NEW YORK: Accurately predicting sales must be regarded as the ultimate "success metric" for the market research industry, according to a leading executive from Procter & Gamble.

Joan Lewis, Procter & Gamble's global consumer and market knowledge officer, discussed the importance of tackling this complex task at the Advertising Research Foundation's (ARF) Audience Measurement 9.0 conference.

"The metric that we have to be aiming for – the success metric – has to be sales. Nothing else matters," she said. (For more, including insights from the ARF, 4A's, IAB and ANA, read Warc's exclusive report: Brands, researchers and the new "measurement mandate".)

A focus on sales does not mean the measures that market researchers have traditionally tracked are irrelevant, Lewis added – but they do need to be viewed through the proper lens.

"There are indicators; there are leading indicators; there are way-finders: we love those things. I am the biggest champion for insights people," she told delegates at the event.

"But we've got to be able to predict sales. Nothing else really matters when the initial challenge for me is to help my company grow."

Lewis went on to outline a variety of tasks facing the research industry, which included stepping up to meet a "measurement challenge" and a "leadership challenge".

"We have the measurement and leadership mandate, and we have to come together on common metrics," she asserted.

"And by common metrics I mean … no black boxes, things that are understandable across and recombinable across different providers and different types of media."

The motivation for brand owners in demanding progress in this area is all too apparent, as the requirement of fully demonstrating return on investment continues to attract considerable attention.

"For those of us on the advertiser-side of this equation, we have a growth challenge. We feel it acutely every day," said Lewis.

"We need our dollars to work harder, we need to be able to grow our businesses more aggressively, we need to meet consumer needs more effectively and we need stronger brands to do that."

Data sourced from Warc