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AM 3.0 Sets a New Research Agenda

July 7, 2008

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Conference co-chair Richard Marks of TNS looks back at highlights of the event.

Given its record attendance, it’s not surprising that AM 3.0 is still generating buzz, whether it is about the future of word-of-mouth marketing or Google’s new TV ads. The ARF audience measurement conference on June 24 and 25 attracted nearly 600 professionals, with a higher turnout than last year from the international research community.

“People were remarking that it’s not a cliché – it really is an interesting time to be in research,” said Richard Marks, global head of TNS Media Research and co-chair of the conference. “You can’t stand still for a moment. You’d almost be scared to go on holiday.”

We caught up with Richard for a look back at what made this conference so newsworthy.

ARF: AM 3.0 covered a tremendous amount of ground. Richard, what did you see as some of the key takeaways?

Richard: In the keynote speech on the first day, Jeffrey Cole, director of the USC Annenberg School Center for a Digital Future, started off a theme that quite a few speakers and panels returned to in different way. He said that TV would have an extremely healthy future. He referred to TV as your faithful friend. What he meant was that digital media really liberates television. Digital TV and digital programs can be seen on any device, whether it’s your iPod or portable TV. His point was that TV will become more accessible because of those portable devices.

Furthermore, with digital cable, advertisers will have the ability to target individual television viewers. So if you’re watching an episode of Lost, they can send different ads to you than to the person next door watching the same broadcast at the same time. You can be targeting ads based on people’s demographics. The advertising becomes more effective. The personalization and the ability to send addressable advertising to people will allow TV to remain a very persuasive medium, as Starcom’s Huntsville trial showed

ARF: Cross-media measurement was also a big topic. What concerns stood out for you?

Richard: The need for cross media measurement cropped up a lot, whether it was the advertisers who advertised across various media or the media owners who have content across different platforms. One panelist talked about the need for the equivalent of the “Euro” in terms of cross media metrics. The problem is a lot of these metrics don’t match up to each other.

ARF: Google’s presentation on Google TV Ads generated some heated questioning. What was behind it?

Richard: Google is coming into the industry as a technology company. The industry is excited but wanting reassurance that this system would be put forward to MRC accreditation and subject to the same transparency in the data that they’re used to be dealing with. It’s a learning experience for both the industry and Google.

ARF: Word-of-mouth marketing and social networking are clearly big concerns right now. What progress is being made on these fronts?

Richard: There was quite a lot of emphasis on the second day on word-of-mouth marketing and social networking. There’s a massive amount of interest. People understand the power social networks have in determining the success of the brand and the importance in monitoring that. People are also struggling to understand -- or finding their way to understanding -- how it works as a medium. It’s not a medium you can advertise in. Advertising is part of the mix that determines a brand’s success. There’s going to be a lot of talk in future months about word of mouth.

ARF: What does the industry need to do to follow up on the new developments mentioned at the conference?

Richard: We have to be thinking more about how new business models for conducting audience measurement will affect the future of research. Given the speed at which the media are moving, the research community needs to keep up.

I might add that, because of the number of concurrent sessions, many participants missed some of the panels they wanted to see. We’ll be sending out links to all of the conference papers and Key issue Forums in the next three weeks so that delegates can catch up. This conference is going to be the gift that keeps on giving.

More stories on AM 3.0

Audience Measurement, Day One: Catching up to the Changing Consumer
Audience Measurement, Day Two: Google Takes on TV Advertising
AM 3.0 Preview: The Closing of the “Couch Potato” Era?  
The End of Advertising?

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