How consumers around the world use connected devices

Geoffrey Precourt

What would an advertising research conference be without a mother lode of factoid nuggets? The Advertising Research Foundation's (ARF) Re:think 2013 event in New York was rich in theory. But a variety of speakers and panelists - among them, thought leaders from the likes of Time Inc., GfK and Nielsen - offered the kind of granularity that presented a glimpse into the vastly complex new marketing research ecosystem.

Not all of the information came easily: Matthias Hartmann, GfK's chief executive, told an ARF keynote audience the story of a consumer study program in Germany. A group of participants, he said, surrendered their smartphones so the market research firm could study their behavior without that handheld digital advantage.

The program was a failure. "We couldn't finish the study," Hartmann said. "Most of them rang us after a couple of days and said, 'I need my phone. I can't participate in the study. I can hardly live without it.'"