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International Newsmedia Marketing Association Reports on AM 4.0

July 8, 2009

June 30, 2009

INMA – International Newsmedia Marketing Association
by David Hirschman

The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) Audience Measurement 4.0 conference was devoted to helping members get a deeper understanding of how media audiences can be measured, how those measurements can be demonstrated and validated to advertisers, and how those measurements can be translated into increased return on investment for marketers. Speakers and panellists looked at some of the latest developments in audience measurement and talked about the growing importance of cross-media platforms and the standardisation of comparable metrics across multiple media.

Social media and its impact on audience measurement

In a keynote panel, moderator Matthieu Coppet, a global media strategist at UBS, spoke to several industry bosses about how audience measurement is likely to change over the next five years. He asked panellists why social media was so critical as a marketing tool and how its role might evolve.

David Smith, CEO of Mediasmith, said that it was important to realise that the consumer is now part of the communication, and that social media could be used to develop metrics based on information and opinions that people volunteer. “Social targeting is going to be a huge part of how we're targeting consumers in the future,” he said. “We need some engagement metrics to measure what's going on in social media. We need to be able to measure the sharing. … We need those metrics for the future, and we need to know who is going to serve those metrics.”

Chris Cunningham, founder and CEO of appsavvy, echoed this, saying that social media undeniably has become a major part of how people share with their friends and their family. “When social media works is when a brand can join a conversation and add something to it, and provide utility to the user base.”

TNS Media's Dean DiBiase said that the real shift in social media usage is the way that it now comes to you wherever you are. “Social media used to be something where you had to go somewhere,” he said, giving the example of pubs. “Today, you don't have to leave your cell phone.” He noted that today, social media users expect brands to have a site, and asserted that metrics dealing with social media needed to be thought of as a long-term part of the mix for researchers. “It's not a fad that's going to go away,” he said.

John Doran, the founder and CEO of Media6, says that part of the problem is that advertisers want social media research to show that they are reaching the same audience as offline, which isn't always true.

But the panellists stressed that the conversational nature of social media is presenting a unique opportunity for marketers to increase engagement with consumers.

“The savvy marketer … can maintain their customer loyalty through a conversation,” said Smith. “They want value from understanding more, they want to understand the brand, they want to communicate more.” He cautioned, however, that once a brand begins this kind of conversation, it has to be prepared to stay the course and continue it.

The panellists then spoke briefly about the implication of social media for traditional advertising platforms, and whether there were metrics that could compare their effects.

“I don't think you can compare digital media with television,” said Cunningham. “They're just totally different things.” He spoke the problem of scale for online media and the need for companies like MySpace to restrict their ad inventory in order to preserve value.

DiBiase said that there were comparables between online media and traditional media, and that media like television could actually learn from the way the internet has evolved over the past fifteen years.

NielsenOnline CEO John Burbank said that in some ways online media are still thought of as “experimental” for advertisers, and that if they were to rise above that status they will need robust measurements.

Cunningham replied that these budgets were already rising above “experimental” status, with hundreds of thousands of dollars already flowing into this kind of research and marketing. “The health of where dollars are now is really strong,” he said.

Digital audience measurement, issues, and solutions

This panel discussion featured online media experts who focused on Web audience metrics and the use of cookies for tracking online ad exposure (as well as for behavioural targeting).

Consultant Gerard Broussard served as moderator for the panel, introducing the topic by describing how typical users relate to cookies (and how many users delete them based on erroneous assumptions about privacy or processor speed). Whatever their reason for deleting cookies from their browser, this has repercussions for publishers, said Broussard: deletion makes unique visitor metrics inaccurate, makes conversion calculations are misguided, and throws into question key performance indicators. e asked the panellists to speak about how critical this cookie deletion issue is to marketers in messing up audience estimates and reach.

Gian Fulgoni, the chairman of ComScore said that increasingly there is recognition in the industry that multiple databases need to be used to come up with the best research elements. “The percentage deleting [cookies] in a month hasn't gone up — it's still 30 percent, and they're deleting more times per month than they used to. … It probably is in the industry's interest to really understand what is being delivered and what are the characteristics of the audience being reached.”

