So, I’m off to the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) re:Think 2012conference next week. This started me “rethinking” how advertising has changed over the decades, and what that means for market insights professionals.

Back when I was born, advertising was a no-brainer. TV. If you could afford it. Only 3 channels to choose from so the “marketing mix model” was not really complicated. Did you need a lot of research to optimize your advertising? Hmmm, with all eyeballs tuned to you, research-optimized content probably was not as important as it is today (for a trip down memory lane, click here).

Fast-forward a few decades and customer choices have exploded. Has TV been killed by the Facebook star? Should you invest more in Google Adworks than traditional media column inches? If you do venture into social media, in which of the 1,000s of sites do you find your customers? And are they your best customers, i.e. the ones you really want to attract? It’s like playing Find Waldo, except that Waldo is a fickle consumer who keeps moving around.

What we need is a Flux Capacitor, like the one in the movie Back to the Future, that allows us to move our capabilities forward … so we can get back to the past when media decisions were a lot simpler. Unfortunately, a time machine is not in the works. But, at Forrester’s Customer Intelligence & Market Leadership Forum, we’ll be pulling back the curtain to show you some of the special mix which will help market insights professionals take this step forward so we can be more effective in guiding marketing and advertising decisions. Hint: it’s a mixture of customer intelligence, market insights and social media!

As always, we enjoy hearing your thoughts. Are your stakeholders asking you to advise on the optimal media placement and content choices? If so, have you found any approaches which allow you to help them find the best customers and create engaging content?

Finally, if you’re going to be at re:Think 2012, send me an email ( so we can connect.