The Shift in the Data Discussion … Or Not? Questions From The ARF Measurement Conference

The annual ARF measurement conference is a time where researchers from across the media spectrum can gather, present and exchange their groundbreaking insights. As with previous years, one could walk away with a fuller understanding of the ongoing challenges our industry faces and acquire some actionable insights to help overcome them. And yet, this year was a little different in that the measuring of the creative, the sequencing of ad messages across platforms and applying neuroscience standards were also hot topics in addition to data. 

As with predicting the path of any changing environment, I came away with more questions. Here are some:

Demos Targets Are So Yesterday. Or Are They?
Instead of relying on demographic targets, why not use People Based Targeting segmentations? Dave Morgan, Founder/CEO Simulmedia, posed a provocative question and call to action, “Why are we sticking to inherently wrong protocols? We have to press the industry to do better.” Morgan then asked, “Have we started to make change?” Some, like David Poltrack, Chief Research Officer, CBS Corporation and President of CBS VISION, believes there is progress but it is slow.  “I think we are,” he said, “Look at the past year. There has been more progress in past 12 months than in past 12 years. But,” he cautioned, “We are not at the implementation stage yet. Advertisers are more comfortable about it than the agencies. It requires more manpower and systems need to change. This upfront people are doing the analysis and the learning and informing their buying. But the marketplace is still transacting on traditional data. The market is still demographically driven."

Could Reach Become the Measurement Standard?
If we start to move from age and gender proxy metrics, is there a way to either standardize segments or offer another standardize-able measurement? I believe that it will be very difficult to agree on standard segments which may even defeat the purpose of segmented targeting to one’s niche and unique consumer target. So agreeing on another, more standardize-able metric might be the solution. One suggestion was Reach, possibly Average Daily Reach which takes into account recency. According to Bill Harvey, CEO of Bill Harvey Consulting, recency is critical for the ad message to be more effective. “Advertising has most pronounced effect in first 48 hours,” he explained, “and average daily reach is the most critical test of recency.” Quoting the late Erwin Ephron, Harvey then advised, “plan and buy for continuous short term reach,” and concludes, “We as an industry should be looking at daily reach.”

Can You Measure and Push Creative Across Platforms Using Brain Activity Data?
Dr. Manuel Garcia-Garcia, SVP Research and Innovation: Global and Ad Effectiveness at the ARF, offered insights concerning the measurement of creative and how it should best be fed through the advertising funnel.  His neuroscience based insights include:
Ø  Customize creative for the specific platform. “You can amplify consumer engagement if you customize your creative for the specific platform and don't just repurpose creative,” he explained.
Ø  Two platforms are better than one. It increases percent purchase intent by 36%.
Ø  In terms of sequencing the messaging, generally start with TV. “We measure engagement through skin conductor response,” Garcia-Garcia said, “And if you start with digital, then go to TV, there will be less TV impact. But if you feed you ad in mobile before TV, that equals higher memory according to the neuroscience.”
Ø  TV messaging that is preceded by a different platform tends to get higher brand consideration.
Ø  A TV ad that explained product or service benefits resulted in higher purchase intent.
Ø  In adding digital to a TV raised brand consideration up three times.
Ø  Creative strategy is key to optimizing impact. “Do mobile first if the execution is customized to mobile,” Garcia-Garcia recommended, “But if your campaign is not there yet, start with TV when creative is being repurposed or is not unified.”
Ø  Finally, the “Platform does not determine strategy,” he warned, “Strategy should determine the platform.”

Which Way Forward?
Gayle Fuguitt, CEO and President of the ARF, energized the attendees with a call to action. “The time is now!” she exclaimed. “What are needed are fearless leaders to step up and not be afraid to ask the hard questions.” Much of what was presented at this year’s ARF Measurement Conference gives us lots of hard questions to ask. Let’s now resolve to work together to solve for the answers.

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