Professor’s research not lost in translation

Professor Harald van Heerde makes his winning presentation at the 2015 Research Translation Competition.

Massey Business School’s Professor Harald van Heerde is known for the complicated modelling and huge data sets he uses to quantify the value of marketing activity. But his latest award is for translating his complex research into everyday language.

Professor van Heerde won the business school’s annual Research Translation Competition with a six-minute presentation on how online advertising can have a significant impact on offline sales.

The competition, now in its second year, challenges academics to make their research more accessible.

Judge Raewyn Rasch said Professor van Heerde was the clear winner because “his research was clearly of benefit to the business community and it was explained with confidence and in an engaging way”.

Professor Harald van Heerde discusses his broader research areas.

Measuring the full impact of advertising

Understanding the impact of advertising on sales is a big issue for any business and Professor van Heerde says too many managers base their marketing decisions on gut, rather than scientific data. The research he presented for the translation competition showed how advertising in one channel influences the sales in another channel.

“We calculated that online advertising, especially search engine advertising, had a large positive impact on in-store sales, while traditional advertising had very little impact on online sales,” Professor van Heerde said.

“What this means is that firms shouldn’t overlook the cross effects of their advertising when they are calculating the return on their investment. Online advertising is much more effective than traditional advertising, but you might not realise by how much if you only looked at online sales.”

Despite basing his presentation on a paper originally published in the Journal of Marketing Research, Professor van Heerde said he didn’t find it too hard to explain his research in non-academic terms.

“In essence I always try and write for managers with the objective of providing them with useful insights. There are some requirements for an academic paper that you obviously need to strip out – the mathematical modelling and the nitty gritty detail – but the findings themselves are usually quite clear and simple to understand.”

Professor van Heerde holds the MSA Charitable Trust Chair in Marketing at the Massey Business School and is currently ranked 11th in the world for marketing research by the American Marketing Association.

Other competition winners

  • Runners-up: Niki Murray and Margie Comrie for their presentation ‘Talking about immunisation: Making it easier for parents and health professionals’
  • Third place: Elizabeth Gray for her presentation ‘Is email really dead? The promises and pitfalls of electronic newsletters’

Early Career Research Awards:

  • Borhan Bhuiyan for his presentation ‘Are related party transactions red flags?
  • David Tappin for his presentation ‘Building on good ideas: an industry-led approach to injury prevention’
  • Niki Murray for her presentation ‘Talking about immunisation: Making it easier for parents and health professionals’


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