“At the end of the day, cookies are not people. A cookie is kind of a surrogate now to reach people,” said Mainak Mazumdat, senior vice president of measurement science for emerging media at Nielsen.

The panel next turned to how cookie data can and should be used to create demographic or psychographic insights, and what marketers were looking for from those insights.

“Many clients are looking for data-driven marketing activities,” said John Lovett, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. “If companies ultimately want to drive decision making based on the data we have, they need that data to be accurate.”

“The IAB has created a reach measurement standard,” noted Russ Fradin, CEO of Adify, but “there has to be an innovation phase before we're really likely to settle down on a metric.”

The panel also spoke about privacy issues, and how the issue of privacy in regards to cookies was being misrepresented to the public. Dave Morgan, CEO of Simulmedia, and the former chief of Tacoda, talked about how Congress was moving to regulate cookies and internet privacy, and he said that the legislation was likely to have a significant effect on the sector, and change the status quo.

With increased regulation making the collection of demographic data harder, online products and ads would be less personalised to the consumer, the panellists said, ultimately detracting from the user experience. “There's an imbalance between the fear of what could be happening versus the good of what is happening,” said Fradin.

Adjusting marketing budgets in the face of the economic downturn

Planning experts and senior marketing executives spoke during a panel discussion about how they justify marketing budgets in the face of harsh economic times.

Tomas Emmers, consumer and market insights director of Unilever, introduced the topic by speaking for a several minutes about how his company has adjusted its marketing budgets in response to the economic downturn. He emphasised that the company thinks that this is a period of opportunity as well as caution, but that we are now in a situation where every penny counts and spending gets more scrutinised. As a result, financial measures and return on investment (ROI)are increasingly at the core of decision making.

In turn, he said, brand teams can be tempted by the desire to shift funding from above to below the line support, and from long term brand equity growth to short term sales return. Instead of experimenting with new technologies, brand managers focus their spend on media channels with a proven record

At Unilever, he said, ROI is now very high on the agenda — so much so that the company has appointed a global vice president of ROI, and is investing significant portions of its research budget on ROI analysis. But the rapid rise of digital and mobile media channels is makes ROI metrics challenging, as does the increased importance of public relations and word-of-mouth in the amplification of a brand's message. He said it is also hard to reconcile short-term and long-term data in ROI context.

Moreover, he said, it is generally difficult to understand the “why” behind ROI data and results. While there is plenty of data about effects on dollar spending, there isn't enough about why one campaign outperformed another, and which creative elements were more successful than others.

He ended with a few “aspirations and wishes” for this type of data, saying: “What we really need to be able to do is to speak about ROI and the actionability of it. This needs to be based on comparable facts across all channels which are directly comparable. … Obviously our budgets have limitations -- so we need different solutions to work with different bank accounts.”

“What is the ROI we are really getting from our ROI research?” is the key question, he said.

Following his remarks, panellists — representing several different research firms — responded to the comments and spoke about what their companies are doing to create comparable and actionable metrics for ROI.

“In the last few years we've really been embarking on a journey to get print to a comparable metric — in line with metrics offered by other media like television and the Internet,” said MRI research senior vice president Mickey Galin. “Our conversations with clients have changed drastically in the past few years — the processes that we have followed have been to bring metrics to print that can be compared to other media so that print can be evaluated on the same lines.”

Pointlogic president Peter Kloprogge said that the economic recession is, paradoxically, one of the best things that could have happened to the advertising research industry. “[The recession] renews a focus on ROI and accountability,” he said. “Integrated marketing is about understanding consumers' behaviour. The fragmentation that digital has brought has created a lot of inaccurate data does not make anything better. … We need to understand the granularity of why people make decisions — then you can understand why a certain product in a certain environment at a certain time can create ROI.” He said he believed that the industry needed to have data fusions and integrations as well as audience measurement to come up with actionable insights.

Randy Stone, the chief executive officer of MMA, said that his company's work is being done in a lot of different sectors, addressing different data streams (including tracking, attitudinal, and consumer), even while acknowledging the importance of good creative. “When you're looking at the results of a marketing mixed model — these things are an aid to judgment,” he said. “But they will never replace creativity or strategy or judgment. And I think when you're looking at a long term health of a brand in a business, you really need to look on a forward-going basis and inform your model with fresh data.”

