1. Clear Seas Research
  2. SIS International Research
  3. RN_In_App_Effectiveness_GBook_480_60
  4. imd2014_480x60u

Using Crowd-funding to Pay for a Mayoralty Poll in Winnipeg — Does this Represent a One-time Occurrence or the Future of Polling?

Winnipeg based Probe Research announced earlier this month the launch of an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign to raise money to cover costs to allow the company to conduct a poll for public consumption. Is crowdfunding the future of polling?

crowdfunding

 

By Paul Long

For several years now in Canada there has been a debate about whether market research companies should conduct political polls for the public if they are not being compensated by a media organization. A recent blog post by Peanut Labs’ Annie Pettit appeared recently on the Huffington Post website and summarized her belief of whether pollsters should receive payment for political polls as follows: “If their work is being used by political parties or media outlets, absolutely yes. If their work is being used by anyone other than themselves, absolutely yes.”

If one accepts this conclusion, then logically there could be an election with no, or very few, political polls taken for public release if no media organization sponsors a poll, and no research firm is willing to undertake a poll to be released publicly without being commissioned to do so.

Currently a mayoral race is taking place in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The election is taking place October 22nd, with no incumbent running, and a total of eight candidates. There have been no polls published regarding the race since February. While I do not follow Winnipeg politics, it is likely a fair assumption that much has happened in the race since the February poll results were published. The old saying that “a week in politics is a lifetime” comes to mind.

It is in this context that Winnipeg based Probe Research announced earlier this month the launch of an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign to raise money to cover costs of $8,000 Canadian (roughly $7,300 U.S. as of writing according to xe.com) to allow the company to conduct a poll for public consumption.

Last Friday the campaign reached the target, and is currently in field. According to the Indiegogo page created by Probe Research the results are scheduled to be released to contributors to the Indiegogo campaign on September 10th, ahead of the general release of the results to the public on September 12th.

Scott Mackay, President of Probe Research, has kindly agreed to answer a few questions of my questions regarding the poll.

PL: Scott, congratulations on achieving the funding goal to allow you to put the project into field.

SM: Thanks Paul. And thanks for your interest.

PL: Is this something you would try in another election campaign?

SM: Hard to say if this will eventually become the “New Normal” for funding polls in future elections. We were fortunate in this first try in that a great deal of media interest was there – which really helped us to spread the word. And, of course, the media was most interested because this was a first. I’m not sure if we would get the same level of media attention under less “historic” circumstances.

PL: Do you think that other companies conducting political polls may consider such an approach?

SM: It’s possible. But anyone going down this path in the future (including our firm) will have to find a way to spread the word far and wide enough to gather the funds needed.

PL: Are there limitations in which this might be successful? What you described in the your interview with the Winnipeg Free seemed almost to suggest a situation where you believed there was a pent-up demand for poll results.

SM: Clearly the topic of proposed poll is paramount. And if it’s a truly timely issue, there’s always the chance that the media will just step up and fund the poll as they have been doing for all of these years…. Come to think of it, the media might want to run these kind of crowd-sourced campaigns themselves in the future and then just hire a pollster with these funds? Hey, they already have a built-in publicity-making machine and this way they’d also be assured audiences would be getting the results of polls that are truly of interest. Hmmmm now you’ve really got me thinking!

PL: Have you had any conversations with other pollsters asking you about this?

SM: No our industry colleagues and competitors have been pretty quiet on this.

PL: You have had a total of $5,500 in funding for this survey come from two organizations (Manitoba Forward, a citizens’ organization interested in policy issues and the United Firefighters of Winnipeg) that met or exceeded the $1,500 amount necessary to be named sponsors of the survey. This represents well over half of the $8,000 goal. Are you surprised by this at all?

SM: I must admit, I really didn’t think this is the way it would shake-out when we first started to put this idea together. But now that I look at it, it makes sense. Maybe in the future we would find some special category for institutions and interest groups to participate so we can keep track of the real grassroots objectives around crowdsourcing.

PL: Having said that though, you still did have individuals making up for the rest of the funding. The columnist in the Winnipeg Free Press article I cited earlier asked the question “does the public still believe in polling”. Obviously some do if they are willing to help fund the mayoral survey. Do you find this encouraging?

SM: Sure it is encouraging. And I really think most people who supported this were doing it simply to make the poll happen. I heard lots of people saying that they want a poll to see what’s going on. To see who’s messages were resonating, who might be tanking. People don’t necessary want to wait until election night for this kind of intel… and why should they?

PL: Besides the right to have naming rights to the poll, other perks offered to funders were things such as meeting with you and a colleague in a pub to discuss the results, and being able to attend a reception at your office to attend a presentation of the results. Did you have an idea that these would be compelling things to offer?

SM: We felt we really had to offer something extra but, as I just said, most people seemed to be doing this as a way to assure some kind of early to mid-campaign measurement occurred. We won’t know until later this week how these “perks” were received.

