economic inflation

Crisis and Opportunity – The Future of Media for Research and Measurement

Brian Wieser’s keynote address covered four trends that are affecting the media and advertising industries: industry consolidation, the rise of ad-free TV, the emergence of new e-commerce marketers and procurement. After his presentation, Scott McDonald probed him further about his observations about the state of the media and advertising marketplace in 2023. His key points on these four trends and highlights of Brian’s conversation with Scott appear below.

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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The ARF hosted its annual flagship conference, AUDIENCExSCIENCE 2023, on April 25-26, 2023. The industry’s biggest names and brightest minds came together to share new insights on the impact of changing consumer behavior on brands, insights into TV consumption, campaign measurement and effectiveness, whether all impressions are equal, join-up solutions across multiple media, the validity, reliability and predictive power of Attention measures, targeting diverse audiences, privacy’s effect on advertising and the impact of advertising in new formats. Keynotes were presented by Tim Hwang, author of Subprime Attention Crisis, Robert L. Santos of the U.S. Census Bureau, Brian Wieser of Madison and Wall, LLC and Andrea Zapata of Warner Bros. Discovery.

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Advertising During Times of Economic Stress

Throughout 2022, ARF members asked the Knowledge Center most frequently about advertising and marketing best practices in periods of recession and/or inflation. New insights on this topic come from the “Brands 2020” project by the ARF.

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What Brands Did in 2020


In this presentation, Paul Donato, CRO of the ARF, covered findings from the seminal year of the “What Brands Did in 2020” (Brands 2020) project. This project will go on for at least the next two years or until the effects of 2020 are no longer felt. ARF researchers in the Brands 2020 study used IRI and NCS data, Kantar Ad Insights, NCS sales and Nielsen Ad Intel data, between 2017 and 2021. The IRI data was a very deep dive but across three categories: salty snacks, pasta sauce and personal care products. The NCS data was shallower but across 10 broad categories. Using all these data, ARF researchers looked at share of media, media spend and share of market before and after March 2020 (Covid) and before and after March of 2021 (start of inflation).

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Consumers Return to Normal in 2023

Morning Consult’s surveys find that consumers are increasingly “returning to normal”—meaning feeling more comfortable traveling, going to the movies and dining out.

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Research-Based Marketing in Uncertain Times

Is there research that can help marketers navigate today’s unpredictable environment?  At this event, experts recommended focusing on pricing and rethinking the “don’t go dark” rule, but they disagreed on which measures are best for optimizing marketing plans and their impact.

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Performance Pressures?

A survey among marketers conducted for the WARC Marketer’s Toolkit 2023, shows that almost half plan to increase their investment in performance, while less than a third plan increased branding spend. However, that is only part of the story. Read more »

MSI 2022-24 Research Priorities

The Marketing Science Institute (a division of the ARF) has issued its research priorities for the next two years. Research that addresses change and disruptions tops the list. Read more »