ARF Re!Think 2016 Pushes Measurement Envelope

While this year’s Advertising Research Foundation Re!Think conference explored how advertising works, I think it was much more about the 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, was optimistic, noting that “We at the ARF have quantified opportunities” with a “$1million investment on three studies over 5,000 campaigns, twelve years of data, $375B in advertising spend in 41 countries across over 100 categories  in the areas of coss-platform ROI, improve creative and mobile mastery.”



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.

Megan Clarken, president of product leadership, Nielsen, outlined four main areas of achievement for the company’s new total audience cross platform measurement product: the ability to measure audience usage and exposure across platforms; to offer comparable measurement across the usage grid between linear and digital; to measure ads separately from content; and to include video and 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. Viewers need to retain both the creative message and the brand itself in long term-memory for a successful ad, 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," he said.

Measuring Mobile

"Mobile has sped up the rate of change in research," said Christopher Bacon, EVP, research quality and innovation at the ARF. Still, “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.Usually a 20-minute length is acceptable but on mobile, people are always multitasking.
— Offer “thumb-friendly” surveys that can easily be completed on a small device.
— Make sure the questionnaire loads quickly and is clear, legible and engaging.
— Evolve to a handheld consumer dialogue that uses typing, talking and video for on-the-go 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 that 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.
4 comments about "ARF Re!Think 2016 Pushes Measurement Envelope".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 21, 2016 at 4:31 p.m.

    What is worrysome to me is the evident determination to "measure" ad "audiences across platforms in a uniform and, probably, an electronic manner. If this goal is pursued, it may lead to a total reliance on device usage measures like the ad is on the user's screen, hence it must be "viewed", which, while creating the illusion of comparability, actually misrepresents the true situation and does so unequally for various media.

  2. Charlene Weisler from Writer, Media Consultant:, March 21, 2016 at 5:26 p.m.

    Hi Ed,
    Thank your ofr your comment. My feeling is that advertisers and content providers want to be sure that they are reaching / delivering on target and the only way is to look at the media purchase cross platform in as best a comparable method as possible. I agree that viewer usage differs but then perhaps a metric can be created that takes that into account? There are those who are trying to create engagement metrics, or apply some form of call-to-action measurement and maybe that is the best measurement. But it is still the Wild West in terms of approaches. And then you add in programmatic....

  3. John Grono from GAP Research, April 4, 2016 at 8:03 a.m.

    Ed, while I understand your concerm, I keep coming back to 'whose responsibility is the ad?'.

    A network, a magazine, a billboard, a website, a cinema, a newspaper ... any medium ... does its best with the finances available to attract (and hold) as big and as valuable audience as possible.   And each of these media have their own intrinsic strengths and weaknesses when it comes to advertising.   That is, not all impressions will be/are equal.

    We then come along and insert ads - all of variable interest and quality.   The media owner has no control over that element.   Further, while it is the media owners responsibility to measure the audience to their content, should they also be required to spend additional funds on measuring advertising content that is not their own and which they have no control over.   I'd say that is money best put into commissioning and creating better content to attract even larger and more loyal audiences.

    Regarding cross-media advertising effectiveness (as opposed to individual ads) that really needs to be the responsibility of the advertisers (and/or their agencies).   Of course each medium should financially contribute/subscribe, but it should be conducted under the auspices of the peak advertisers/agencies body.


  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, April 4, 2016 at 8:42 a.m.

    John, my basic point about what metric to use regarding "audience delivery" concerns the validity and comparability of the measurements across platforms. If we allow ourselves to accept device usage, not "viewing" as the "currency"  for ad sales, we are not setting up the level playing field that is imagined and in great demand. This is why I tend to favor program content indicators, not "ad exposure"  tallies as the latter are, at this point, going to be very misleading and not equally so from one platform to the other.

    I agree with you that ad impact is the advertiser's responsibility not the ad seller's, but since the latter are selling "audience" I believe that it is safer at this point to let it rest at that---namely the audience that the seller's content attracts, not the audience of each ad. I believe that we do not have a way to ascertain ad audiences reliably even though we continue to accept the fiction that we already have such data for national TV, via Nielsen. We don't.

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