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A weekly round-up of the industry’s top stories and research curated by the ARF.

From The Journal of Advertising Research (JAR): Why Online Word-of-Mouth Measures Cannot Predict Brand Outcomes Offline

One of social media's key attractions to marketers and researchers has been the prospect of providing access to authentic conversations and opinions of consumers, as both a marketing channel and a research platform. Marketers have opportunities to amplify and measure consumer conversations on social media platforms, with an assumption that these conversations, in turn, will drive positive business outcomes.

Key questions remain top of mind:

  • Does the visible conversation happening in social media accurately reflect consumer conversations about brands more generally?
  • Is digital word of mouth a mirror onto the harder-to-measure conversation happening offline, through face-to-face conversation at home, at work, and during our social interactions with friends?
  • If consumer conversation is an iceberg, then social media is the visible “tip” above the ocean surface, whereas offline conversation is the largely invisible portion that lies beneath the surface. In this analogy, can the social media tip of the iceberg predict what is a much larger conversation happening in real life?

The answer to all three questions, according to a growing body of research in this area, is no.

In practice, marketers should assume the online and offline conversation channels work independently of each other, and they should formulate strategies and tactics optimized to the strengths of each. This is not to say that marketers who are successful in social media cannot apply lessons learned to offline conversation, and vice versa. One should not be treated as a substitute for the other, however.

Brad Fay and Rick Larkin. Why Online Word-of-Mouth Measures Cannot Predict Brand Outcomes Offline. Journal of Advertising Research.

To read the complete article, click to visit the Journal of Advertising Research.

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How people spend time on social platforms globally, in 5 charts

This infographic from Digiday provides five charts, e.g. globally, the apps with the highest number of active monthly; Facebook, Instagram and YouTube usage in the US by three demo breaks.

Jessica Davies. How people spend time on social platforms globally, in 5 charts. Digiday.

To read the complete article, click to visit Digiday.

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Original Research Presented at the ARF Shopper Insights Event

ARF EVP Chris Bacon says, “Everyone makes the pilgrimage to Bentonville, Arkansas, at least once in their career. The ARF made our second trip there on July 19 to host a Shopper Insight event dedicated to ‘The Untethered Shopper.’ Here are excerpts from two of the presentations:

From the Shopper Insights Event: Looking Ahead to the Voice Era
The modern living room experience features a multitude of connected devices, including significant innovation and adoption in the OTT and IoT landscape.


Massive growth in smartphone usage is paving the way for the voice era.

  • Smartphone usage has doubled in the past three years, and since 2014 it’s driven all of the growth in digital media time spent
  • Adoption of voice technology on smartphones has been steady, while many users have been relying on the technology for years

Smart speakers:

  • 8% of U.S. homes use a smart speaker: 9 out of 10 speakers are from Amazon
  • Americans are using smart speakers for a range of daily behaviors, with a small portion of these households using them to buy things
  • Most frequent usage: general questions, weather, streaming music, timers/alarms, reminders/to do, calendar, home automation
  • Smart speakers are already the #1 IoT (Internet of Tomorrow) category in the home, with more growth coming

Alison Robart, Director Client Insights, comScore. Measuring the Impact of IoT. TheARF.org.

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Leveraging Data to Win Viewers

In this era of hyper competition and digital connectedness, a new business model is emerging, one powered by data, with the consumer firmly at its center. Data has become M&E’s (Media & Entertainment) secret weapon for sustaining and improving consumer engagement and satisfaction.

Enter cognitive computing, which has the ability to examine the choices consumers are making, and under what circumstances, in order to understand and predict what consumers will want next. At IBM we view the most productive implementation of AI as a symbiosis of person and machine.

Two core domains are driving the application of machine learning. One is “audience” (customer or consumer) insight - reaching a new level of personalization by understanding their affinities, traits, likes, dislikes, and how they respond to media. The other is “content” insight - the enrichment of metadata and understanding what’s in the content to exploit it in new ways, in new formats and across new channels of distribution. Combine these, and M&E companies can apply cognitive insights to improve KPIs, including ad sales, content ultimates, productivity and efficiency, and margin growth.

AI is a positive disruption, one that demonstrates the art of the possible.

Steve Canepa is general manager, global telecommunications, media & entertainment industry, at IBM. Multichannel News

Steve Canepa. Leveraging Data to Win Viewers. Multichannel News.

To read the complete article, click to visit Mulitchannel News.

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Mobile Data Sets, Location Open New Opportunities for Campaign Effectiveness Across Platforms (Clear Channel Outdoor Americas)

In last week’s newsletter we featured the research, Getting OOH on your RADAR to Drive Growth, from the ARF Shopper Insights event in Bentonville.

To build on the conversation, this week we’re providing the article that accompanies the presentation.

Click to download: Mobile Data Sets, Location Open New Opportunities for Campaign Effectiveness Across Platforms by Dan Levi, EVP & CMO, Clear Channel Outdoor Americas.

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From the Shopper Insights Event: Mobile Data Sets, Location Opens New Opportunities for Campaign Effectiveness Across Platforms

As advertisers rely more and more on mobile data from the digital world to understand the offline behaviors of consumers in the physical world, it’s incumbent upon Out-of-Home (OOH) media companies to provide a deep understanding of consumer mobility and the rapidly evolving relationships between brands and consumers.

