This past June the ARF hosted their 13th Audience Measurement Conference, AudienceXScience, where media, research, and advertising professionals gathered to explore the challenges of audience measurement in our ever-evolving media environment. The two days were packed with innovations and conversations around the complexities of measuring the reach and impact of advertising.

Scott McDonald, Ph.D, President & CEO, ARF kicked off the conference with a mix of commendation and tough-love. He actively combatted the misconception that measurement is broken and cautioned against falling into the trap of despair and focusing only on the gaps.  He gave the group marching orders to actively participate in the next two days as optimistic and pragmatic problem solvers. Here are some key themes that emerged as we rolled-up our sleeves and got to work.

TV’s premium content gives advertisers more value, and more ways to make emotional connections with consumers.

Rather than relying on reach to assert its dominance in the media landscape, TV focused on the premium content it provides across a variety of platforms. TV’s storytelling excellence and ability to connect emotionally cannot be matched by non-premium digital video. As a result, the ad views tied to premium content have more value than those supposed “efficient” CPMs available on digital.

What does it mean to advertisers? Given that the strength of content will become a key component in effectively delivering advertising, the impact programming context has on advertising will become a more critical measure in evaluating the most effective advertising platforms.

As research companies work through cross-platform measurement challenges, self-report surveys continue to play a critical role in measuring ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend).

Included in the challenges cross-platform measurement faces is consistency or single currency: research providers have different ways to count views, to de-dupe viewers, and some focus on households rather than views. Self-report surveys emerged as an important component in understanding ROAS, given that they can be designed to provide consistent measures across platforms.

Researchers are sharing information in pursuit of the overarching goal to transparently provide advertisers with accurate information so that they can ultimately improve the impact of their marketing. This transparent cooperation is in stark contrast to the “walled garden” of digital platforms such as Google and Facebook, who measure their own service and as a result have been plagued with validity, fraud, and privacy issues.  

What does it mean to advertisers? Innovative internal cross-platform measures may need to be developed as stop-gap solutions while the industry evolves. As self-report continues to be used in evaluating ROAS, it is critical that researchers are vigilant in their continuing combat against fraud and invalidity.

Research about new and evolving advertising formats and platforms helps advertisers optimize their use.

6 Second Ads appear on TV at approximately the same rate as 60 second ads. While six seconds is enough time to get attention and communicate a brand, it is not long enough to tell a story. As a result, context plays a key role in the impactfulness of short-format spots, as does a recognizable brand presence.

Instagram Stories create more relevant brand connections than posts in the Instagram Feed, giving consumers what they perceive as an insider’s view of the brand. Bookending stories with brand presence, incorporating the brand within the story, and designing the story with communication objectives in mind all contribute to strong performance.

Online Influencers can generate the same level of attention and intensity as TV commercials, albeit on a longer timeframe. Trustworthy, authentic influencers can pass along value to a brand, provided the influencer, content, and platform align with brand strategy.

What does it mean to advertisers? A clear brand communications strategy that can be implemented across touchpoints is critical in effectively leveraging new platforms and formats, as well as legacy platforms.

Eldaa Daily, Research Director