Bill Harvey, the founder and president of TRA, noted that the ARF has created a “360 degree model” committee to work on this problem of a universally comparable metric.

The panellists also spoke about how researchers could get in the door with clients and sell the efficiency and effectiveness of these metrics in such tough economic times. They said that it was interesting to see how different companies were reacting to the recession, and where they were cutting, and Kloprogge said that, on some level, many companies are just doing what they are comfortable with right now.

Many companies are cutting their marketing budgets significantly, and Stone said that most of the effects of this cutting can be simulated so that budget cuts can be made most effectively: “If you have to cut 5 percent or 8 percent, how do you do that in the way that will be least damaging for the business?”

Collecting and analysing multi-media data

In a series of presentations, researchers from around the world brought different perspectives for how media data can be collected and analysed from different screen-based media.

The first presentation was by Tim Brooks, the former chairman of the Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing Research Committee. He spoke about how his firm used EEG, eye-tracking, pupillometry, and galvanic skin response data to analyse how the brain reacts differently to different advertising stimuli.

His study, Cross-Media Measurement by Centralized Data Collection, was done in conjunction with Nielsen Strategic Marketing Science vice president Christie Kawada, and focused on whether the brain reacts differently to brand experiences and content delivered across television, computer, and mobile screens. The first step of their study involved 60 subjects watching two ads on all of the different media, and tracked their responses to them.

Kawada said that they had found significant difference through the separate platform experiences. In terms of “emotion,” the most attention was paid to the two ads on the traditional television platform than on the others. Emotional engagement was lowest on the mobile platform, but memory encoding and the retention of ad content was highest via mobile.

Brooks pointed out that many in the field had been afraid that television would be supplanted by the proliferation of online video — but noted that people are still watching a lot of television. And while adults are slowly adopting mobile video consumption, they are doing it less than younger people, and usually for more functional (rather than entertainment-related) purposes.

They next spoke about the results of another step in the study which segmented 750 participants into categories like “modern media mavens” (described as “extremely tech-savvy, cross-platform consumers”), “trendsetters” (the more mainstream consumers who sustain the impact of disruptive technologies), and “extreme techies” (a group of mostly men who are generally the first to adopt new media). They described how they plotted these participants across a technology adoptive curve, and then spoke about the groups' different characteristics.

Kawada said that they had reached a few key conclusions from this study, not least of which was that regularly scheduled television was “alive and well,” and would remain an important platform for a while.

They also found that “extreme techies” are not particularly important in influencing the adoption of new technologies by the mainstream. “You'll read a lot of articles about them,” said Kawada, “but they're not really moving the markets.”

The second presentation was called “Mobile Media Measurement Using the World's Largest wireless Bill Panel,” and described how ChaCha Search was using data from the cell phone bills of over 70,000 consumers to come up with insights about consumer SMS behaviours. The bill panel is administered by Nielsen, and ChaCha's study sought to establish that direct measurement of mobile audiences and advertising could be established using this data.

ChaCha's Zach Linder first gave a background about the business of SMS, which has seen the number of messages sent by consumers nearly double in the past year. According to his data, the average cell phone customer sends and receives 486 text messages per month, while, by comparison, the average subscriber only makes 182 mobile phone calls per month. More than one in five customers had seen some sort of SMS advertising, but he said that marketers increasingly need more information about the reach of these types of campaigns.

In the past, he said, marketers relied solely on aggregators to distil information on SMS campaign results — including survey-based data. But by analysing data directly from consumers' bills, he said that marketers can have more exact information about the habits of mobile customers in relation to their text messaging habits. From the study, ChaCha said it had determined that large-scale, representative bill panels could produce granular, reliable insights about SMS use. Linder said that his research indicated that independent short-coded marketing will continue to grow.

The company will continue to study and market these carrier bills, he said, and will make enhancements to the panels, expanding their composition to monitor off-deck activity (as well as the mobile applications market). Another question which may be investigated is whether consumers' mobile media habits change when they change mobile carriers.

