Audience ‘Listening’ May Eventually Drive Ad-Spend Decisions

A new frontier in advertising research is “listening” to consumers via the digital-media ether, and this embryonic slice of audience measurement may eventually emerge as a big driver of ad-spending-allocation decisions, speakers said a seminar during Advertising Week in New York.

“It’s about media, it’s about behavior and it’s about the brand … that are incredibly important in driving ‘big ideas’ in marketing,” said Jeff Flemings, vice president of renaissance planning at VivaKi, a unit of ad-agency giant Publicis Group.

Audience listening is possible because social Web sites, chat rooms, e-mail, blogging and other forms of personal expression in digital media are easily data mined. Flemings predicted that marketers increasingly will use a listening metric of brand buzz emanating from digital media to help decisions for ad spending and other marketing.

Audience listening is a brave new world. In the early days, the Internet was characterized by “chat rooms populated by geeky teen-agers and strange adults,” but now, the audience and discussion is mainstream, noted Jonathan Carson, president of international for Nielsen Online and a co-founder of BuzzMetrics, which Nielsen acquired. “It’s a big opportunity for the research industry and broader marketing, as well,” Carson added.

Audience listening goes beyond looking for consumers complaining about products to also tap into what they like or don’t understand. “Speaking is often motivated by a positive product experience,” Carson said.

Carson cited research that inquisitive consumers make a brand’s Web site their first stop for information 55% of the time, indicating that a company’s official Web site is a big influencer of brand buzz.

Now in its fifth year, Advertising Week is a series of seminars and events running in New York through Friday funded by media companies that are corporate sponsors of the event.

The Advertising Research Foundation sponsored the seminar.