ARF AM5 Day 1: Bacon! No, not that bacon.

Kevin Bacon.

Image via Wikipedia

Welcome to New York!

As a blogger, I ought to begin with full disclosure (so I learned today). This was the first ARF conference I’ve attended so my remarks reflect the opinions of a newbie.

Compared to the last few conferences I’ve attended, this one had the most jam-packed session schedule (8am start to 6pm finish), and the shortest break times (15 min). Phew! We barely had time to breathe before the next session started! There was almost no time for networking if you wanted to catch every single session.

The day started with what could potentially be the most boring talk ever – the US census. But it wasn’t. A few cute stories, including one about a lady dressing in her sunday best and waiting for the enumerator to arrive in 1930, and other interesting research details made it a great keynote. As researchers, we found it quite humorous that their goal is a 100% response rate when we struggle to achieve rates in the teens. And numerous speakers afterwards were eager to reference it in their talks.

Since I’ve never been to an ARF conference, I’m not sure what is new or different. But, compared to other conferences, I’ve already learned far more at this one. I probably have less experience in advertising than most attendees so that was probably a big factor. It was great to hear new factoids and new theories instead of rehashing ones I’ve heard five times before.

I also noticed a greater tendency to discuss stats and research not just ideas. There was constant talk of regression models, significance tests, test control methods, and confidence intervals, words which rarely come up at other conferences. It certainly met with my approval and I hope to see tons more of it at MRA and MRIA! That is, not including the session which seemed to masquerade regression as a new fangled branded proprietary tool. It just felt like taking advantage of people who might not realize it’s just regression.

Lunch, of course, must be discussed. Lovely salad with a choice of hot dishes and a choice of cakes. Cheesecake and carrot cake since you ask. Attendees had the choice of sitting at a company sponsored table where they could talk business with that company, or a regular table where you could talk anything with anyone. I tried both. I started with a social media table for the main course and then drifted to a regular table for desert. The topic table was an interesting idea. Everyone was ready to hear about the same idea. But it only works if your table moderator stays at the table. Oops!

I made great use of the flip camera I won from the ARF. Stay tuned for the video on how BP is six degrees from Kevin Bacon! Mmmm bacon.

Day 1 score? A!

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