Marketing and Research Consulting for a Brave New World
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(This is cross-posted from a blog I wrote for Greenbook.)

The ARF Rethink 2014 conference did a great job of capturing our marketing and research journey.  The keynote address on day one was actually an interview of one of the real 60s “mad men”: Keith Reinhard, Chairman Emeritus of DDB. Soledad O’Brien conducted the interview to artfully extract his view…of course we need research, but it was clear that his focus was on the creative spark that led to “…hear(ing) the bat hit the ball and you know it’s a home run.” So we started the conference with paying homage to ‘the great TV ad’, in a world of single-screen behaviors and little acknowledgement of the contribution of research.  It was a world where brand building was centered on the TV commercial, catching lightening in a bottle, and where there was no guarantee that success on one assignment would be reproduced on the next.

That was the past. But then, the ARF brought us into the present and near future.

At the conference we heard from Facebook how dominate mobile use is becoming to overall Facebook access and the need to link behaviors across screens for the same individuals via persistent log-in. They shared a factoid that 40% of people begin an activity on one screen and then complete it on another.

While we are in the digital age, at the same time, we saw evidence that it is also the golden age of television and in fact, digital might be TV’s best friend. Dave Poltrack of CBS shared three startling facts:

  1. TV viewing hours are NOT declining and linear TV is still, by far, the dominant behavior
  2. TV program audiences are NOT declining when you consider the full reach of a program across TV, social, digital, and mobile interactions
  3. There is a clear and conclusive correlation between program engagement and the effectiveness of advertising run on highly engaging programs.

The takeaways: advertisers can neither ignore the power of TV, nor take it in isolation of simultaneous second-screen behaviors and creatives need to realize how much tougher the challenge has become…to create ideas that work across screens to amplify and reinforce one another.

As media behaviors evolve in our digital, social, and mobile age, the marketing questions change that research must address while also arming research with tools it never had before.

The ARF showcased new possibilities for measurement from best in class work that leveraged big data.

We heard about the following data streams being leveraged for breakthrough insights:

  • Social media listening to naturally occurring conversations and vocabularies (Occulus 360)
  • The use of web-based micro-surveys to build a previously unheard of library of nearly 30,000 questions that offer the richest playground imaginable for using data science to mine for unexpected insights (CivicScience)
  • A new science was described and validated, “expectation science” that is the needed companion to “measurement science”. (CivicScience)
  • Bringing consumer segmentation to life not via focus groups but by creating prototypical digital behavior patterns (Brainjuicer’s Digividuals applied to Allstate segmentation)
  • The merging of massive databases of media behaviors, attitudes, purchase behaviors, media spend, etc. using anonymized matching and data fusion methods  (Nielsen, IRI, Comcast)
  • The power of asking questions to those whose digital behaviors are tracked to create a single source way of understanding path to purchase digital behaviors and motivations (Luth on behalf of Ford)
  • The challenges and opportunities of conducting research via smartphones.  AOL showed powerful evidence that smartphone research participation rates are lower, satisfaction with survey taking is lower, but data quality can be higher.
  • The continued need for the long-form survey against certain business questions…CBS conducting a 40 minute survey among 7,000 respondents, as part of a research program that included merging massive data sets together to understand the landscape of video viewing motivations and how program engagement affects advertising effectiveness

Ask yourself: do you have a data strategy to generate insights and measurement that leverages every one of these arrows in the quiver or are you still primarily in a traditional research mode? Are you working as hard to understand the sea changes in media consumption as you are to understand consumption of your brand?

In the next blog in this series, I will describe in more detail some of the emerging big data and data science-based solutions that were described at the ARF Rethink 2014 conference.

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