The third presentation was about how UK cell phone operators worked together to create a common measurement standard for mobile media.

Brad Greene, the vice president of business development at GSMA UK Mobile Media Metrics. (MMM) said the organisation's members had been interested in accelerate the growth of mobile as an advertising medium. Cameron Meierhofer, ComScore's executive vice president of analytics said that in order to do that, mobile operators had to come together for a “high-level process in order to get input data from users.” This data, which is already flowing through the infrastructure of mobile operators is collected and anonymised so that nothing can be related back to a phone number or to the ultimate consumer. The measurement system that they created aggregates data and removes non-relevant data, allowing researchers to develop the same kinds of metrics for mobile that they get on mainstream digital media.

The final presentation was called “Innovation in Mobile TV Management” and was presented by Gyunsook Min of TNS Media Korea.

She spoke about the differences between two types of mobile media services available in Korea. Min spoke about a method for collecting data about media watched on mobile phones, explaining that it is anonymised and then analysed to determine how long people watch video content on mobile phones and in what format.

She contrasted the findings from mobile phones with video watching on other devices. Evidently, every car built in Korea comes equipped with a GPS navigation device in the dashboard that turns into a working television screen when the car is parked or stopped in traffic. She contrasted the popularity of dramas, comedies, and other types of shows on the various mobile screens.

Strategies for consumer-centric marketing

In a keynote speech, Saul Berman, the lead partner at the Strategy & Change Consulting IBM Institute for Business Values, spoke about the strategic changes that need to take place as marketing becomes increasingly consumer-centric. He pressed the need for smart media metrics and measurements, and spoke about the moves that marketers and researchers need to make in order to keep with the times.

“Inventions are one thing, but innovations are another thing,” said Berman. “The real challenge that sits before us is ‘how do we turn [insight] into an innovation?’” He said that “significant choices are required to keep pace with advertising expectations, laying out several key points:

  • The distinctions between advertising and marketing are blurring, requiring new roles and new forms of consumer-centric marketing.
  • To reach consumer centricity, both granularity of targeting and measurement, and cross-platform integration are required.
  • M&E companies need to build a new set of capabilities in the area of cross-platform innovation, greater insights, open collaboration, digital processes.

Berman said that as a result of the increasing consumer-centricity, the questions being now are “What does it all mean?” “How is this industry changing?” and “Who's in control?”

“We used to think we could tell consumers what to do,” said Berman, “but increasingly the consumer is saying we'll do what we want to do when we want to. The control of power is increasingly shifting. … Creativity is increasingly coming from other places.”

He said that, more than ever, it is not just about getting the message to the right consumer, but also getting it to them when, where and how they want to receive it. “Every contact with a consumer now is an opportunity to build your brand and build your reputation,” he said.

Berman said that new measures should be individual and involvement based, noting that people will pay for activity rather than impressions in online media. He also said that the advertising inventories would change in response to new platform players, as well as social media.

He also noted that consumer adoption of digital content continues to outpace expectations. “No matter which group we look at, they're spending more and more time in online media,” he said, and asserted that consumers are willing to trade information about themselves (and their habits) if they perceive that they are getting value of some sort. “Consumers get offended when you invade their space and don't give anything in return,” he said. He also noted that consumers now naturally seek cross-platform integration from marketers.

He closed by saying that while industry players are taking distinct paths towards consumer-centric marketing, certain realities continue to hinder progress. As a result, true cross-platform comparability — the kind that is really needed — has been inhibited. “Competing in the new era requires a fundamental shift in capabilities,” he said.

Traditional media marketing in the face of digital competition

Panellists from print, outdoor, and radio companies talked about the challenges being faced by traditional media outlets as they adapt and compete in the digital world. Moderator Richard Marks started things off by noting that the phrase “in these difficult times” is often appended to any discussion of traditional media, and asked the various panelists to talk about the specific situation their company (and the medium it represents) is in.

