ARF’s annual Re:Think conference, scheduled for March 23-26, 2014, is a research extravaganza, if you will pardon the hyperbole. Each year, the ARF offers valuable insight into what is in the bleeding edge of media research, culling studies and insights from the best research papers in the industry.
This will be Gayle Fuguitt’s first ARF conference under her leadership. The list of topics and speakers indicate that the ARF is looking to offer immediately implementable and actionable research-based information from a range of industry experts. The conference focuses on three main areas: 1) Big Data, 2) How today’s Corporate Management views Research and 3) Career Development and Mentoring.
This year’s Re:Think is notable for the number of agencies attending (+30% than last year) with 168 papers submitted around big data, cross platform measurement , social and mobile consumer engagement, and researcher of the future. The format of the conference has changed to accommodate as much new information as possible. According to Fuguitt, “Our new format will have shorter, 10-20 minute presentations focused on the business results and immediate practical applications.” An example: Artie Bulgrin of ESPN will give a brief update on Project Blueprint, revealing “compelling new data that will validate last year's findings on multiplatform usage and the effect on incremental reach and time across day, week, month or campaign.” He will also share “unique insights about individual platform usage and fundamental principles that we see emerging” and explain how ESPN plans to use Blueprint as “part of our broader ESPN XP initiative for clients going forward."
I spoke to Fuguitt about this year’s conference in a series of videos viewable here. Here are some short excerpts of the interview:
CW: Gayle, what makes this year’s Re:Think different from past Re:Thinks?
GF: What I want to do is to take the biggest, most dynamic issues facing the industry and get them out into the public discourse as a conversation, not just a formal conference. I see an incredibly dynamic media landscape change with the consumer in control and new touch points creating all this new data. It is the Big Data that everyone is talking about. The theme for day one is “rethink consumer engagement” in the new dynamic media landscape: Beyond big data to breakthroughs in cross platform measurement, and mobile, social engagement. The second big dynamic is what I call “Impatient Bosses” of the C-Suite who are asking us in the Insights and Research part of the industry to sort all of this out and help understand how all the consumers are consuming media and how to create great advertising, how to allocate resources and how to make decisions in real time. The third big dynamic is looking at what we call the “Researcher’s Identity Crisis.” With all these new jobs and job titles, marketing and analytics jobs and social media strategists there are a lot of new roles and the evolution of current roles in the research sector. Budget allocations are being shifted from what have been historically research roles to roles that fit more within the context of this new media landscape. So my goal at this conference is to help our members and the attendees at the conference to rethink consumer engagement, rethink creative, not just counting, and rethink careers.
CW: What is not to be missed at this year’s conference?
GF: What should not be missed are the discussions of new applications of some existing techniques and the ability of leaders in research to apply new mobile connections with consumers. Consumers are on mobile and now we have some new insights into consumers and mobile media. There are also some surprising segmentation techniques that have been developed around television. While we are focusing on the dynamic media landscape as a broad landscape, television is still critically important in our industry. In a result that is both surprising and comforting, there is as much innovation going on in some of the traditional forms of advertising media for consumers as in the very new bleeding edge.
From what I see, the new ARF, under Gayle Fuguitt’s leadership, is committed to creating a relevant and valuable future for researchers. Whatever their new titles may include and in whatever department they reside, there has never been a better time to be in research. This year’s Re:Think not only will help current researchers stay relevant and knowledgeable, it may also encourage the next generation of media mavens to consider research as a viable and fascinating career path.
Interview conducted by Charlene Weisler, Weisler Media LLC. She can be reached through her research blog www.WeislerMedia.blogspot.com or at WeislerMedia@yahoo.com. Full disclosure: Charlene hosts a street art blog on The Starry Eye blog community
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