Measuring the ROI of Marketing: A/B Tests vs. Market-Mix Models vs. Multi-Touch Attribution

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from a Forbes article written by ARF President & CEO Scott McDonald. The full article can be read using the link below the summary.

Some marketers have despaired of ever being able to connect a sales impact to a specific and unique element of complex and multi-faced marketing plans – preferring instead to use their “gut” to guide marketing decisions and to rely on anecdote or vanity metrics to justify the results. However, in our era of data-driven marketing, this “know-nothing” approach has become increasingly untenable as CFOs and CEOs demand more exacting demonstrations of marketing ROI.

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TV Advertising Has a Marketing Problem

Editor’s Note: This MediaPost commentary, from Simulmedia CEO, Dave Morgan, generated a significant number of responses – these, and the full article, can be read using the link at the bottom of this piece.

Industry people find it incomprehensible when I tell them that “Judge Judy” delivers more audience advertising minutes every day than all of the videos on all of YouTube across all of America all day. Why are they so surprised? More than 10 million people on average watch “Judge Judy” during every minute in the show, including the eight or so minutes of ads shown each half hour. Plus, “Judge Judy” isn’t alone. “Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy” and “Family Feud” deliver similar numbers day in and day out.

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How Many People Did That Story Reach? It Depends Who’s Counting

Publishers say they’re not getting credit for the audiences they’re reaching with social media videos.

As digital publishers bet big on video in search of advertising riches, many believe that a traditional method of media measurement isn’t keeping up.

Publishers have long used “unique visitors” as a benchmark to compare the size of their website audiences and lure advertisers. But some media companies say the metric has become somewhat outmoded in an era when content is being disseminated widely on social media and other platforms. Publishers publish video content directly on services such as Facebook and Instagram to capitalize on the massive scale and reach of those platforms. Since audiences for these videos don’t always visit publishers’ websites, they are not captured in unique visitor figures.
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Most Popular Super Bowl Ads Over 30 Years

The Ad Meter has been an annual industry barometer that measures public opinion on Super Bowl commercials. The poll has been sponsored and published for decades by USA Today Networks. The table below ranks the brands that have had the highest overall score over the past three decades (minimum 10 Super Bowl ads – and those listed all enjoy high scores). Pepsi and Nike have ranked the highest overall.


Fischer, S. (2018, January 30). Axios Media Trends. Axios.

A+E’s “SheReports” Offers Insights into Women Consumers

A+E Networks is stepping up its research game in order to provide advertisers fresh insights into marketing to women. The “SheReports” initiative is the beginning of A+E’s effort to provide marketers — and prospective clients — with data and cultural information that will make viewers more comfortable watching ad supported TV for women, make the advertising and marketing more effective.

A+E has already conducted two major studies about women. It has begun publishing a monthly newsletter for about 5,000 brand decision-makers. And it is working with the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) #SeeHer program, which aims to increase the percentage of accurate portrayals of women and girls in the U.S. in media by 20% by 2020 — the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote.

Amy Baker, EVP of client strategy and insights at A+E Networks and head of a recently launched client strategy and insights team, said the initiative grew out of research showing that women didn’t like the way they were depicted in TV advertising.

Two years ago, A+E began working with research companies and cultural anthropologists on a couple of broad studies on womanhood and how women look at money. The “Womanhood Insights” study found that women of nearly all ethnic, economic and educational backgrounds want to see strength when women are depicted on TV. They also prefer a realistic portrayal of their lives, not a glossy fantasy.

The insights from the studies that have been shared with clients are being used to develop video products, some of which will be launched at on-air branded content.

“These insights give us the ability to then create product that makes sense for what the viewers want and what the advertisers need,” she said. “So we have a handful of different products that are in development right now.”

Lafayette, J. (2018, January 15). A+E’s “SheReports” Offers Insights into Women Consumers. Broadcasting & Cable.

IAB Releases DOOH Metrics Glossary

We live in an age where connected consumers are exposed to significant amounts of information—especially ads—during their commutes and time out of doors. Smart, savvy advertisers plan and execute marketing campaigns in an omnichannel world, and these advertisers need consistency and comparability to efficiently reach consumers with messages that speak to them and engage them in the right place and time.

In order to make it efficient for agencies and brands to evaluate, plan, and buy digital out-of-home (DOOH) alongside traditional online media, the IAB DOOH committee has evaluated commonalities between terms, identifying unique terms to DOOH in the IAB’s DOOH Metrics Glossary.

IAB. (2018, January). IAB Releases DOOH Metrics Glossary. IAB.


Speaking at the CES event John Martin, chairman/CEO of Turner, says: “The advertising industry needs to move with a much greater sense of urgency. We are competing against platforms that are non-advertising supported … My fear is that when the industry finally figures out addressability, everyone is going to be watching video on Hulu and Netflix.” MediaPost.