PL: As Elections Canada acknowledged in 2012 when they ended the ban on rebroadcasting election results in areas where polls were closed to parts of the country where polls it is basically impossible with the existence of social media to prevent people from sharing election results. With one of your perks being early access to poll results, how likely do you think it is that one of your poll funders will share the results of the poll before they are released publicly?

SM: Yes this is something we have been talking a lot about. We are going to ask everyone to keep a lid on this at least until all donors have had a chance to read the results and think about them for a bit. Who knows if and when this will leak. But we are preparing a formal news release for later as we do feel an obligation to put our formal touch on these results and to avoid any potential confusion of the broken telephone type that is bound to occur.

PL: Scott, once again thank you very much for your time. It will be interesting to see not just how these poll results turn out, but whether crowd-funding ends up being us by Probe or another research company in the future for a political poll.

SM: Thanks again!

Further reading:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/2014-winnipeg-mayoral-race-survey#home

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/columnists/wholl-pay-for-a-poll-271490861.html

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/firefighters-real-estate-board-pay-for-poll-272110911.html

http://metronews.ca/news/winnipeg/1126420/probe-research-launches-indiegogo-campaign-to-fund-mayoral-race-poll/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/annie-pettit/to-pay-or-not-to-pay-that_b_5697514.html

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Creating A Research Transformation Agenda For 2015

Our research programs are falling more and more out of sync with marketing in a digital, social, mobile world. So, here is how to get out of the rut we are in.

By Joel Rubinson

The two most powerful concepts in marketing research…trends and norms…are also the biggest enemies to innovation. We know purchase intent sucks as a primary measure (in my experience, as many as 70% who say they “definitely will buy”, don’t) but because we have norms, we refuse to give it up.  We know trackers have to evolve but we don’t want to disrupt trends.

The result?  Our research programs are falling more and more out of sync with marketing in a digital, social, mobile world. So, here is how to get out of the rut we are in.

When I was Chief Research Officer at the ARF, I created an initiative called “Research Transformation” that benefited from the participation of industry leaders from Unilever, Procter, Coca-Cola, Levi Strauss, General Mills, CBS, J&J, just to name a few.  We created an “Insights Value Creation” (IVC) model and as I recently reviewed the team’s work, I fell in love with it all over again, this time as a model for method innovation.

insights-value-creation

 

So let’s take two dusty systems and evaluate them against the IVC pyramid to see how we can do better.

Brand tracking. The better business future we want is guiding marketing action to achieve business growth, requiring a new framework of what brand success looks like in a digital age. However, our current tools are incomplete.  We are often missing some or all of the following important information feeds…digital (e.g. first party clickstream data), social, transactions, customer care. We can make sense of this using data science, which is a skill we often lack on Insights teams.  When we bring together different streams, there will be an emphasis on synthesis, rather than just reporting the survey tracker results.  Because our guidance system is now more complete we must be willing to take a stand, paying off to the original goal.  Innovation imperatives?  Digital, transaction, and social data, data science, synthesis.

New product concept testing.  Once we have picked the winning idea and have created a marketing budget to generate trial, the next thing we need is triers! So let’s make our business future “maximizing trial with our given budget”.  In other words, we want to beat the forecast. The “take a stand” item we are missing in this case really is a set of media planning rules based on a model to predict who is most likely to be a trier in ways that are targetable via digital and social media. Going to the bottom of the pyramid, regarding information feeds, we are missing ad targeting data that can be used for programmatic advertising.  We could get this by matching concept testing results with 3rd party profiles such as Facebook and Twitter interest data or 3rd party aggregators’ audiences against which they can place impressions. We should also be testing search terms that we could buy, measuring click rates.  In terms of science, we are missing predictive analytics at an individual level. The idea is to use logistic regression to model who the individual triers are most likely to be using the enriched data set (adding interests and audiences, etc.) to survey results and by post-analyzing the early results. By the way, when you do this, you are likely to find that there are other variables beyond the literal purchase intent rating that have value at targeting “trier lookalikes.”  I bet income, age, sharing activity, non-branded content consumption of relevant articles offering advice would all be significant variables in a predictive equation.  So stop just using purchase intent and making overall trial forecasts and then declaring victory!  Businesses don’t want trial forecasts, they want triers!

So what are your transformation goals for 2015? I recommend the following process:

  1. Pick an important business need and research program that are most ripe for reinvention using the IVC pyramid as your audit tool
  2. Identify the needed new data streams and skills
  3. Create a new vision for the program
  4. Search for partners who can best enable this vision
  5. Choose a partner and carefully guide the initial work

In my four years since starting my consultancy, I have had the pleasure of working this model for large CPG and media companies in the areas of brand guidance, media research, and shopper insights.  I can tell you that these are not assignments that take energy, they give energy…to you and the organization you serve.