Neil Eddleston, managing director of out-of-home media company JCDecaux OneWorld, said that it's a mistake to think that users are moving from a traditional platform onto a wholly different delivery mechanism. “Digital is just a format for delivering,” he said. “Outdoor's audiences are expanding rapidly. … The issue is becoming how we interact and engage with people. The challenge is how we position outdoor within all the structural changes going on all around us.”

Time Inc. chief research and insights officer, Betsy Frank, said “the negative drumbeat has been deafening lately,” as people wring their hands over the decline of print. She blamed some of this on the media's coverage of itself. “Magazines do have a future, and the value proposition between magazines and consumers are alive and well,” she declared. “For consumers the experience of reading a magazine, is relaxing, engaging happy, … These benefits are uniquely owned by magazines. So the challenge will be driven by affirming and enhancing those unique aspect that we bring to consumers. She noted that a lot of headlines are produced when magazines close, but that there are also many magazines that launch each year.”

“Throughout this path, research will be a critical component of success,” she said. “Exposure to the magazine, engagement with ads, and metrics of purchase intent and drive to the Web. We need to educate the industry about the validity of these tools.”

Jeffrey Graham, the executive director of customer insights at The New York Times, also expressed optimism, saying the paper had been transforming to become “more consumer- and user-centric,” which made customer insight more important. He spoke about some of the qualitative research the paper has done over the past few months to look at its audience, and the analysis it has been doing to find paid online models that work. He also spoke about how the Times was continually looking at the reader's experience (both online and in print) and trying to improve how they interacted with the paper.

Graham described a recent analysis done of subscribers to the paper's print edition, intended to discover the unique value proposition that the print medium offered to customers (to the point where they would pay hundreds of dollars per year for a subscription).

Jeff Haley who heads up the Radio Advertising Bureau, said that radio, as a medium, has is a very resilient medium -- having survived paradigm-shifting technologies like television and MP3 players in the past. He said the major shift he sees among broadcasters is that they are beginning to become channel-agnostic distributors of information. “The digital age is not gridlocking radio, but actually bringing it into a new world,” he said. “We're clearly at an inflection point.”

Conde Nast senior vice president of research Scott McDonald also refused to sound a pessimistic tone. He touted the “enormous opportunities” presented by digital for magazines, and he said that the current downturn owed as much to business model changes as to cyclical advertising issues. “The challenge we face is a business model challenge,” he said. “We have a situation in which the advertising rates for digital media are significantly lower than for the offline media -- you have a race to the bottom for online CPMs (cost per thousand impressions).”

The discussion next turned to how these business models themselves are changing, and how the executives are rethinking their strategies.

Graham said the Times had the same problem that was plaguing the rest of the newspaper business: advertising is falling precipitously, and while digital is growing, it is not yet at a pace where it will make up for what is being lost. However, he expressed optimism that research could help figure out ways to bridge this monetary gap. “We have so many different platforms that consumers are avidly consuming our content on, that I think one of the functions is that we have to discover how these forms are being used,” he said.

Time Inc's business model is “certainly a work in progress,” said Frank, who predicted that it would continue to be important for the company to tap multiple revenue streams, as different magazine genres were affected differently by the business model problems. “We're figuring it out,” she said. “We're not looking for a cookie cutter approach, but the agencies are still figuring this out as well. They're at different stages for how they integrate or not. We're probably late thinking that we have to come up with some new model.”

Haley said radio advertisers had no intention of trading in-book and on-air dollars for online pennies, and that radio is really a single-model business with ad revenue as the driver. The core listener is demanding increased access across multiple platforms, he said, and stations would provide it — but radio is an ad-driven business in the same way it always has been.

Eddleston says that outdoor advertising is adapting to digital as an opportunity, but that the existence of digital ads doesn't change his company's business model at all. “When it comes to longer dwell times, there is the possibility to have longer experiences with the consumer [with a digital outdoor ad],” he said.

Conde Nast's McDonald said that print is increasingly in a period of expectation around business models, but that adapting magazines onto the Web is, in part, a process of trial-and-error. He spoke of the success and brand synergy generated by Lucky Magazine's iPhone app, and said that the company would try to figure out other similar niche areas where digital could augment print products. “It's a fitful evolution — partly because the technologies themselves change very quickly,” he said.

