The advertising industry is engaged in a growing research effort to push the boundaries of marketing. It wishes, for example, to reach deeply into our unconscious mind in order to generate a range of behavioral responses. Marketers are exploring how the new tools of digital advertising can influence consumer emotions.
For example, Google is now engaged in consumer neuroscience research to make its YouTube ads more effective. But Google wants more academic help so it can improve its digital marketing prowess. So Google and global ad giant WPP have joined forces to create “a new research program to improve understanding and practices in online marketing, and to better understand the relationship between online and offline media.” The program will be run by a trio of scholars, including Google’s own Hal Varian, Professor John Quelch, senior associate dean of Harvard Business School (who is a a non-executive director of WPP), and Professor Glen Urban, former dean of the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Varian told DM News that â€œWe want to encourage more research about how online and offline media work together to influence consumer choices. We think that such research will contribute to more effective and more measurable advertising performance.â€ DM News also reported that Mark Read, CEO of WPP Digital and WPP’s director of strategy explained that â€œ[T]he industry, our clients and our companies will benefit from the application of some of the world’s finest academic research minds into how online media influences consumers.”
Don’t expect, by the way, any grants to be awarded that examine the ethical dimensions of interactive marketing; or new threats to personal privacy and autonomy; the implications of Google’s growing global control over online ad revenues on publishing; or the negative environmental and social consequences of promoting a digital marketing system which could lead to over-consumption.
Here are some of the research questions Google hopes will draw academics into its program:
- How does a brand establish a framework for assessing how much should be spent online? How much advertising should be directed at brand development versus specific click generation?…
- How do you set digital advertising budgets and tactics when in intensively competitive product categories?…
- What are good guidelines for moving traditional video spots from broadcast to broadband?
- What is the causal relationship between brand health and search success? And what is the link between search and sales? How does search contribute to word of mouth recommendation?
- How can banner ads be more effective?
- How do you model the consumer response to digital advertising in social networks or mobile media?
- What do we know and what more do we need to know about on-line audiences?
- How can advertisers be welcome in social networks?
- Recipients will be invited to attend a conference in Fall 2009 (Sept/Oct) where they can share their preliminary findings.