brands & branding

What Brands Did in 2020 & the Impact on Market Share


This multi-year project’s objective is to understand how brands reacted to the events of 2020 and what the long-term implications were. In that fateful year, brands encountered a pandemic-driven recession, lockdown and periods of social unrest, along with the impact of economic stimulus, leading to the current state of inflation. Questions this study looks to address include, what happens to a brand’s market share if it goes “dark.” Was this different than previous recessions? How long was recovery? Did small brands take advantage of inexpensive media and if so, how did this affect their market share? Findings from the initial year are now available.

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How MARS Builds Brands

Attention, Emotion and Memory (ESG) are seen as the key elements in building brands.

The “Attention Break-out Session” during the second day of the AUDIENCExSCIENCE conference showed that attention metrics are typically used within a larger framework. Case in point, a presentation by Realeyes and Mars showed how Mars sees attention to marketing messages as a trigger of emotions that leads to memory and (hopefully) brand building.


AUDIENCExSCIENCE Break-out Session, Attention Metrics: Validity, Reliability & Predictive Powers. Using Attention AI to Predict Real-World Outcomes – Max Kalehoff, VP Marketing Growth, Realeyes; -Johanna Welch, Global Mars Horizon Comms Lab Senior Manager, Mars.

Does “Going Dark” Always Hurt the Brand?

Researchers have consistently found that decreasing advertising during a recession can hurt sales after the period of economic contraction, and that “going dark” is likely to cause long-term damage to a brand. The first analyses of the “What Brands Did in 2020” research project indicate more nuanced effects.

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Beyond Reach, the Importance of Measuring Ad Resonance

Tom WeissChief Data Scientist, MarketCast

Megan Daniels SVP of Product, MarketCast

Tom Weiss and Megan Daniels of MarketCast introduced a new metric in their break-out session: brand effect resonance. This product evolved from one called Brand Effect which uses a combination of survey (15,000 consumers per day) and behavioral data across linear, social, digital (popular websites) and streaming. First developed by IAG, then owned by Nielsen and then Phoenix, Brand Effect stands as the main engine of the brand-effect resonance rating system, which was created to overcome gaps in reach measurement. They believe it can now isolate and show exactly how content and platform quality impacts advertising performance. Resonance here is defined as how well people remember the ad, how well they understood the creative and the message and how well they can link it back to the brand. Ad resonance measurement is said to be able to isolate the impact of content and platform on ad recall.

Key Takeaways

  • Reach measurement has drawbacks: even though it acknowledges audience size, it does not measure ad impact. Reach measurement treats all impressions as equal regardless of the content, and while platform and the quality of the content matter, their impact cannot currently be proven.
  • Ten percent of respondents to a recent MarketCast survey found that in a digital environment, ads associated with premium content (professionally produced vs. user-generated content (UGC)) had more credible messaging.
  • Sixty-two percent who watched a premium clip remembered the ad and the brand correctly versus 49% of those who viewed a UGC clip. In addition, 56% of premium clip viewers thought the ad spoke directly to them, versus 43% who said an ad in a UGC clip spoke to them.
  • The resonance score is built from CTV/streaming ACR data, opportunity to see (OTS) surveys for linear TV, tags on digital ads (known exposure) and on social—OTS through memory triggers and surveys.
  • Using the always on approach, they survey people about ads they have seen on TV, CTV or social within a 24-hour window. The big pool of participants is used to normalize all other factors, so to see what network or platform would best suit a client’s ad.
  • Ad resonance rating is meant to become an interoperable metric that complements traditional reach and frequency measures and other currency metrics.

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Know Your Meme – Sensory Memetics & Audience Engagement

Allison GutkowskiDirector of Global Research, HCD Research

Michelle Niedziela, Ph.D.VP of Research & Innovation, HCD Research

  Allison Gutkowski and Michelle Niedziela of HCD Research covered unique approaches to increasing consumer engagement and introduced the concept of sensory memetics, which they describe as an approach to curating it. They also shared their thoughts on identifying consumer habits and lifestyle and incorporating these with sensory profiling to make them more meaningful. Moreover, utilizing new technologies, like ChatGPT, can offer new product ideas and social media marketing messages that evoke brand harmony and are more engaging. They also dove into the theoretical drivers behind behaviors that either spell engagement or ad avoidance and where the line is between authenticity and distrust due to sponsorship.

Key Takeaways

  • More bridges should be made between R&D and marketing to inform better on consumer’s lifestyle and find ways to become a part of it.
  • Sensory profiling and cross-modal associations (i.e., a picture of a rubber ball you can hear in your memory) can improve the product experience and social media messaging about the product.
  • It’s important to embody brand harmony and that all aspects meet consumer expectations.
  • Tools like ChatGPT can help create and test novel flavors and nuanced product possibilities, as well as conjure unique messaging ideas for social.
  • Design Fiction or a closed social media feed can be used to test messaging.
  • More and more sensory people are being hired to work at brands.

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E, S, or G? Which Matters Most to Consumers and Institutional Investors?

When firms communicate about their environmental, social and governance (ESG) activities, they should consider not only what matters most to which stakeholders, but what results make the most impact with which stakeholders as well. While consumers prefer to invest in brands perceived positively on environmental and social issues, institutional investors focus less on these aspects and far more on governance.

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The Future of Social Media for Marketers

  • By Stephanie, Scalice, Young Pros Chair, LinkedIn

On March 16, 2023, the ARF Young Pros led an exploration of the ongoing transformation and future trajectory of social media to help organizations navigate the landscape and create more strategic social media plans. Panelists discussed trends, the role of influencers, creative branding campaigns and more.

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