Observations from the 2014 Advertising Research Foundation Convention

14 Apr 2014|Added Value

Every year, market research, advertising, and brand executives meet in New York for the Advertising Research Foundation’s major conference. This year’s conference covered a lot of ground, with over 50 presentations from a huge mix of industry leaders. From this year’s conference, there were a few learnings that felt particularly impactful:

1. It’s time to take another look at neuroscience

Horst Stipp, the ARF’s EVP of Research and Innovation, made a big plea to the audience to reconsider neuroscientific tools (facial coding, eye tracking, EKG, etc.) for helping with ad research. The technology, methods and pricing have improved since these tools were first launched a few years ago. Plus – more importantly – there is clear proof that the predictive power of an ad’s effectiveness is enhanced when neurological and traditional measures are combined. Traditional tools shouldn’t be thrown out the door – they are necessary to learn important things that can’t be gleaned from the neuro learning (e.g., Will people know who the ad is for? Are people taking away what you want them to? Is the ad having the desired impact in changing/reinforcing impressions of, and feelings tied to, the product/brand experience?). But, the science of insight and marketing continues to get more fascinating, and it is time for neuro be reconsidered as a key component in unlocking your advertising’s success.

We’ve had neuroscientific thinking baked into our copytesting technique for about 10 years and are regularly partnering with facial coding company Affectiva, so this emphasis on neuroscience is very exciting to me and I look forward to seeing brands and agencies giving more focus to neuro tools for communications testing.

2. There’s an abundance of proof that cross channel marketing is very successful

Many companies came to the conference with news at hand about the proven effectiveness of cross channel marketing. Kantar Media’s fun presentation displayed the reasons content goes viral, ultimately concluding that your social currency (what people are going to think of you) is the most important reason to share. EA’s presentation focused on how gamers appreciate value exchange (VE) advertising in games (getting something of value in return for engaging with an ad) and even spend more money in-game after seeing VE ads. Twitter also had some presentations that really stood out – they have proven that running Twitter paid media concurrent with TV drives advertising effectiveness and sales, and that their earned audiences take both online and offline actions on behalf of brands. Just days after coming back from the conference, I was thrilled to see that Kantar is helping to lead the way in understanding cross channel effectiveness by deepening its partnership with Twitter to develop new research tools that measure the effectiveness of ads, glean consumer insights, and gauge brand performance. In this new world, it is imperative that we understand our client’s campaigns from a cross channel perspective and be on the forefront of creating innovative tools for helping companies understand their performance across media channels.

3. Copytesting is more important than ever

As someone who has done copytesting for over 20 years I was especially excited about all of the positive news about the importance of copytesting. Research from IPSOS and ComScore pointed towards the importance of creative testing, showing that the quality of a creative is 4 – 5 times more significant than its channel choice at impacting advertising ROI. Frito Lay spoke about their move away from just relying on co-creation for their Doritos advertising, to a more research based ad testing program with Millward Brown. A huge highlight for me was seeing AT&T present research that Added Value was involved in, in particular how we combined copytesting results with other big data to assess which creative elements are most important for their wireless advertising. It was great to see so many validations of smart copytesting.

4. If Susan Cain has it her way, Introverts will be the next social revolution

Susan Cain, author of the New York Times bestselling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking spoke about the large percentage of introverts in the population (one-third to one-half of us are introverts) and pointed out that many successful introverts lead the world’s biggest companies. She’s started a social movement (the Quiet Revolution) to help introverts own their specialness, and hopes that workplaces can work harder to create environments allowing introverts to be their authentic selves. Specific workplace suggestions included encouraging prominent introverts to talk publically about their quiet side, cheering solo time for recharging, and offering opportunities for people to prepare ideas before meetings – all ways to get the best out of the introverts at your company.

5. Stories still trump numbers

After seeing so many presentations in a short period of time, the importance of storytelling and simplicity in research presentations continued to hit home. The best presentations only showed a few numbers and the presenters were compelling storytellers. Even one of the guest presenters (Paul Grieco of Hearth and Terrior Wine Bars) spoke about the importance of storytelling to create engagement – in a twist for his industry, his wine menus contain stories about his wines rather than just the names and prices, which has become one of the keys to his success. As researchers, we always need to be focusing on the most impactful and clear way to bring the research story to life for our clients.

For more information or to continue the conversation, please contact Jennifer Fox, SVP Added Value and head of Added Value’s Copytesting practice at jennifer.fox@added-value.com.

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