Joel Rubinson

President, Rubinson Partners, Inc.

Joel is President of Rubinson Partners, Inc. marketing and research consulting for a brave new world. Prior to that, as Chief Research Officer at The ARF, Joel interacted directly with hundreds of research leaders and drove the organization’s initiatives regarding notably:

  • Research transformation (designing the future of the profession)
  • 360 media and marketing
  • Social media and listening
  • Online research data quality
  • Shopper insights

Joel helped build awareness of the ARF and its priorities by building a sizable social media presence via a blog that achieved thousands of page views each month and with a twitter profile of nearly 3,000 followers.

Prior to joining the ARF, Joel was Senior Vice-President, Head of Advanced Solutions for Synovate North America where he was their leading branding resource and was also the global thought leader for shopper research. Before joining Synovate, Joel was at the NPD Group for many years, leading the creation of tools for brand equity management (BrandBuilder), new product forecasting (ESP), category management and designed many of their data collection and sampling methodologies as NPD changed from paper diaries to online research. Joel started his research career at Unilever.

Joel is also a published author of numerous papers in professional journals and frequent speaker at industry conferences. He has taught the official American Marketing Association advanced tutorial on brand loyalty and lectured at Columbia, NYU, Wharton, Amos Tuck School, and University of Rochester, among others. Joel holds an MBA in statistics and economics from the University of Chicago and a BS from NYU.

  • Posted on: 10/04/2019

    Should companies have to pay you to use your personal data?

    I know that The MIT Media Lab in 2009 felt this way too. HOWEVER -- people ARE being paid for their data, IT'S CALLED FREE CONTENT! And guess what? this has existed since the early days of TV, newspapers (couldn't be profitable without ad revenues), radio, etc. Now, if Yang and others want to change the economic exchange, fine, let's see a legitimate proposal on how that would work. The only other element to bring up is that when marketers advertise on free media, there is no guarantee that people pay any attention. If consumers want to get paid for their data they must agree to being in a virtual room where they guarantee to pay attention -- sounds complicated! Under the current system, I even think privacy protection like GDPR has gone way overboard. I think the current system is probably the best of all worlds, sorry Yang.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2019

    What is Amazon’s ultimate Alexa strategy?

    Ever since Siri, marketers and technologists are thinking voice is the next big interface. Maybe so, maybe not, but it is too big of a risk for Amazon to not go all-in on this. So there are both offensive and defensive elements to Alexa. If Alexa is a source of information on how people live their lives at home or in their car (yes, Alexa is built into some models), then it adds to the segments they can offer for targeting. The ad tech side of Amazon is already north of $10 billion of 50 percent margin business. In addition, if voice activation can make buying easier, it adds to their advantage vs. other online retailers. Amazon has always been in the business of "simple" and voice/AI can be thought of as an extension of implementing that winning strategy.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2019

    Do retail metrics need to be reinvented?

    When I see a new set of metrics proposed, presumably because marketing and retailing have changed in a technology enabled age, and ALL of the metrics could have been used 20 years ago, it seems like the thinking is not bold enough. If the world is changing, the metrics should be very different. How about breaking down the silos across physical and digital and then calculating metrics like these:
    • Number of customers in the database with PII (used for targeting or to create your own ad network.) Traffic rate (online and offline).
    • Conversion of visitors (digital or physical) to transactors.
    • Percent customers who are interacting both online and offline.
    • Lift in transactions (online or offline) based on ad exposure (exposed vs. virtual control).
    • Conversion of those inside a geo-fence actually walking into my store.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2019

    Will Jockey inspire brand loyalty with its very first pop-up shop?

    This is definitely as much a brand play as a retail play. My opinion is that it will have an effect but brand lift will be really hard to measure because of the geo-specificity.
  • Posted on: 09/03/2019

    Walmart and BuzzFeed deliver shoppable recipes

    There are a lot of ways this can turn out to be a nice win and immediate sales might be the least of them. This builds engagement and anticipation for the next recipe (which might be really interesting), and shows that Walmart is going out of its way to care about customers. Then there is the home run -- make a recipe that turns out great and generates accolades.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2019

    When does marketing cross an ethical line?

