How does one put a value to what advertising delivers? Rory Sutherland in one of his TED Talks explained what we create in advertising is “intangible value”.

Contrast this with market research (MR) which is relatively more objective and tangible. Yet, MR is a favorite bugbear to complain against, as some do.

The difference is that in the case of advertising the final product is visible to the public.  Not so in the case of MR that helps at all stages, from business planning, innovation to competitive strategy. However client confidentiality means that the best findings and their applications cannot be shared in public.

Curiously it is when these two – advertising and MR work with each other that they showcase their utility and value best.

I always liked advertising, but truly fell in love with it when I started going through the various editions of ‘Advertising Works’ published by the IPA UK.  The case studies in these compilations would highlight the genesis of the advertising strategy, the execution, its rationale and then how and why each winning campaign had solved the clients marketing issue.  Great efforts would be taken to isolate each element of the market mix and illustrate exactly where the campaign had delivered – this included using tracking studies, econometrics, modeling, retail audit, shopper panel data etc.

Later on, as the EFFIES were launched across various markets, there were even more case studies available that illustrated how advertising was helping brands and clients across the globe including social causes.

And these case studies, in my opinion are the best showcases for both advertising and for MR.

MR is the best tool that can help in measuring and demonstrating campaign results and achievements.

In addition, as the case studies acknowledge, MR also serves a very vital purpose – in identifying the key issues and challenges a client/brand is facing.  This is a benefit that has been less celebrated and under-leveraged.

MR is the beacon that highlights the key gaps and opportunities for a client/brand (and as a result making the messenger very very unpopular). Following this, the marketing team and ad agency finalize which are the addressable opportunities, and the best way to go about it.

The much venerated David Ogilvy had worked in both sales and market research before joining advertising and he greatly appreciated MR’s  contribution.

Appropriately, the DAVID OGILY AWARDS  from the ARF acknowledge the MR agencies alongside  the creative agency for each shortlisted and winning case study.  Each case study details the contribution of MR and how this was used in developing the solution.

IMHO This is a ‘best practice‘ that needs to be encouraged by the other effectiveness awards as well.  This partnership will also benefit both parties, bringing in greater rigor and showcase best practices.

Both the industries – advertising and MR are evolving at a rapid place, and a favorite past-time of ‘experts’ and ‘spokespersons’ is to foretell the death of these industries. But by working together and generating examples of their continued effectiveness, utility and relevance, both advertising and MR can instead put such notions to death.


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