CommonSense Blog

PreCommerce Thought Leader Series: Gayle Fuguitt of ARF and the Importance of Experimentation

By Aaron Strout | Mar 13, 2015

gayleAs I mentioned in our set up post for our PreCommerce thought leader series, we are interviewing several of our speakers during our events the week of March 9. Next up is Gayle Fuguitt, CEO of the Advertising Research Foundation. For more information about our events during SXSW, go here.

Gayle became the first woman to lead The ARF when she became CEO and president in April 2013. She spent 32 years at General Mills, where she was lauded for bringing the voice of the consumer to the decision table. She has served on the board and executive committee of The ARF from 2005 to 2012.

[Aaron Strout] How is the advertising industry changing (beyond the obvious)?
[Gayle Fuguitt] The future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed”  (William Ford Gibson). We are obviously in a fragmented, dynamic, complex world filled with new fears like bots and fraud, but it’s more important to see the amazing opportunities that have been created for marketers today, and I’d like to make that distinction:  The c-suite is asking “do my marketing dollars drive growth and sales?” and “where should I spend my next dollar?

We have an amazing opportunity through our measurement mandate to embrace and advance new technology for better business decision. Media buying and planning is more sophisticated than ever before.

At the end of the day, it’s important to get down to our number one ground truth, first declared by the ARF in the early 60’s and then again in 1989:  Advertising Works.

[AS] Where do you think we are headed?
[GF] New technologies will catch up with the consumer today, but in pockets, and we will need to find the best of the best and evangelize and scale them across industries to drive the kind of business sales growth that our C-Suites are demanding.

The best insights will still come from a keen understanding and quantification of  “heart”:  What consumers’ values are and what they value that can be translated into brand value. We will get better and better at those insights, but the exciting breakthroughs are in the measurement of how the “heart” and emotional reactions connects to the head. Our second Ground Truth:  Brands are built in the brain, so we rely on neuroscience to unlock deep insights and predict sales growth better than ever before, to the feet where sales data can now be more easily aligned to media delivery.

[AS] If you had one piece of advice for marketers, what would it be?
[GF] Set aside 10 percent of your budget for pure experimentation and give it to the next generation to design and execute.

[AS] What are your thoughts on the rising importance of Storytizing (using the art of storytelling via paid, earned and shared channels)?
[GF] There’s nothing more important than a powerful story to drive personal connectivity to behaviors. Word of mouth is more important today than ever before. Consumers want and need to be connected, they seek each other out for ideas, inspiration, affirmation and solutions.

[AS] If you’ve attended SXSW in the past, what was your biggest takeaway?
[GF] I’m not even at SXSW, and I’m already blown away!

[AS] What is a trend that you expect (or hope) to see talked about most at SXSW this year and why?
[GF] Growth and Innovation, Art and Science combining to drive to new, never seen before solutions. Storytelling of successes AND failures, experimentation, trial and error. These are exciting times, and there’s never been a better time to be in marketing advertising or insights and analytics. Our time is now.