The Future Evolution of Media Research

In this posting I continue looking into the future of marketing and advertising research, today focusing on helping media decisionmakers.

What will media research look like in 2015?

First, the drivers:

  • Today the strongest driver is the universal CMO/CFO mandate to move from eyeball counts to ROI
  • This shift has to take place without incurring sizeable risk to the brand and to the brand manager (and CMO, et al. – all the people who could be blamed if it does not go well)
  • The manual agency workload cannot be increased any further at current compensation
  • The agency needs to make ROI bonus compensation a large part of the business model
  • Media agencies are also the ones moving faster than creative agencies toward custom video program production.

When I started in the agency business back at the dawn of time, we had ten people in the media department per million dollars of spend; today that is half a person. Procurement of media by people who initially had no idea of any other media value except CPM has hurt both brands and media agencies who became commoditized in a price war. The best of the procurement people have now become true media experts, and they are in the process of repairing the damage. That process is just getting rolling.

What then are the needs?

  • Singlesource* needs to continue its rollout. This method is essential to moving media research into the ROI world on a firm foundation, without need for assumptions or subjective judgments.
  • Analytic systems need to become integrated so that media people have a single screen dashboard on which they can see and manipulate all the available information in ways that are intuitively obvious, as in the iPad. This solves the information overload (at least in this aspect of their life) and scarce resource problems, and makes it easier to make the massive shift from eyeballs to ROI.
  • As a warm blankie comfort zone, sex/age currency cannot be tossed out overnight. Most brands will prefer to run in parallel, at least for a while. This means optimizers will have to hold sex/age delivery constant while increasing reach/frequency against the ROI driving segment of purchasers.

Finally, the prognostications:

  • The upfront is not broken. It will still happen in 2015. It will not look much different than it does today. The sweeping changes that will overtake the upfront before 2020 will only be seen in early baby steps. My Myers column written in 1999 described the upfront in 2005 as a war of optimizers and yield maximizers – this prediction will probably become a reality in the 2015-2020 period.
  • Sex/age will have reduced importance to many major brands by 2015.
  • Measuring all the new screens in a crossmedia, singlesource way will become the place to be for bleeding edge addicts (like me).
  • Singlesource and marketing mix modeling will become integrated, easing the transition from mix to singlesource as more and more marketing causals/media are measured by singlesource.
  • Media research companies (and other research companies) will escalate partnering relationships to bring together bodies of learning. Knowledge integration will provide more insight into how to effect higher ROI by bonding the new creative with the program environments most enhancing to sales effect and most skewed to the ROI driving segment. These decisions often have to be made before a campaign is launched, before singlesource effectiveness data become available, hence the importance of all other types of research. But to prove their validity, all other research types will ultimately have to demonstrate that they predict ROI as measured by singlesource.
  • The sharp dividing line between direct marketing and brand advertising will blur. All brands will want all of their marketing stimuli to cause audience involvement to the point of the audience taking some action, whether it be interacting, bookmarking, sharing, clicking the Like button, sending to friends, mashing up in Facebook page, and hopefully in the end buying more of the brand at less discounted prices.
  • True Sponsorship of programs and videos will increase, providing brands with increased involvement, affinity and gratitude among larger and larger audiences. Some of this sponsored content will have been custom developed specifically for the brand, mostly by media agencies taking on program production. Branded entertainment will expand from inserts into programs into the programs themselves, often with fully integrated “live read” (radio term of art) cast presenter commercials.
  • Cause marketing will similarly expand as a share of marketing dollars.
  • More brands will experiment with Gratitude Reach Units (GRUs).
  • The privacy wall will become permeable by bona fide best practices (i.e. in-context notification). This will unlock the tap for addressable commercials.
  • Marketing and media investments will become more cost effective and more accountable. In fact, more scientific. Marketing, advertising and media will attract more of the best people who have in their veins either creativity or quant/computer techie skills or both, because the game will have become – even more than ever – one of the most interesting games in town. The game I always thought it was anyway.

 

Briefly Noted

  • David Poltrack, speaking at an Advertising Age & TRA breakfast on April 14, was asked by The New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott about how conditions might have changed the odds of getting a hit show on television. David replied that in the 60s, 50% of the population sampled the average new broadcast network TV show between the start of the new season and the May sweeps, and today, with so many program choices for the viewer, that 50% is now down to 15%.
  • In the previous posting, Ameritest CEO Chuck Young alluded to four types of memory that a TV commercial must affect, and so I asked him to elucidate. This posting continues below with more thoughts on the future evolution of creative research from myself and from Chuck.

