Activator is Next Generation Tracking: A Manifesto

19 Aug 2014|Brian Kushnir

Today, we’re launching Activator.

Activator is Next Generation Tracking, built for the way marketing works now.

Let me explain.

Marketing is in the midst of a big bang.  The pace of change is frenetic, getting faster, and shows no sign of letting up.  New ways of advertising and communicating emerge nearly every day, from digital to mobile to social to experiential and beyond, along with new forms of media and devices where people are consuming, making and sharing content.

Amidst this big bang, marketers still need to measure the impact of their work, and the strategic questions they face are more complex than ever.  And yet, the traditional way of answering these questions through brand and advertising tracking comes from a time when marketing was straightforward and stable.  It’s no longer safe to assume that a system designed to quantitatively capture awareness and brand opinion from broadcast, print, and outdoor media will be robust and effective in today’s world.

At the same time, there’s an explosion of data available to marketers, from social to behavioral to sales … to data that comes directly from the products themselves via the Internet of Everything.  Data is all around us, and yet most tracking is still focused mostly on survey data, with a nod to incorporating social media for context.   Now, survey data is still critically important in tracking, because it gives us the chance to ask very specific questions of people.  But is survey and social enough?   And is the answer simply to include more forms of data?

We’ve been thinking about these questions and believe that it’s about bringing the right data, not just any data, to the party.  So with Activator, we developed a rigorously agile approach to integrate the primary, secondary, and proprietary data streams that are most directly related to our clients’ strategic questions, and deliver a customized, multi-contextual view of their brand.  One way we do this is with TimeView, our online platform where we and our clients can visualize and play with the data, looking at the big, integrated picture or digging down as deep as needed.

There’s also increasing recognition that today’s most impactful marketing is increasingly done in real-time – Ellen’s selfie at the Oscars, the Oreo tweet during the Super Bowl – and because of that, the idea has emerged that real time insights are also needed.

We think real time isn’t fast enough.

And here’s why.  It takes a lot of planning to make those real-time, seemingly off the cuff moments happen. For tracking to be impactful and relevant to our client’s businesses, it can’t just be about looking back, and even insights in the moment may not be enough.  With Activator we anticipate what’s ahead, giving marketers a view from the future, and an understanding of what will resonate.  We do this by infusing both predictive analytics and cultural insights to give clear direction on where to focus, how best to spend, and what to do to keep your brand culturally vibrant.

Tracking has traditionally been about delivering insights to marketers about the state of their brands and how their advertising is working.  But today, insights alone won’t deliver the kind of business impact that our clients are seeking.  We must go further and activate, teaming with our brand strategists to transform insights into impactful brand stories and a roadmap of actionable strategies.  We start by stepping beyond the boundary of supplier to work as a trusted partner to our clients.  We bring a toolkit, like BrandView for on-the-fly digital reports, and AV Lab for virtual project rooms and co-creation.  And Activation Sessions, a well-orchestrated process that takes the ‘workshop’ to the next level by immersing participants in the culture of the category, using data-driven storytelling and strategic frameworks to help create plans of action.

Integrate.  Anticipate.  Activate.  All in the service of data-driven strategic brand guidance for our clients.

We’re launching Activator today and having conversations with clients and friends about Next Generation Tracking, because the need for a new tracking paradigm is stronger than ever.  Tracking should be current, future focused, and strategic.  It should deal with the way marketing works today, and should be agile and nimble to evolve in a fast moving world.  The results should be delivered with clarity and creative impact, look sharp, and excite the CMO as much as the Head of Insights.

This is the kind of Next Generation Tracking that we do at Added Value.  Please contact me ( if you’d like to join the conversation.


Further Reading:

Transforming Tracking: From Rearview Mirror to Brand Activator

A Next Generation Approach to Brand Equity Tracking

Cultural Traction

An app like Yo could be bigger than Twitter

Levi’s launches interactive shoppable film.

Facebook stages ‘publishing garages’

The dawn of ‘chatvertising’

Having an Oreo moment takes a heck of a lot of planning.

Adding Big Data Booster Packs to Survey Data

Adidas hails analytics as brand experience enabler


Image credit: Thinkstock

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