Cord-cutters are a promiscuous bunch. Cancellation rates for some streaming services are at over 50% because some users only sign up for their favorite programs, then drop off once the season is over. The expectation of churn is putting pressure on companies to add large numbers of users, all while attempting to spend efficiently on marketing and customer acquisition. Adding discounts for subscriptions with set time periods could be a response, but part of what’s so attractive about streaming services is that you can come and go as you please, rather than being locked into long contracts. The Wall Street Journal.

Rethinking the Profession Formerly Known as Advertising: How Data Science Is Disrupting the Work of Agencies

Editor’s Note: “Speaker’s Box” in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) invites academics and practitioners to identify potential areas of research affecting marketing and advertising. Its intention is to bridge the gap between the length of time it takes to produce rigorous work and the acceleration of change within practice. With this contribution, John Deighton shows how data technology sits within its industry. He depicts this industry as a supply chain and shows how a small number of firms have defied the chain metaphor to integrate all the way from data source to data application.

These integrators, he argues, are titans in a battle to create the dominant design for a platform on which all marketing will be practiced. But, he asks, who will do the work of marketing? Will it be done by an evolved version of the advertising agency; will it be institutionalized into the culture of data science; or will it not be professionalized at all, but rather defer to one or more standard-setting industrialists, perhaps Google or Amazon? Here are a few excerpts from this article:

There is nothing new about the claim that advertising is not what it used to be. In 2012, the annual report of WPP noted, “We are applying more and more technology to our business, along with big data. We are now Math Men as well as Mad Men (and Women). Thus, we go head-to-head not only with advertising and market research groups such as Omnicom, IPG, Publicis, Dentsu, Havas, Nielsen, Ipsos, and GfK, but also new technology companies—such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Amazon—and then with technology consulting companies such as Infosys, Wipro, Accenture and Deloitte.”

At a minimum, it must be clear that a profession that changed hardly at all in the 70-odd years since the commercialization of television is not recognizably that profession any longer. By all that defines a profession—skills, assets, clients, and heritage—it is time to declare a new regime.

When a new technology is born, nothing is more certain than that it will be deployed, whether for good or for evil, and data science will not be an exception. We will receive its benefits, and we will learn to live in and around its costs. But what role will the institutions and people of the advertising profession play in the emerging practice of data-driven marketing communications and customer management?

Deighton, J. (2017, December 1). Rethinking the Profession Formerly Known as Advertising. Journal of Advertising Research.

The State of Programmatic Media Buying: New ANA Research

ANA’s Group EVP, Bill Duggan, shares key findings from an ANA whitepaper on the state of programmatic media buying.

The recent ANA white paper is based on 149 ANA member respondents. A great majority (85 percent) stated that their company is currently conducting programmatic initiatives.

Key findings among those conducting programmatic:

  • The top cited benefits of programmatic buying are better audience targeting, the ability to build audience reach, and real-time optimization.
  • A large majority (78 percent) of respondents are either concerned or very concerned about brand safety issues in programmatic buying.
  • 35 percent have reduced the role of external agency(ies) as a result of the expansion of their in-house capabilities for programmatic buying.
  • Only 40 percent of respondents are comfortable or very comfortable about the transparency they receive with their programmatic media investments. A third are uncomfortable or very uncomfortable, citing factors such as hidden costs, too many middlemen, and uncertainty on where ads actually run.
  • The ANA is aware that many marketers have made changes to programmatic buying practices to address media transparency concerns, and, specifically, fewer marketers are now opting in to undisclosed programmatic deals.

The report provides a number of recommendations including: build internal expertise, own the data and knowledge, and understand the tradeoffs of an undisclosed programmatic model.

Duggan, B. (2017, December 19). The State of Programmatic Media Buying: New ANA Research. ANA.

An Ad Agency is Trying to ‘Standardize the Wild West of Social Media’ After a Year of Brand Safety Blow-ups

According to Mike Shields, Advertising Editor with Business Insider, the ad-buying firm OMD has partnered with the data tech firm Influential to develop a way to grade social-media influencers (by creating I-Score). The partnership is the latest move by ad agencies looking to get out in front of the ongoing digital brand safety issue.

The idea behind I-Score is to help prospective advertisers figure out which digital creators will best represent them — and not put them in a compromising position. I-Score is meant to serve as a digital equivalent to the Q Score, long used to gauge the likeability and popularity of Hollywood stars.

To figure out which influencers are performing well, I-Score relies on publicly available social data (such as shares and YouTube views) and Influential’s proprietary machine-learning tool, which borrows some artificial-intelligence technology from IBM Watson.

Of course, Influential is hardly the only company out there promising to help ad buyers sift through the vast world of digital talent who have built big followings on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and other places. Many of these middlemen say they can score influencers using a compilation of data.

And, of course, there’s no telling when a normally mild-mannered social influencer might decide to go rogue and produce a controversial post.

Shields, M. (2017, December 18). An Ad Agency is Trying to ‘Standardize the Wild West of Social Media’ After a Year of Brand Safety Blow-ups. The Business Insider.

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