The INFORMS Marketing Science Conference is like woodstock for us people.

I took in the second half of the MSI anniversary track.

The MSI, or Marketing Science Institute, is a 50 year old institution. It’s at the nexus between business and marketing science academia. As a result, it has money and databases. Because it has both, it gets to set research priorities that are influential.

The 90 minute track I took in had to do with page 8 of their list, “Managing Brands in a Transformed Marketplace”. I can’t resist.

Branding is a problem for Marketing Scientists for many reasons. It is not transactional, it may be measured in many ways, it manifests itself in many ways, and it subject to time lags.

Direct attribution folks are able to understand many things owing to the extremely clean nature of their data. They have a lot in common with finance in that respect. Direct attribution folk tend to gravitate towards direct marketing. It’s all very clean.

Branding is not transactional. A large amount of money goes in. What comes out? What comes out is very difficult to quantify. Sure, there are brand tracking studies and instruments like the Net Promoter Score. These are based on survey methodology. And those methods are not explicitly prospective, predictive, or linked in a way that an accountant can understand. Worse, such tracking is typically deemed ‘market research’, not ‘analytics’. There’s a huge range of freedom and flexibility in how to define success. It’s extremely resistant to standardization.

The perception of brands and branding efforts vary by country and culture.

The monetary effect of branding is cumulative and heavily time lagged. The effects last well beyond the initial investment.

Problems are good, because they raise opportunities.

We need a more structured way of thinking about brands. It should exist.

The first day went very well.

2 thoughts on “INFORMS Marketing Science 2011 – Day 1

  1. Jim Novo says:

    Way cool you are at the INFORMS show!

    Here’s the way I look at above, should it be useful.

    For some time a brand was an “image”, what you thought of / felt when you heard the word “BMW”, “Nair”, etc. This was appropriate for a business model when broadcasting ruled and the game was essentially to create “personal badges” around the use of products.

    I’d argue since the advent of so much direct communication with consumers one-on-one, brand is no longer “what you say” it’s “what you do”, and proof or evidence of brand is being plastered all over the web.

    So today, when one gets to the measurement of success in “brand advertising”, things are less complicated, because measurement of brand is more about the success of the advertising (lift) than measuring the intangibles of brand image and so forth. You could say most consumers discount much of “what you say”, so what is left of the ad impact is Awareness, Intent, Desire and so forth – not image. Image comes from “what you do”.

    In direct, since the relationship has always been one-on-one, most folks have always followed the “brand is what you do” model since they did not have a choice – that’s the model. Thus the practice of listening to and responding to customer feedback that has always been a hallmark of direct, way before there was an Internet or a web.

    Therefore: If you want to measure pure Brand, the image, don’t measure advertising, measure reputation / service / satisfaction.

    Make any sense?

  2. Christopher Berry says:

    Hi Jim,

    Yes. That makes perfect sense. Measure the DV that is the aim of the actual advertising, not the confirmation that advertising inf act occurred. I suppose this is the difference between accounting (read: trust but verify through reporting) and actual analytics (read: exploring the relationship between an observed effect, and attributing cause).

    There’s a double chain here.

    Now…if there was only a way to make the link.

    (And I don’t believe a single bronze bullet question like NPS is enough!)

    I’m excited for this challenge, sir. 😉

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