The Resurgence Of... Research?

As the Advertising Research Foundation opens its 75th Anniversary Annual Convention this week, it is fitting to take another look at the discipline of research and measurement in the context of today's vastly changed MediaTech environment. And guess what? It's sexy. It's hot, it's where creative thinking is required and is being applied to address the issues vexing CMOs and their agencies all over town.

Really?

Our frame of reference, at least for most, has been that research is necessary, but boring and non-creative. Ask a successful brand manager or creative director where the insight comes from, amd you may get a different answer. Ask a leading media planner today how to make sense of the chaotic (fragmented doesn't cut it any more) media space, and you may get a different answer there also.

There is a saying that what gets measured gets done. The challenge today is not the lack of measurement, it's the lack of standardization of metrics and methodology -- and therefore the inability to integrate the too rapidly expanding channels and touchpoints. This is the great challenge, not just in research, but in marketing today. At a recent conference this challenge of integration was likened to "putting a man on the moon" by the respected head of research of a major broadcast network.

But put a man on the moon we did, and we will do again. With a program this week looking at everything from biometrics and neuromarketing to social influence and ROI, ARF is another of our trade associations bringing the issues forward and providing a forum for discussion and next-generation solutions.

We're so far removed from the days of check the ratings, make four phone calls and go to lunch, that it no longer has meaning, even if this was the way advertising worked for many years and many billions of dollars. Today we need to clarify our goals, and simplify the complexity of two-way, broadband, mobile, social, tablet, multiple OS, always on, data-based communications. We need to find the way forward by testing and measuring what works and how it works together.

We say we 're about problem solving in our industry. and over the years we've consistently done that. Who knew that the creative resources needed to tackle our biggest issues today might best be applied in that once sleepy discipline of research?

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