketing Intelligence research director Brian Cavato and Ben Kim-Gervey, who was previously a research director at Hall & Partners.

It was these “intellectual tools” that so attracted YouGov. The US market, Shakespeare says, “really appreciates high quality research and analytics”.

US companies have also shown themselves to be more ready to adopt some of YouGov’s “real-time research” tools, like the brand intelligence service BrandIndex, which the company wants to see integrated into clients’ day-to-day management information systems.

“When we started BrandIndex in the UK some years ago, some clients would ask ‘why do I need daily feedback?’,” says Shakespeare. “That’s not something you’d hear in America – there’s a much more sophisticated attitude to the use of feedback in marketing programmes.”

However, the firm has had a tougher battle establishing itself in the media market, through which it built much of its profile in the UK.

“In marketing and market research, America is pioneering,” Shakespeare says, “but in the media it’s very conservative. They have been less willing to embrace online polling for example – but this is just starting to change.”

Two prominent newspapers have recently featured reports based on BrandIndex data while the firm performed admirably during congressional elections in October 2010.

Now firmly established as a player in the US market, Shakespeare says attention will shift away from acquisitions. “We’re definitely happy with what we have. The next job is to grow organically, to get our products more widely used and to develop a brand.”