Keeping a Pulse on Consumers is Product Management

Anastasia Goodstein, Senior Vice President of Digital at The Advertising Council, and Rachelle Reeder, Director of Strategy and Evaluation at The Advertising Council, share how they adapt to emerging consumer trends and technologies and utilize experimentation to launch campaigns that make an impact.

Consumers are always changing. And it’s critically important for Anastasia and Rachelle to be attuned to those changes given their roles launching digital products for PSA campaigns that create social change at Ad Council.

Ad Council tackles the most urgent issues that Americans face today. But the landscape in which they do it has changed considerably since the organization was founded, 76 years ago.

Major news events can shift consumer perceptions of important social issues, and new media technologies have changed the way that they consume content. Anastasia and Rachelle have adapted accordingly.

Rachelle shares how they conducted research to keep a pulse on changes in the market for their latest campaign:

We did initial exploratory research in late 2016, early 2017, but we know a lot has changed since then. We used Feedback Loop to help us get a pulse on what the new cultural landscape was, to see what had changed since we had done that initial exploratory research a couple years ago...In this day and age, things are changing all the time. We're bombarded by new things that are happening in the social and cultural environment and it's really important for us to know what's going on out there.

Now, instead of simply conducting some initial research and then launching a campaign and seeing if it works, Ad Council iterates throughout a campaign’s lifecycle to ensure that they are aligned with consumers and maximizing impact. Anastasia describes this shift:

Whereas I think in the past, maybe we do formal usability after site launched to then see if people could use it, and I think there's still a role for that kind of testing post-launch as well, but I think what's new for us as we evolve is to build that into the entire development process - making sure that what we're building is really centered on the user.

Rachelle discusses how creating user personas helped them align with their market:

We knew every little factoid about them. But really, if we weren't able to humanize who they are, we weren't going to be able to show [enough] empathy [and] create something that would be effective. The persona was a way that we brought all of our research insights into one place and brought our audience to life.

The strategies and techniques that Anastasia and Rachelle share are incredibly impressive, but their approach is about more than just launching campaigns. Ad Council is changing it’s brand and culture and incorporating experimentation into its everyday work. Anastasia describes the transformation that's happening within the organization:

While our history is very important to us, we're evolving and we're innovating both internally, and in terms of how we're working with our partners. [We're] bringing this mindset of experimentation and testing and iteration to all that we do.

You’ll learn a lot from this episode about user research, iteration and becoming a more consumer insight-driven organization.

Here are the highlights:

  • What is Ad Council and how is it evolving? (4:30)
  • Anastasia and Rachelle explain their approach to conducting user research (8:25)
  • How Rachelle utilizes user personas to build empathy (11:46)
  • Anastasia describes how she applies cutting edge product management strategies (13:47)
  • How Ad Council is transforming its culture and the way its teams work (16:45)

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