When asked what they were looking for from audience measurement suppliers, most of the panellists spoke of the need for research to help advertisers realize that the media was meeting their goals. They spoke of a single-source multimedia measurement metric, calling it the "holy grail" which had still not been discovered. “The challenge for media is to have more accurate measurements of whether people are paying attention or not,” said Eddleston.

Measuring consumers involvement with "non-traditional" media

A panel discussion brought together out-of-home marketers and researchers to speak about the different tools, methods, and strategies for targeting consumers out in the world and measuring their involvement with media.
Chris Gagen, the senior vice president and managing director of Posterscope USA, which does traditional and non-traditional out-of-home marketing said that his company is charged with “investing” clients' money. By that, he said marketers and researchers should being thinking of the return on investment (ROI) of their own efforts as they planned studies and campaigns. He noted that about 70 percent of revenue from out-of-home advertising comes from local marketers — not national, and said that the tools for providing measurement of these out-of-home ads were poor at best. More frustrating even, he said, is the inability to compare out-of-home ads to other media, but said that a revolution was starting to build. More and more, he said, “We can go to a client and say ‘this is what your consumer is telling us.’”

Next was Jeff Eccleston, a vice president at Sponsorship Research International who said that while traditional sports sponsorship (like stadium naming rights) makes up about two-thirds of the sponsorship market, the other third has been growing. Increasingly, sponsors want to know the value of their sponsorship, and have a clear idea of what they are getting. “Sponsorship is a very targeted marketing approach,” he said. As a result, there has been a push for a “cost per touch” measurement. But, essentially, asserted Eccleston, sponsorship is a medium — a marketing ingredient that can amplify other media and make it more effective.

“Sponsorship doesn't make your advertising work — it makes it work better.” said Eccleston. “It should be thought of not in lieu of, but in complement with, other media.”

OVAB President Suzanne Alecia emphasised that every marketing experience, including out-of-home ads, is in front of an audience — and that being able to count that audience is a key building block, whether it be in elevators and taxicabs or on street corners.
Joseph Philport, the president and chief executive officer of the Traffic Audit Bureau for Media Measurement, expressed some surprise that billboards should even be classified as a “non-traditional” medium to be measured. And he said that it is more difficult for out-of-home ads to get into companies' media plans because it is an afterthought in their planning process. “We need to allow media planners to plan out-of-home like spot television, delivering for specific markets,” he said. “The other need is something much more radical; to move away from a model of circulation.”
The panel discussed the different levels of exposure that people have to out-of-home ads and some of the intangible aspects of out-of-home advertising that can make a major difference in converting impressions into ROI. In particular, Gagen said, it is important to get the sponsorship and ad messages closest to where a purchase decision would be taking place.

Examining the influencers and influences on consumer behaviour

A series of presentations from researchers and analysts examined different ways to measure the importance of indirect influencers on consumer decisions, as well as the affects of seeing things on different media or on multi-media platforms.

In the first presentation, Jim Harris, the chief executive officer of the Wall Street Journal Office Network, and Robert Passikoff, the founder and president of BrandKeys, spoke about a study that they produced for Blackberry to demonstrate the value of the digital Wall Street Journal screens that are placed in elevators and office buildings around the country.

Harris said that the purpose of the study was to take everything down to basics: "Marketers have numerous tactical delivery options. All present themselves as unique, but some work better than others," he said. "How can you make the cash register ring?" He said that the medium brought good engagement, but that what ultimately matters to advertisers is a medium's ability to improve brand strength and brand equity.

Passikoff said that the key to this type of research was being able to demonstrate that the consumption and mix of marketing options used to communicate a message has behavioural consequences on the level of engagement attained by the brand. Advertisers ask "What will I get?" and the medium should show that higher attention is paid to the ad than on other media; the brand thought of as "better"; and the consumer should have a higher propensity to buy the product.

The study that they conducted looked at a campaign to introduce the new Blackberry Curve smartphone. Passikoff said that they wanted to see what happened in terms of engagement levels when people went to an event launching the phone, and then compare subsets who saw an ad for the phone on a WSJ screen as opposed to a regular television screen.

