The Advertising Research Foundation is celebrating two big anniversaries this year: we and Research marks 50 years of publication later this month. To get some perspective on the history of advertising research and the future of the industry, we caught up with Eileen Campbell, Global CEO of Millward Brown.

ARF: What do you see as the most important changes the advertising industry has undergone in the last 50 years?

Eileen Campbell: All the changes brought on by technology, even in the last decade alone. Technology has dramatically changed how we listen to consumers, how we collect data and how we database it. But we've really just started to scratch the surface of what we can do analytically, and as we start to integrate different forms of information, the power of what we'll be able to do with new technology will go up exponentially.

ARF: Which challenges still need to be resolved?

EC: I think the biggest challenge that we're facing in advertising is how to deal with the complexity of the media mix. Finding that right combination that leads to the whole being greater than the sum of its parts; understanding how each individual medium works with every other medium; developing creative messages that both translate across various platforms but also work together in an integrated and cohesive way -- these are the challenges our clients face every day.

ARF: How can we address the challenges of complexity?

EC: And as an industry, we have to really wrap our arms around attracting the right kind of talent to the business. We depend so much on the bright, excited, young people who come into our companies and into our industry and anything we can do – everything we can do –to be more a career of choice for the most talented people coming out of universities today is so important to the future of our industry.

ARF: What challenges does the future hold?

EC: The topics of the past are still very much the topics of the future. The whole issue of return on investment, the eternal question "is all of this work that I'm doing in the advertising space actually paying off for me?" will remain. We have the research and the insights to empower clients to answer that question and then the world changes around us. Our challenge will always be to constantly keep up with the ever-changing world and help clients really understand how to make those changes work for them to better connect with consumers and deliver ROI.

Want to hear more? Eileen Campbell will be joining Larry Chiagouris (Professor of Marketing, Pace University), Gian Fulgoni (Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, comScore), and Scott McDonald (Senior Vice President for Market Research, Condé Nast Publications)for a discussion of what we've learned in the past fifty years of advertising research at the ARF's Re:think Convention on March 23. Their session will celebrate the 50th Anniversary Special Edition of the Journal of Advertising Research. Registration is now open.