Highlights from the Media Insights & Engagement Conference


By: Ben Proctor, Insights Strategist

Had a great time in Miami listening to some of the brightest in the business present their work.  Check out our Twitter feed for recaps and also head over to the Institute for International Research blog to check out Ben’s live blogging.


Best and worst of Superbowl XLVIII

Lyndsay Katz

By: Lyndsay Katz, Insights Associate

The Best:

T-Mobile Tim Tebow – “We’ll buy out your contract”

Relevant AND funny, this tops the list of best ads in a rather lackluster year for both commercials and football. T-Mobile, who is not known for being the most up-to-date mobile carrier, managed to bring itself to the forefront by stressing their promise to buy out your previous cell phone contract, illustrated with humor through the inclusion of unsigned Tim Tebow. The #nocontract hashtag was related to both the star and the brand, unlike many others that are attempting to use social media for the sake of it.

Budweiser – Clydesdale/puppy love

Budweiser and Bud Light dominated Super Bowl XLVIII in terms of sheer amount of time. Their clear winner though was the adorable relationship between the golden retriever puppy and signature Clydesdale horse. It felt on point with previous Budweiser ads in the overall theme while still managing to be creative and original. This was also helped out by pre-Super Bowl buzz, as the ad was released the week before to rave reviews.

Radio Shack – The 80’s called

It’s always nice to see a company acknowledge its shortcomings. Radio Shack stayed humorous with its “stuck in the past” montage of 80’s characters and fashions. It was memorable and to-the-point: this is what we used to be, and it’s going to change.

The Worst:

Kia – Matrix spoof

Not bad, had it been 10 years earlier. It was actually very well-done in terms of mirroring the actual scene, but too outdated, and taken too far with the singing. It ends on a bad “trying too hard” note that seems to plague many Super Bowl ads.

Hyundai – Johnny Galecki “Nice”

In a sea of car commercials, this only stuck out for the wrong reasons. Exploding cars, poor dialogue, and awkward celebrity cameos are not the ingredients to a successful commercial. More cringe-inducing than anything, especially the #nicehashtag addition.

Bud Light – Cool Twist

$4 million to advertise a new bottle cap? Uninspired content (colder than cold?) paired with club music just leave this commercial miles behind the other Budweiser ads.


How Google Glass may be the future of market research

Lyndsay Katz

By: Lyndsay Katz, Insights Associate

David Zakariaie, CEO of Glassic , gave an eye-opening (no pun intended) presentation about the potential future applications of Google Glass in market research. Glassic is a Los Angeles based company looking to extend the capabilities of Google Glass. While the general population may not yet be ready for this device, here is an outline of some of the practical uses of Google Glass for research folks:

1. Ethnographies feel a lot less scripted – The main benefit of an in-home interview such as ethnography is getting that little window into the mind of another; how they behave, interact with others, how they conduct certain activities, etc. With a tool that allows consumers to record themselves in their day-to-day life without the intrusion of another person pestering them with questions, ethnographies become a lot less invasive and a lot more authentic.

This can also be applied with a shop-along or any other joint activity. The main drawback of traditional qualitative research is the difference between what people say they do and what they actually do, especially when they’re being recorded. Google Glass would allow participants to behave more naturally, eliminating that personal bias to an extent.

2. Built-in eye tracking – Google Glass is an easy way to see where someone is looking, whether it’s during package testing, ad testing, or any other variation. If presented with a shelf of goods, it’s an innate way to see where someone’s eye is drawn to first. Eye-tracking is used in some manners of market research already, but it’s generally in a laboratory-like setting rather than a natural environment. Google Glass could be a big player in helping to bridge that gap.

3. Conscious vs. Non-conscious interactions – Again, there is the inherent dichotomy between how people act and how they say they act. With Google Glass, participants in a study wouldn’t necessarily know when they are being recorded. With their consent, they may be told to wear the Glass for 3 days, and that the researcher would randomly “tune in” to see how they are behaving at any point. This allows the researcher to tap into the non-conscious behaviors rather than conscious – the products/ ads that people focus on without even realizing, what they do naturally without even thinking, and what they gravitate towards without making a conscious decision to pay attention.

When will this multi-capable tool be available for public use? No one really knows for sure. When it does happen though, it’s a guarantee that researchers will want to snag them to be at the forefront of the future of research technology.

Driving America Crazy

By: Ben Proctor, Insights Strategist

I’ve always found it a little scary that we can theoretically drive, forever, based on a single test at the age of 16.  So, I couldn’t help but laugh when looking through the 2013 Yankelovich US MONITOR and landing on the million dollar statement, “I’ll never be too old to drive.”  38% – which means, like, millions and millions of people – feel that this is true, agreeing or even strongly agreeing.

But that’s not what made me laugh.  The funny part is that this number dips down to 31% among 55 to 64-year olds, before rebounding to 41% among people 65+!  A 10-point jump, as we get older!

