Standing before a crowd of 2,000-plus at the Association of National Advertisers' annual 2012 Masters of Marketing Conference, Bob Liodice, the organization's president/ceo, set the bar for the conference, pledging lessons in performance from his keynote speakers.

The focus, he said, would be on the impact of marketing on business. "Great marketing isn't great unless it is validated by terrific business results," he argued. "Superb business performance is what CEOs and shareholders expect from us. And it will only happen through the collaborative effort of advertisers, agencies, media owners, publishers, suppliers and vendors. Otherwise, it's all for naught."

Photo: Clarion Pictures (taken at 2012 ANA Annual Conference)

Liodice's "state of the Industry" conference-opening address included a series of observations and objectives, including four key issues facing the industry.

Brands and Brand-Building: "I'm amazed that we spend such precious little time and investment understanding the changing economic value of our brands… According to Millward Brown and WPP, brand value has grown 66% between 2006 and 2012."

Media Investment: "Media growth will be about 5% this year. In this relatively weak economic environment-an environment slowed by fears of the fiscal cliff, the European hangover and the pullback in the Chinese economy-5% is a pretty good performance."

He added that marketers were becoming increasingly savvy about which media drive greater returns on investment. He pointed to "higher-end" growth opportunities:

  • Digital: 17% increase in spend.
  • Mobile: 97% increase in spend.
  • Social: a $4 billion channel that will grow to $10 billion by 2016.
  • Interactive television advertising is "booming and is expected to grow nearly 17% this year".
  • Digitally placed advertising will grow by 11%.
  • "Good old television" advertising expenditures will increase in 2012 by 6% over 2011.

Measurement and accountability: "Frankly, marketers have been fed up with the inability of our industry to make sense of measurement and to give marketers the tools they need to make better marketing decisions."

On the upside, however, the ANA head cited two achievements:

  • 3MS (Making Measurement Make Sense - a cross-industry drive for consistent standards in digital measurement). "It has advanced digital advertising measurement and cross-platform analytics… standardizing the 'viewable impression' and moving decidedly away from the 'served impression'."
  • Media Rating Council: "This industry has sorely needed an independent, trusted body to bring the highest quality measurement practices to our industry… The MRC has accepted the challenge.

On the ANA wish list is brand-specific commercial ratings for television. Said Liodice: "Marketers are leaving millions of dollars on the table in lost productivity and sub-standard business decisions due to the lack of reliable ratings information."

Self-regulation: "[This] is the jewel of the advertising industry. It is the most important founding principle we have in the marketing community. Nothing, but nothing, is more precious than this."

The accomplishments of advertising self-regulation include, he said, the Digital Advertising Alliance, which addresses "online behavioral advertising and related privacy issues".

With that in mind, Liodice said that the ANA board of directors was "very disappointed in the privacy-related decisions Microsoft made with its upcoming release of Internet Explorer 10. Microsoft's decision to set the 'do not track' feature in the 'on' position will likely cause irreparable damage to the advertising industry.

"This decision prevents marketers from collecting the data they need to provide focused, targeted online advertising. It also robs consumers of the opportunity to make informed choices that the DAA pledged as part of its founding, core principles."