McConnell's appointment is part of a restructuring of the ARF that includes the recent ouster of Chief Research Officer Joel Rubinson. The ARF also named former IBM executive Todd Powers as its new Chief Research Officer, and recently recruited long-time media research maven David Marans as executive vice president-media.
William Cook has also rejoined the ARF as executive vice president-research & standards, following a two-year sabbatical.
ARF President-CEO Bob Barocci called the recruitment of McConnell a "coup," and said it would help accelerate the ARF's push to integrate digital measurement into marketing, and the role of research in digital marketing.
While some have criticized the ARF for shifting too much in the direction of digital issues, at the cost of other key marketing and media research subjects, in recent years, and especially it's close association with sponsors such as Microsoft, Yahoo and Google, McConnell noted that "measurement drives digital marketing."
That said, he added, "but measurement should endeavor to correlate the quality of attention, and the quality of context - not just impressions. We also need to examine the balance between standards and proprietary methods and data if we are going for breakthrough, and I think we need to find ways to integrate behavioral segments and "sense and respond" loops into broader planning approaches."