Editor's note: Jeri Smith is CEO at Communicus, a Tucson, Ariz., research firm.

While there’s rigorous debate about the best ways to measure advertising effectiveness, there is generally high-level agreement about how advertising works. Quite simply, the conventional wisdom holds that consumers see ads and thus are persuaded to think, feel or do something differently as a result of the ad experience.

From here, research paths diverge in a number of different directions, depending on individual vantage points. For example, insights professionals who focus on the creative aspects of the ad tell us that the ad must convey something meaningful or resonate emotionally. Those who live in the world of media planning and buying tell us that the ad will be more effective if it appears in the right environment or at the right time and they tell us that the ad’s persuasive power will wear out after too many exposures.

This is all true and very many wise and learned researchers and insights professionals have spent their careers fine-tuning and validating measurement approaches that are designed to evaluate and diagnose the persuasive power of an ad or a media buy. There have been hits and misses along the way but as of this writing, we have a relatively robust set of tools that can be employed to ensure that each individual ad, at least those with sufficient spending to be worthy of the research investment, is rigorously studied and optimized from both creative and media standpoints.

This is not to say that these tools can’t be further improved; of course they can. As the media environment continues to evolve, as our technological capabilities improve, as consumers become increasingly more ad-resistant and as marketing directors become ever more insistent on having data that enables “real-time” shifts, the tools with which we examine ad performance must continue to evolve.

However, the further we t...