AI Unveiled: The Future of Advertising

  • Author: Bruna Isensee, Univision, Young Pros Advisory Board Member

On February 28th, the ARF Young Pros gathered, both in person and virtually, to learn about the utilization of AI tools and their capabilities by companies like Comscore and LinkedIn. Paul Donato, representing the ARF, began with an overview of the recently published ARF Handbook on AI in advertising research. Following that, Danan Ren and Tiffany Terilli from Comscore shared insights on how the company currently leverages AI and how we can all benefit from this technology. Virtually, Rogier Verhulst and Kendra Speed from LinkedIn presented how they use ChatGPT to understand brand association, with Kendra providing a practical example of integrating AI tools into our daily work. Finally, attendees practiced creating surveys using AI tools such as ChatGPT, Gemini, and Bard.

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On June 7, 2023, attention economy experts came together in NYC to share case studies and participate in engaging discussions on the attention measurement landscape. Plus, attendees heard a recap of the issues debated at AUDIENCExSCIENCE and an update on Phase I of the ARF Attention Validation Initiative, an empirically based evaluation of the rapidly developing market for attention measurement and prediction.

Inclusion by Design in Pharma Research and Marketing

This ARF Pharma Council event followed up on the Council’s podcast episode on “Inclusive Futures of Humancare,” focusing on the importance of inclusiveness in pharma research and marketing with respect to both demographic characteristics and health conditions.  Four speakers delivered brief presentations, followed by a discussion moderated by Pharma Council Co-Chair Marjorie Reedy of Merck.

Have We Been Mis-Measuring Basic Demographic and Media Consumption?

Inaccurate responses to basic demographic and media consumption questions asked in surveys are very problematic, since these responses form the bedrock data points for all demographic research and media consumption measurement.

Jon Puleston analyzed some of the reasons why respondents are not truthful in surveys and the challenges raised. As a result of inaccurate respondent responses, the industry has been mis-measuring basic demographics and media consumption for decades.


This discussion addressed three presentations that described insights from surveys on how the pandemic affected consumer behavior during the pandemic and to what extent observed changes will persist. The presentations addressed trends in behaviors and attitudes regarding media (such as linear TV vs. streaming), travel, and also shopping, cooking, and education.

Building Trust Through Transparency

In a 2019 Pew survey, 79% of Americans say that they know big companies track their online behavior while 59% say they don’t know how the data is used and have little control over how the data is used. In a 2020 survey, Pew found that most Americans want the right to permanently delete their health related data.


Rex Briggs, Founder & Executive Chairman of Marketing Evolution, who had developed forecasts of US COVID infections and deaths early in 2020, before it had been declared a pandemic, talked about the difficulties in “exponential forecasting” of events like a pandemic, compared to “stable state” forecasting of the impact of media, marketing, and creative. Just as companies might not have anticipated the impact of COVID-19 as it spread, they may be caught “flat-footed” in forecasting the exponential decay of the disease as vaccinations spread in 2021.  Business forecasts of the impact of COVID in 2021 should take into account vaccination rates by age and surveys on acceptance of the vaccine.

In Defense of Polling

David Dutwin, SVP of Strategic Initiatives at NORC, and a past president of AAPOR and survey research expert, in an interview with ARF CEO & President Scott McDonald, Ph.D., encouraged the advertising and marketing industry to maintain their faith in survey research. Surveys for marketing and advertising do not have to contend with two problems with election forecasting based on polls:

  1. Unlike market research surveys, pre-election polls are, “measuring a population that doesn’t [yet] exist,” – the population that will vote in an election.
  2. Given that lack of trust in major media is stronger at one end of the political spectrum than the other, non-response to surveys may well be correlated with political opinions but not with the subjects of most media and advertising surveys. Non-response therefore may well be less damaging for market research surveys.

There Were Always Mixed Signals: Triangulating Uncertainty

Cliff Young, President of US Public Affairs at Ipsos, proposed that multiple indicators be used to forecast elections, not just data from the horse-race question alone. In particular, leaders’ approval ratings are strong predictors of their probabilities of winning, and Trump’s approval rating exceeded his horse-race preference in several swing states. Taking this variable and others (incumbency, perceptions of the most important problems facing the country) into account, Ipsos created a model based on results of over 800 elections across the globe. The model had predicted that a narrow Biden win with Republicans retaining control of the Senate was more likely than a Blue Wave.