Insights from the Advertising Research Foundation Re:Think Conference

Posted by Maira Grylli, Analyst, Analytics & Technology

Recently, I attended the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) Re:Think Conference in New York City.  This post includes key insights from the conference that are directly impacting—or will soon impact—the performance marketing space.  In particular, I will focus on Measurement, Cross-Channel and Participant Insights.

Paul Grieco, sommelier and owner of Hearth and Terroir wine bars, started his Re:Think speech by saying that “service” is a monologue, while “hospitality” is a dialogue. We, advertisers and marketers, are in the “hospitality” business. We are not here to serve customers on a one-way basis.  We are here to empower them, enhance dialogues and elevate participation, much like Performics Global CEO Daina Middleton advocates in her latest book, Marketing in the Participation Age.

Re:Think was very much about how marketers can better empower customers.  The conference had three distinct themes: rethinking consumer engagement, rethinking creative and rethinking career skills.  Over three days, attendees had the opportunity to discover new research and products to better empower and engage participants across platforms. We were able to better understand key industry drivers, like measurement, cross-platform integration and how to better leverage participant insights.

Measurement

Stephen Rappaport, Senior Consultant at Stephen D. Rappaport Consulting LLC, shared insights from his new book, The Digital Metrics Field Guide: The Definitive Reference for Brands Using the Web, Social Media, Mobile Media, or Email.  The book helps digital professionals better understand metrics in order to use them more effectively. His quote “optimize to your objectives, not to the platform metrics” concisely summarizes the best way to design measurement strategies: focus on metrics that measure goals and give insight into your business and customers’ perspectives.

With measurement, the question that always arises is, “How can we measure viewable impressions, and how can we give the correct credit?” During the conference, attendees were able to learn more about a new tool developed by Google and comScore called “Validated Campaign Essentials.”  This new tool provides unduplicated accounting of impressions delivered across a variety of dimensions, such as ads delivered in-view, in the right geography, in a brand-safe environment and absent of non-human traffic. It also evaluates the degree to which validated impressions reach a campaign’s target audience. Hence, it can provide advertisers with a better understanding as to the audience that the advertiser’s ads are reaching, giving us more transparent insights into efficiencies.

Cross-Platform IntegrationMulti screen

During the conference, Artie Bulgrin, SVP of Research and Analytics at ESPN, gave the latest Project Blueprint update since June 2013 at Audience Measurement 8.0.  Project Blueprint measures duplication across five platforms (TV, radio, PC, smartphone and tablet). This new, cross-platform data gives advertisers the ability to:

  • Get detail at program- or event-level
  • See how multiplatform usage emerges over time
  • Understand how the combination of platforms changes throughout the day
  • Visualize that the more platforms used, the more time is spent with content

Participant Insights

Thought leadership manager for Global Consumer Insights at Microsoft, Ivy Esquero, described how marketers can pivot to consumer needs to provide content across devices. She explained that participants engage in a multi-screen world following four pathways.  She outlined how advertisers can engage participants in each pathway:

  1. Multitasking: Participants require quick, low-effort engagement opportunities
  2. Investigative: Participants want depth; they need compelling and original content
  3. Social: Participants need to be part of a community and engage in conversations
  4. Intent: Participants require seamless movement across screens

Judit Nagy, VP Digital Analytics at FOX Broadcasting, and Anjali Midha, Head of Research East at Twitter, also presented some compelling participant insights.  They revealed research findings on TV and Twitter, including:

  • 90% of those exposed to TV show-related tweets take action: watch, search or share content
  • TV tweets influence TV viewing and choice of shows
  • TV ads placed in a highly social show are 7% more effective
  • 51% of U.S. TV viewers notice hashtags on the screen; on-air hashtags drive more brand conversations than TV ads
  • 76% of people exposed to TV tweets search online to learn more

In media they say that “content is the king,” but Anjali Midha noted that with Twitter and TV, it seems as if “curiosity is the king.” Other interesting participant insights came from Shawn Baron from Undertone, Caryn Brouwer from Ipsos ASI and Amaya Garbayo from the Kellogg Company, who spoke about their findings on large canvas display ads:high impact

  • High impact ads break through the clutter—full screen interactive, skins/wraps and large canvas achieve higher unaided brand recall than standard display ads
  • Participants enjoy high-impact ads. Entertainment and educational value outweigh the interruption.

Lastly, Re:Think tackled the privacy issue. Diane Hessen, CEO at Communispace, found that 86% of respondents in her research would click on a “do not track” button.  Internet users find highly targeted ads “annoying” and “creepy.” What does this mean for digital marketers?  Diane Hessen believes that brands need to “become part of the discovery journey, not just offer to buy.”

The conference is best summarized in the words of Erwin Ephron, an important ARF figure who developed and championed media planning theory.   Ephron once said, “Media is first an audience gatherer, then an ad engagement gate-keeper. It can assist engagement by attracting an audience suited to the message and by keeping them attentive … or not.”

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