The study showed marked increases in brand equity and sales among consumers at the event who actually watched the ad on the WSJ screen (and lesser increases among consumers who watched on a traditional TV format). "If you have a platform that can increase engagement, you can affect profitability," said Harris.

After completing such a study, next steps included:

  • Recognising that real media engagement assessments are not only possible but practicable.
  • Conducting ongoing validity studies in a range of product and service categories.
  • Integrating predictive measures into media planning.

The second presentation dealt with how neuroscience techniques could be used to measure in-game advertising effectiveness. Jeremi Karnell and Dan Berlin, both from OTOinsights, spoke about some of the key issues in figuring out the efficacy and engagement that users have with ads placed within video game contexts.

Karnell noted that while in-game advertising is seeing healthy growth, it is still dealing with "compression-based" metrics. Thus, his team sought to find out whether players look at ads in a game, which they remember, and which ad locations within a game were most effective. As well, he sought to come up with a way to determine if engagement factors into recall of in-game advertising (i.e. whether engagement with the game distracted from engagement with the ad).

The study used a fairly small sample size — eight participants total — of heavy-playing gamers, and focused on sports games because of their very prevalent advertising and because early adopters tend to play sports games. The researchers used a questionnaire about media consumption and video game experience, as well as methods to determine brand recognition and association, as well as physiological and eye-tracking data. Game clips were displayed at random, and participants were tested on what they remembered.

General findings include:

  • The time of video shown did not affect the level of engagement.
  • That there was a physiological consensus on which were the most and least compelling games.
  • How recently an ad ran can improve recall more so than frequency.
  • The highest impact ads may be located both at frequent and terminal game play points (like finish lines save screens and menus).
  • Ads that are placed in big, static locations have more impact than ads placed within the game.
  • Highly visible ad placement compensates for lack of knowledge about the brand, as participants generally remembered the most visually prominent brands.


The third presentation was by Gregg Liebman, the senior vice president at CNN who runs ad sales research at the network. His study sought to tout the marketing potential of "Influencers" — by showing that a network like CNN has an audience likely to influence their friends about a certain product or service,

"We need to find research that advertisers find credible that enables us to both attract new ad dollars as well as charge a premium for the network's valuable audience," he said of his job at CNN. "We need to demonstrate the value of a CNN exposure for all advertisers."

He said the network had been working with influencer marketing for many years, particularly looking to determine how influential news consumers influence the purchasing decisions of other by word-of-mouth. According to research, influentials are more likely to find news important to follow, and are currently more likely to watch CNN for news and information than other networks.

The key findings from these studies, he said, were that reaching influencers could have a multiplying effect on media dollars spent — allowing advertisers with constrained budgets to do more with less. These influencers could be demonstrated to be early adopters of new technologies, as well. Also key was finding ad positioning that works across multiple CNN platforms, including mobile. The opportunity to advertise on CNN allowed advertisers to reach different groups of consumers because of the different ways that CNN connects with tech-savvy influentials.

Ed Keller, chief executive officer of the Keller Fay Group, then talked about the studies they had done into why influencer marketing mattered. His research for CNN linked audiences to word-of-mouth and influencers to brands.

He spoke first about the history of word-of-mouth studies, which date back to the 1950s, and indicates the disproportionate influence of specific groups of individuals within a society. The value of influencers is in their "reach effect" he said. If marketers can find influencers, they can more efficiently spread a message to more people using fewer resources. He pointed to a study indicating that 10 percent of the population accounts for 25 percent of word-of-mouth impressions conveyed — this among an estimated 1 billion wood-of-mouth-based impressions every day in the U.S. So while the average American has 80 word-of-mouth influencing conversations in a week, influentials have 145 conversations. These influencers have more social links to others, so they are exposed to new technologies earlier. They are often the earliest adopters, but not always.

So the key for marketers, he said, is to see if social hubs can be identified so they can be an efficient target for word-of-mouth campaigns.

Influencers also have an acceleration effect for new products he said. "Faster adoption leads to greater profits," he noted. "When you do influencer marketing, it ups profit by 10-40 percent. Influencers draw on advertisements in the content of their word of mouth conversations."

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