ARF Re!Think 2016 Pushes the Measurement Envelope

This year’s ARF Re!Think explored how advertising works. But I think it was much more about the metrics, methodology and measurement process behind the advertising. Speakers from a range of measurement companies and content providers offered new insights into what was working to prove media's efficiency at delivering the right audiences at the right time with the right amount of message.

The outlook on true cross platform measurement is rosy but there are still some challenges. Viewability and authentication of human viewing of ads are still issues, albeit ones that are receiving greater attention. Gayle Fuguitt, CEO of the ARF, is optimistic. She says that "Challenges we face today translate into opportunities. We at the ARF have quantified opportunities."

These opportunities are the result of a great effort by the ARF to define how advertising works. "We collected 40 industry leaders together, committed $1million investment on three studies over 5000 campaigns, twelve years of data, $375B in advertising spend in 41 countries across over 100 categories  in the areas of Cross platform ROI, improve creative and mobile mastery," Gayle explained. The result was five ground breaking insights. Advertisers need to invest across platforms, combine traditional and digital media, (which holds true for Millennials too), look to optimize digital by capping frequency and unifying creative, keeping in mind the unique characteristics of each platform to optimize performance.

Measuring Cross Platform
The ability to truly measure across platforms has been a goal for the industry for several years. After several painstaking efforts, solutions are now being released. One of the major companies in the space is Nielsen Media Measurement. Megan Clarken, President Product Leadership, Nielsen, outlined four main areas of achievement for their new Total audience cross platform measurement product.  The announced capabilities include the ability to measure audience usage and exposure across platforms, the ability to offer comparable measurement across the usage grid between linear and digital, the measurement of ads separate and distinctive from content and the inclusion of video, audio as well as text as part of the measurement.

Measuring Creative
Neuroscience is playing a greater role in ascertaining the successful impact of advertising. Companies such as Neuro-insight can measure the impact of advertising according to the brains reaction. One factor, the filing of the message into long term memory, is one the primary keys to a successful ad. And the retention in long term memory needs to occur for both the creative message and the brand itself for it to positively impact the viewer. Richard Silberman, Chairman of Neuro-Insight explained, "We have found that long term memory is one of the most powerful indicators of consumer behaviors, especially at the point of branding and the key message. This includes implicit and unconscious memory."

Measuring Mobile
Mobile has received a boost of research attention. Christopher Bacon, EVP, Research Quality and Innovation at the ARF, created a quality checklist for mobile measurement to insure compliance and quality data. He said, "Mobile has sped up the rate of change in research. We need to insure that the data quality is strong because the drop off factor is much higher on mobile than on other platforms and it takes more time to complete a survey on a mobile device.” His suggested rules for mobile measurement include:     

          Keep survey 10 minutes or less. In the survey world a 20 minute length is acceptable but on mobile, people are always multi-tasking. 

           Offer “thumb friendly” surveys that can easily be completed on a small device. 

          You may need to change the scale, presentation and question formats. Make sure the questionnaire loads quickly and is clear, legible and engaging.

           Evolve to a handheld consumer dialogue that uses typing, talking and video that work for on-the-go, in the moment responses.

With the continually changing media landscape of increasing choice and unique datasets, it is comforting to know that there are organizations like the ARF who continue to push the envelope on research solutions. And, after talking to a range of research executives at the conference, I also feel confident that traditional research has a bright future as it navigates through all of the change. Hear what those executives think about the future in this video:

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