Census, Radio Take Center Stage At ARF Audience Science Conference

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, September 22, 2020

Day 1 of the ARF’s virtual AudienceXScience Conference underlined and polished several fundamentals of the research, media, and ad businesses.  

The 2020 Census, the most complex, complete and privacy-compliant survey executed in the U.S. is solid, according to its COO, Ron Jarmin. It will, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and various catastrophes, will achieve 95% eligible completes.

The Census is unquestionably the most fundamental and critical survey in providing a population profile anchor to U.S. entities in every category imaginable.

The pandemic required massive operational changes, as well as an updated ad campaign -- “Shape Your Future” -- to motivate response, reassure safety concerns, privacy, and confirm the importance of its overall mission to everyone.   



In the ARF’s “Connected Cars” session, Sasha Wolfe, head of media at Taco Bell, demonstrated that audio/radio advertising works and can be made more effective.

Initial research findings indicated over-indexed radio dayparts, notably mid-day and certain format preferences. They are based on the cooperation and “connected car” data from an unexpected partnership with General Motors, plus geofencing local locations. GM claims to have 50% of 4G LTE-enabled vehicles on the road.  

Using demos, ad logs, and categorizing driving and listening -- actually hearing -- behaviors, radio plans can be refined, including reach and frequency, and tuned to enhance store visits or to other desired campaign effects.

Creative modes could also be analyzed against their desired effects.  While just based on a pilot study in Columbus, Ohio, this research clearly offers audio platforms, as well as advertisers and their agencies, a way to “navigate” their way around the antediluvian diary measurement for radio, at least for the local driving segment.

The approach springboards from the Naviguage in-car audio studies of 2005, which the presenters appeared to be unaware of, and which offered groundbreaking insights for radio station’s programming and commercial scheduling.  

Last year’s ARF audience science conference presentation by DDB London’s Les Binet, and based on his seminal report, “Effectiveness in Context,” emphasized the importance of long-term branding campaigns encompassing broad, high reach, because they consistently generate more memorable impact among other key brand attributes.

Abby Mehta, senior vice president of Bank of America, took that presentation to heart and embarked on an extremely difficult longitudinal tracking study of customers at the respondent-level, which was fully privacy compliant.  

Her presentation, “Why Driving a Strong Brand Still Matters,” examined how perceptions and attitudes towards the BoA brand related to customers’ banking decisions and therefore, to business outcomes.

In a world where there is a clear lack of confidence in the competence and ethics of companies, the saying, “people will buy from people they trust,” appeared to be key to building brand equity.  

Underpinning that concept are opportunities for companies to genuinely address environmental, social, and even government issues.

The tracking study unequivocally indicated that those customers with the lowest brand perceptions had the lowest revenues and highest attrition rates.

Consequently, building the brand via key issue strategies to drive “value” to BoA customers’ lives offered the power to make a difference for all parties in the most mutually beneficial manner.  

This ARF Conference continues Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

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