Imagine a city, and the roads that surround and intersect. As consumers go about their daily journey, mobile data helps us understand their travel patterns—from home to work and back again, where they shop, where they spend leisure time, and more. Analysis of this data in aggregate allows us to form audience segments based on where people go and the behaviors these audiences share.

Within a geographic location, the best way to connect with each audience segment organically defines itself through understanding those travel patterns relative to the physical locations of the OOH media they pass along the journey. This enables a brand to smart-target campaigns based on the OOH media that over-indexes for the unique consumer segments they wish to reach.

We see a future of greater synchronization of data sets supporting cross-platform planning, and a deeper understanding of OOH’s unique value in building brands and influencing consumer behavior.

Dan Levi, EVP & CMO, Clear Channel Outdoor. Getting OOH on Your Radar to Drive Growth. TheARF.org.

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Ads Are Shifting from Aspirational to Honest in Their Portrayal of Parenting

Babies R Us, Kraft Mac & Cheese and Yoplait are going for realism.

Brands are shifting away from aspirational messages with an idealized vision of family and instead infusing campaigns with moments of realism—showing moms who curse, a dad who accidentally destroys a bouncy castle, parents who forget things—because that’s exactly what Millennials want to see from brands. According to exclusive research from BabyCenter, 66 percent of millennial moms say it’s important for brands to realistically portray parenting

According to Meredith Hirt, insights writer for youth research firm Cassandra, “Rather than striving to be the perfect parent, at least half of Generation Y parents in the U.S. [55 percent] and U.K. [50 percent] say they are open about their parenting mishaps and challenges. More than four in 10 in both the U.S. and U.K. say they feel better about themselves as a parent when other parents admit to their own parenting mishaps and challenges. Thus, they want brands to provide honest marketing campaigns with relatable portrayals of the challenges of parenting, as well as moments that show more performative parenting to provide humor.”

Allen Adamson, a longtime brand consultant and the founder of Brand Simple Consulting, also believes the demands for brands to come up with honest, realistic messaging are more intense now. There is no one size fits all anymore. You live in a unique world where everyone has a unique story, and Millennials expect you to talk to them, not some abstract representation of their parents.”

Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.

Kristina Monllos. Ads Are Shifting from Aspirational to Honest in Their Portrayal of Parenting. Adweek.

To read the complete article, click to visit Adweek.

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ARF CEO McDonald on 5 Things I Know About Marketing

This is an abridged version and is courtesy of MSI, Marketing Science Institute.

1. Brand equity is hard to build and hard to shift—except in a negative direction.
Brand equity is a deep repository of consumer thoughts and feelings, built up in very slow accretions. This is a laborious process, accomplished through communication and advertising and, most importantly, by delivering on your product promise.

2. For the most part, people are not paying attention to us, to our advertising messages, and to our brands.
Marketers often live inside their own brand bubble, imagining that consumers are paying much closer attention than, in fact, they are. At best, people are paying partial attention. Rarely do we have their full attention. Particularly now, when there are so many commercial messages and people are multitasking and distracted.

3. We tend to exaggerate how predictable people are.
As marketers, we have a bias toward believing that people behave in rational ways. We analyze the return on investment for each component of a marketing plan, we try to estimate what drives sales, and we use sophisticated algorithms, but the reality of how people behave is often random and even accidental.

4. Our love of targeting technologies should not become “blind love.”
We’ve tended to treat the customer in a hostile way. We use militarized language to talk about what we do: ad campaigns and targets, ambushes and screen takeovers. Digital tracking simply allows this military metaphor to extend to a newer and deeper level. It is becoming hard to distinguish this type of marketing from surveillance, and it’s provoking a considerable amount of pushback from some consumers and governments.

5. Cross-platform advertising should have a unified look, feel, and theme, but the creative units should be adapted to the platform.
Every time you try to bring a marketing message in, you really should put yourself in the shoes of the consumer. You need to understand the creative dynamics and the context in which the message will be received.

Scott McDonald. 5 Things I Know About Marketing. MSI, Marketing Science Institute.

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Understanding the Role of Data in Television Marketing

The TV ecosystem will incrementally slip into the data space, catalyzed by new distribution platforms, new content consumption behaviors, new targeting capabilities, new analytics-driven intelligence, and maturing automated buying. Despite the foreignness of the language, and the near-overwhelming plethora of acronyms, we do not all have to instantly metamorphosize into data scientists.

To get started, we can start littering our conversations with the following commonly used nomenclature; some terms may be more familiar than others.

Here are 2 of the 10:

PII – Before any data onboarding or matching can occur, the handling of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is critical. PII is a highly sensitive issue in information security, as well as privacy laws. PII is information that can be used to identify, distinguish, or locate a single person, or to pinpoint an individual in context (both behavioral or to differentiate one person from another). PIIs can take the form of first/last name and postal address, email address, or (unhashed) customer ID.

Data matching: deterministic/probabilistic – Data matching can be either deterministic or probabilistic. Deterministic matching performs comparisons based on given factors and weighing calculations on two data records to determine a precise match. It then generates a score for whether the data records match. In contrast, probabilistic matching takes into account the relative closeness of the data and the context of the data records, and then assigns each of the identifiers a weighted score for the likelihood that the data records match. This is considered a “fuzzier” methodology.

Boon Yap, VP, product and partnerships, Standard Media Index (SMI). Industry Voices—Understanding the  Role of Data in Television Marketing. FierceCable.

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