All the best,

Bill

 

The Future Evolution of Creative Research, redux

In my April 19 posting I wrote about helping advertising creatives to do their best work through future research into the minds of the audience, tied to what they buy and how that changes in response to specific stimuli.

In the previous posting I commented that through all forms of research including but not limited to neuroscience, advertising research will evolve into even more science and less art; we will learn how advertising, in all of its forms, works inside the mind/brain connection.

A superlative example of that trend from today’s research is in the work of Chuck Young’s Ameritest. For example, here is what Chuck has to say about the memory agencies which mediate advertising sales effect:

Four Memories: Advertising Is Planting Seeds

The original method of pretesting was recall testing because marketers understood that for an ad to be effective it had to leave something behind in consumer memory. Unlike promotions, ads create long-term value because of the brand structures they build in our memories.

But one of the chief lessons from modern neuroscience is that the old tape-recorder model of memory long held by recall testers was overly simplistic. It is now well established that there are multiple memory systems in the mind, not just one—It is now pretty clear that for an ad campaign to build strong brand value, it must make at least four kinds of deposits in the different memory banks of the mind.

To understand the four kinds of brand memories that are important for advertisers, it is helpful to think of a simple model about how we learn to make a sale.

Bright young people coming to work for me are afraid of the very idea of selling.  Fear of rejection is one reason for this.  As a result, their preferred method of approaching a client or prospect is to send an email. They quickly learn that this, by itself, doesn’t work very well.  So, as their level of knowledge builds and their confidence grows, they reach for the phone.  They soon discover that over the phone they hear something that was missing from an email, perhaps something in the tone of voice. What is being said, they realize, is sometimes not as important as how it is said.  An emotional dimension has been added through voice and a relationship begins.  But this, too, is not always enough to close a sale.  Finally, when they are competent enough in doing their job so that I am confident they can properly represent the brand of my company, they get on a plane to make a sales call in person.  Here the final discovery is made: the real trust that comes from physical eye contact is essential to getting to the handshake, turning a prospect into a loyal customer.

Selling in person is more effective than selling at a distance—and in large part this has to do with the different kind of memories that are created with the in-person sales call.

The semantic memory system, which can be thought of as the rational, verbal part of the brain, is the place where advertisers can use email effectively. These emails communicate features and benefits, product concepts, unique selling propositions, brand positionings. Semantic memories are those that can be accessed with traditional recall testing methods.

The episodic memory system is the place where personal, autobiographical memories are stored. Where were you on 9/11?  The images that come to mind form your personal narrative of the events that you have lived through, real or imagined, and how you felt about them. Advertisers can telephone their brand stories to this memory system of the brain with radio or television or other storytelling media.  Recognition, rather than recall, is a better way for researchers to access these emotional episodic memories.

The procedural memory system is the oldest place of memory, where physical sensations and physical skills are stored. What does a headache feel like? How do you remember how to dance or drive a car? Advertisers can shake hands with this part of the brain in two general ways.

The first, by means of the operation of mirror neurons, is through the magic of physical-action-at-distance that I call “virtual consumption”.  It’s why bite-and-smile, product-in-use or other kinds of brand experience scenes in ads are so important. It’s also why we consumers get so addicted to watching sports or playing video games.

The second way that brands can reach out and touch someone is through click-throughs and other action-interactions in this new high touch age of iPhones, iPads, Kinect and other Internet-machine extensions of our bodies. We researchers have much to learn about how to measure the impact on advertising ROI of these new physical brand memories being formed.

The fourth type of memory that is important for advertisers does not pertain to the brain but rather to the brand.  It’s the brand identity tag that links the other three types of memories to your brand’s name or icon or other identifier, turning the other three types of memories into a valuable property in the brain that can be monetized.

Measuring brand linkage across the three different memory systems of the brain is a work in progress that perhaps modern neuroscience can shed some light on. (If you would like to read more of my ruminations in these areas, you can find them on the Resources Page of our website, http://www.ameritest.net.)

The implication of thinking about advertising from the standpoint of the multiple memory systems of the mind is that advertisers need to develop a clear strategic framework for designing ad campaigns that sell the head, the heart and the hand of the consumer.

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