    I always hated negative opt in -- if you don't tell us you don't want the book of the month, you get the book of the month. Same today with "free trials" in digital. You enter your credit card and the subscription will start past the trial period unless you cancel, but it becomes really hard sometimes to figure out how to cancel (often no customer service number is even available). I guess this falls into the theme of giving consumers the illusion of control.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2019

    Location-based marketing is spreading beyond smartphones

    In general consumers are getting more attuned to privacy protection and their ability to opt out. It is featured in the browsers and soon Chrome (market leader) will make opt outs for cookies easy. However, smartphones are less susceptible. For example, apps use ad IDs. Also, note that location data is not only used for ad serving, it is used for conversion data (e.g. advertise Burger King -- did more people actually visit a Burger King?). For conversion data, only mobile is relevant. For advertising placement, I'd say second to mobile would be Digital Out Of Home (DOOH).
  • Posted on: 05/24/2019

    Questions abound about the value of net promoter scores

    The NPS is incomplete ... that is its biggest problem. It cannot be used to measure the interest of likely customers in your brand yet nearly half of many business' buyer bases come from non-users the prior year. Another problem is that it is highly influenced by how different cultures use scales. An NPS in the U.S. cannot be compared to one from Japan (I have seen global NPS studies and it is impossible.) NPS is simple, that is its benefit and there IS some value to the metric. But the only number you will ever need? Puh-leez ...
  • Posted on: 05/22/2019

    Should retail boards include seats for store associates?

    Bernie Sanders' suggestion of associates on the board might have some merit, just like Lee Iacocca put the union on the board. HOWEVER, the rest of his socialist agenda is nuts. Who is he to say what a CEO deserves to make? The free market determines what the multiplier should be. So basically, the Bernie Sanders "ice man cometh" world would require an analysis of every business in America and mandating wages, comp packages, etc. Let him start with the money stars make for pictures vs. production crew, or boxing champs vs. sparring partners, or Clinton speeches vs. admins who report the schedules ... on and on. Madness.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2019

    Gen Z survey: Brands get drowned out in all the cause marketing noise

    Might be the way the questions are asked. If you asked what social values a brand is associated with, I bet you would see a lot more association. The sponsoring of causes is a way to get to those associations. So if the consumer cannot remember the cause but they retain the societal value associated with the brand, that still counts!
  • Posted on: 05/13/2019

    What’s wrong with the (fill in the blank) category?

    I'd say we need to slow that roll -- isn't it the job of the category captain to prevent the decline in a particular retailer and to analyze it fully? Is the category declining everywhere or just that retailer? I do not buy the questionable research by the Columbia professor that more choices leads to less buying (other academics had difficulty replicating her results.) On the other hand, a proliferation of SKUs could mean it is time to completely reexamine how the shelf is organized.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2019

    Who is winning the shopping search race — Amazon or Google?

    I consult to a company that has amazing longitudinal behavioral data. So far, all of the case studies I have analyzed showed more search on Google BUT a much higher conditional probability of going to a product page IF the search occurred on Amazon. Hence, for the question, I'd say Google has a ways to go to rival Amazon for shopper-purposed search. BTW, I have to comment that an attitudinal approach to addressing this issue seems a bit too old school.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2019

    Will shoppable ads help Walmart’s Vudu compete with Amazon and Netflix?

    Walmart has a big play it can make in ad tech but this isn't it. Their play should be based on shopping behaviors revealing brand and category intenders. Vudu is a media player where ads can be placed (like Amazon offers ads on Kindle Fire). Video content isn't a good place for shoppable content because we shop at a different pace from the pace we have when we watch TV content to be entertained. To interrupt the flow of the video content to shop a new coffee maker in a kitchen scene? I just don't see it.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2019

    Will America’s love for paper coupons ever die?

    I wonder if it has something to do with a preference for physical things in a physical world. The ergonomics are actually sometimes better with paper. A related example ... if I need to speak with an agent at the airport I prefer a physical boarding pass. No waking the phone up, unlock codes, battery levels. On the other hand, I really doubt there is a preference for physical coupons vs. discount codes in e-commerce. Simplicity is important.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2019

    Hubert Joly: New Best Buy CEO has the right stuff to lead chain to new heights

    My advice to Best Buy is to master digital from a commitment and technology POV but MOST IMPORTANTLY, as a brand-led play. Every possible way that they can make it wrong for a consumer to go to Amazon or Walmart for home electronics, technology, appliances, they have to go for that. why does Amazon have 10 times the share of Walmart online? Pricing? Breadth of offers? I doubt it ... it's brand and the search pattern habits that consumers adopt. So Best Buy -- brand, brand, BRAND!

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