Now, when I’m 65, I’m sure I’ll want to kick you out of my house when you come over and take my license, or even ask me to take a driving test.  But couple this data with the fact that people over the age of 65 are also the most apt to drink alcohol on a daily basis (also from the 2013 Yankelovich US MONITOR) and yikes.  What a world!  And isn’t market research fun?

All data referenced in this article comes from the 2013 Yankelovich US MONITOR

Are moderators forgetting how to talk to people?

By: Ben Proctor, Insights Strategist

As published at http://researchindustryvoices.com/ on January 12, 2014

There’s no question that it’s a great time to be a researcher. Brands have more questions than ever and our bag of tricks is overflowing with different ways to get answers for them. But as we continue to shift our methodology toward digital diaries and virtual ethnographies and remote user experience, we have to stop and ask whether we’re starting to forget something important: really talking to real people.

I’d be the last to say that technology isn’t amazing and that my life and career aren’t 1,000 times easier because of it. But when I find myself in the conference room talking to consumers in a “traditional” focus group, I start to get a little worried. Am I going to remember what to say to these people? Am I going to ask them to G Chat with their peers when what I really want is for them to turn and talk to their neighbor? That hasn’t happened yet – but it could.

So my question is this: What do we need to do as researchers to stay sharp and remember how to have a CONVERSATION?

We all know that the best insights come when you toss the moderator’s guide aside and talk to people as though they were – wait for it – people.  So what are the tricks we’re using today to keep the conversation flowing and the personal connection present even as we continue to migrate deeper into the online universe?

One of my favorites has always been to acknowledge that what we’re doing is often stupid. This is blasphemy, you say. But think about it: For us, spending all day talking to people about the exact shade of red on a soda bottle could be the most important aspect of our entire quarter. But for the average person, the response is that we should be doing something better with our time. So I’ve always found that lightening the mood can be a lifesaver. Whether it’s in person or in a chat room, a quick joke can say 1,000 words. A nonchalant demeanor can say even more. If we allow ourselves as moderators to enter the mind-set of the respondent and realize that they could very well not care whatsoever about what we’re talking about, we can produce some of the most meaningful insights we’ll ever encounter.

The trick here is in getting people to want to keep US interested. I’ve always hated when moderators tell a quiet room to “Speak up…it’s what we’re paying you for” or that “I’m going to get berated by my client if you don’t talk so please help me out.” But if the moderator seems like he/she is only as interested in the discussion as the respondents, I often find that the conversation improves. The respondents suddenly want to keep the moderator from falling asleep. I am now a person who has joked around with these people – who they hopefully like and would maybe even want to hang out with. Do they want ME to be bored? No more than they want to be bored themselves.

So consider this: A project could be the most stressful thing in the world for one of us but it’s an hour or two out of the lives of a respondent. If we can treat things that way, take a breather and have some fun with our jobs, just maybe we’ll get more out of a conversation than that rigid, 45-page moderator’s guide ever could.

What are some of your tricks? And how, together, can we make sure that we help each other remember how to have a tweet – I mean, conversation?

– See more at: http://researchindustryvoices.com/#sthash.Ry0ejxlJ.dpuf

Brands Look to Encourage Communication with Consumers

Lyndsay Katz

By: Lyndsay Katz, Insights Associate

My college advertising professor took great pride in telling our class on our very first day that advertisers are considered some of the least trustworthy professionals, second only to car salesmen1 (ouch). As disheartening as that may be for advertising and marketing professionals, it’s actually worse news for brands. How can a company be expected to communicate its legitimate features or new product launches if the majority of their advertising is either mistrusted or blatantly ignored?

Enter the groundswell. The groundswell, popularized by the 2008 Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff novel of the same name, is the idea of companies using social, two-way communication to better engage with current and potential consumers. Taking advantage of social platforms allows companies to have more believable and honest interactions.

Because people are more trusting of each other than of big businesses, they are more apt to trust something akin to a Yelp review rather than a commercial funded by the brand itself.  A commercial or any other traditional ad is an example of one-way communication – a brand yelling about itself without any way for you as a consumer to speak back. An online community or social networking platform allows for two-way communication – the consumer can tweet back and forth with a brand and engage on what feels like a more personal level. Feeling like a company is responding to YOU specifically has a power that supersedes the effects of an impersonal advertisement, even a great one.

Additionally, two-way communication is inherently more honest. Feedback is never going to be 100% positive, which is actually a good thing. Seeing some negative reviews lets consumers know that the content is genuine, which leads to higher trust levels. Companies that pay for fake positive feedback or delete all complaint posts are actually doing more harm than good.

Essentially, consumers respond to authentic communication, and traditional advertising is being seen as less and less authentic over time.  The face of advertising is changing and that isn’t a bad thing. It’s adapting to an ever-changing world and only the most technologically fit can survive. Failure to participate in technological advances and social media could be detrimental.

  1. (http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/image-of-professions-2013-201305020534)