ARF Conference Tackles TV, Encourages Innovation

Now in its 13th year, last week's ARF conference held delivered insightful findings about ad/media performance, plus how to “better” drive brand equity and revenues via various media channels and/or the media mix cross-platform.  

Some in the industry have suggested that “media measurement is broken,” since it's failed to keep up with the complexities of the ever-changing media environment, notably in the digital space. Truly common currencies across media platforms are still a fundamental issue.

However, in his opening remarks, Dr. Scott McDonald, President-CEO, ARF, pointed to the “encouraging” work being done to establish “best practices” guidelines in this arena, along with innovations made worldwide.  

The best and latest work in audience measurement is always explored at this event. To that end, and in view of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica debacle, McDonald reported that the ARF research team had drafted a preliminary “Code of Ethical Research Conduct.”  It is expected to be released shortly for extended industry review and refinement, which will likely coincide with the release of the UK Privacy’s Commission's findings about Cambridge Analytica.



Some stimulating positions from the speakers:

Linda Yacarrino, NBC Universal: “TV campaigns provide immediacy of scale and can address the brand/category long tail.”  Regarding some of the major digital data channels: “Grading your own homework and its associated lack of transparency with measurements is unacceptable in today’s marketing world. Full-on all-screen video measurement to transact and understand campaigns based on a common currency are needed for 2019.”

Lyle Schwartz, Group M North America: “Research is far more important than it ever was before, but is of less value than it was. We need more information not data. Data endowed with meaning provides insights. Devise agnostic cross platform measurement may be asking too much of the industry.”  

Professor Tim Wu, Columbia Law School: Professor Wu has been wrestling with two key questions: “At what point does the government step in? What is the public harm in the collection of big data?” He identified six cornerstones that need to be assessed in juxtaposition with the EU’s GDPR – General Data Privacy Regulation:

  1. Transparency

  2. Lack of consent

  3. Deception

  4. Ownership rights

  5. Violation of fiduciary duties

  6. Actual theft

Some selected presentation highlights:  

SevenOne Media from Germany in their presentation “Video Impact” showed that TV beats online substantially,, based on an array of brand measures most notably ROI. The findings were based on a tightly controlled “apples-to-apples” comparison of a pure TV versus a matching pure on-line campaign in matched markets. It used the same creative, duration, weight, etc. for each of two different CPG products and the same broad targets for each of the brands studied.  

What was the bottom-line for this research? “Reach of all potential brand buyers is crucial for brand growth.” It was suggested that TV outperformed online, due to the reach of TV to buyers or potential buyers beyond the defined target group and to the relative impact of a brand message on TV. Its final media planning conclusion: “TV should not be substituted 1 to 1 by on-line video.” It must be noted that SevenOne Media is a German TV channel; however, the quality of the research appeared solid.

Rachel Kennedy, the Ehrenberg Bass Institute, squared off with Dr. Leslie Wood, Nielsen Catalina, regarding “Building Brands: Heavy buyers or non-buyers?”  Their intriguing presentation findings were based on intricate analyses of a massive multifaceted database involving attributes from many major brands of cooperating large CPG companies.  

They agreed to disagree regarding the relative value of heavy buyers (highest response naturally) versus the loyal but volatile light buyers whether for the brand of the category. Similar to Seven One Media, they did concur that brands grow by reaching all sorts of buyer definitions using “creative that resonates” and that minimizing reach of rejecters or non-category users is ideal.  Their joint conclusions, which they will continue to refine as the complex massive analyses continue:

  1. Non-responders are waste.

  2. Most brand buyers are light.

  3. Advertise to responders (perhaps best described as “persuadables”).

  4. Heavy buyer “may” be a good starting point.

  5. Brand equity, creative, media mix, etc. all effect sales for each targeting option.  

The ARF Cross-Measurement Council has taken on establishing guidelines to produce consistent comparable measurement and metrics for cross-platform campaigns (currently only video platforms).  Regrettably, it appears the industry is wrestling with a Gordian knot on this objective.

Each of the six major companies presenting underlined, perhaps inadvertently, just how very different their measurement approaches, measurements and even their underlying definitions of final “supposedly” common metrics currently are. There appeared to be confusion between the definitions of traffic, impressions, audience and ad impressions, along with the fundamental differences regarding duration, household versus persons, etc.

It was generally agreed that viewability is one of the keys to compliance to cross-platform metrics standards.  However, as was crystal clear in the later presentation on Best Practices regarding six-second TV spots, viewability should not be confused with ”eyes-on” an entirely different and higher quality metric. Duration weighted ad impressions being explored by MRC is going to be problematic. 

CBS' David Poltrack and Dr. Radha Subramanyam underlined the fundamental value of TV in  “Reach and Frequency Balance:  How to get it Right in the World of Advanced Television.”

Their learnings came from a detailed meta-analysis of SimulMedia TV campaign data – essentially a campaign audit across many brands. Echoing remarks by Mark Pritchard of P&G, they re-introduced the vital importance of examining a campaign’s frequency distribution to understand how to convert “excess frequency,” probably anything over three to seven in a week, into reach.  

Their findings clearly underlined the principles espoused by the late Erwin Ephron: Maximize weekly reach and embrace message propinquity – the recency principle in order to maximize media investment via a unique tested creative message.  

A potentially far-reaching presentation, “How to Use 6’s” by Paul Donato, ARF CRO and Dan Schiffman, TVision Insights, based on extensive eye-tracking research, was noted in MediaPost.

One additional serious industry issue evolving from this research is that we should never confuse “attention,” based on an “eyes-on” measurement, with “impact,” an entirely higher order of measurement.  

As these findings were based on “eyes-on,” which can surely be properly described as “viewing” as well as “attention,” why is the term “viewing” misrepresented so often in media measurement? There is no measurement of eyes-on and merely some tuning/signal access measurement.  

All the presentations will be posted on the ARF web site.  

2 comments about "ARF Conference Tackles TV, Encourages Innovation".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 19, 2018 at 9:35 a.m.

    Good report, Tony. Thanks.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, June 25, 2018 at 7:31 p.m.

    Music to my ears Tony.   Thanks for the summary.   I'll have a chat to a few of the Aussies that I know were there.

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