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Purist, Meet Real World

The New York Times and CBS News made their own news late last month with the announcement that they would begin using online panels as part of their election coverage polling. This reignited the online/phone quantitative research debate. There’s still no question that phone research is more representative than online research. But does that mean it’s always better?

reality-check

 

By Ron Sellers

When it comes to developing a purely representative sample, telephone research is still far better than online research. Numerous studies have shown this from a variety of different perspectives, leaving no real question about the comparative representativeness of the two methods.

Yes, telephone response rates are horrendous. Pew Research Center recently published a study that showed phone response rates are about 9% today, down from 36% in 1997. The Centers for Disease Control now estimates that 41% of Americans don’t have a landline (which is far higher than the dwindling proportion who don’t use the Internet).

I deal with this issue with clients all the time – should we use phone or should we use an online panel in order to get a representative sample of our target audience? My answer is that without question, telephone is the most accurate way of representing your target group…but that doesn’t necessarily mean telephone is the best way.

Quite bluntly, the issue often comes down to one major factor: cost. Typically, online surveys are vastly less expensive than phone surveys. This is true even if panel sample is selected by quality rather than just by who will throw the most warm bodies at a survey for the lowest price. The cost gap is even larger if the phone sample includes cell phones, which are considerably more expensive to dial and tend to provide even lower response rates than landlines. And the gap increases as the incidence of the study decreases.

Purists will cry “cost doesn’t matter – it’s representativeness that matters.” And to some extent, they’re right. But here’s the reality: we all have budgets. And those budgets are all limited.

Let’s say your research department (or your client) has an annual budget of $250,000 for primary research. Let’s further say that your typical study can either be conducted for $25,000 using an online panel, or for $50,000 by phone. You have two choices:

• Conduct five studies by phone and address five key issues for the year
• Conduct ten studies online and address ten key issues for the year

Puts a different spin on the phone-versus-online issue, doesn’t it? Using these figures (which admittedly are made up out of thin air), you can afford to do twice as much research if you do your work online as if you go the purist route and do it by phone.

Of course, not all studies will show this large of a gap between the costs of phone and online. But at the same time, many will show a much larger gap. Not long ago, I handled a project for a client where the incidence was less than 10%, and the sample universe was limited to the 18 – 29 age group. Out of a random-digit-dial sample, that would be about 2% of the national population. I don’t even want to think about the field costs for 1,000 completes by phone.

Now, I expect at least a few sarcastic comments along the lines of “Why don’t you just use a convenience sample at a conference, or whip out DIY, and then you can do ten times as much research for the same price?” I’m not advocating that we globally substitute low price for quality. In fact, I’m not advocating online research at all. There are times it’s worth paying for the highest quality possible, and there are certain approaches and practices that are worthless as research even if they’re free.

All I’m saying is this: cost must be one of the decision factors, because we live in the real world. If all my clients had unlimited budgets, I doubt I’d ever use another online panel. But they don’t.

In this sense, it’s similar to qualitative research. Conducting twenty focus groups is better than conducting eight. But my experience is that, unless you’re examining very different population groups or changing the stimuli from one set of groups to the next based on what you learn, twenty focus groups will provide relatively little additional benefit for more than double the cost. Yes, twenty is better than eight. No, it’s not better enough to warrant more than twice the expense.

The question for most research is not whether phone provides a more accurate, representative sample than online. That one has already been answered. It does. Without question or argument, it does. In fact, since online panels are not a random probability sample, phone isn’t just better, but the only way of providing a truly representative sample.

But the real question is this: is online panel research sufficient for what you need? Is the sacrifice in representativeness worth the ability to spend the savings on other things, such as additional studies, employee education, larger samples, deeper analysis, pre-testing, or conducting qualitative research before you do the quantitative? Can you do things to raise the quality and representativeness of the online research? (The answer to that is almost always “yes.”) At the end of the day, is the gap in statistical representativeness worth the gap in price?

In some cases, there’s no doubt that the answer is yes, absolutely – it’s worth it to spend the money for phone. In other cases, the answer will be no – online is sufficient for what you need. Not because you’re cheap or don’t care about quality, but because like everyone else, you need to take budget and time into consideration.

Until the NYT/CBS announcement, political polling was one of the last bastions of purist thought on methodology. That’s understandable, given that the polling is meant to tease out the likely winners in what are often very close races. If your candidate has 49% of the vote instead of 51%, that’s a pretty big deal. On the other hand, if your advertising awareness or customer satisfaction numbers are 49% instead of 51%, does that really impact your business model?

You need to understand enough about both methodologies to be able to make that judgment call individually for each potential project. Anyone who globally advocates one methodology over the other is missing the boat. It’s not enough just to say “phone is better” or “online is cheaper” – the balance between the advantages of each methodology is critical, as is the appropriate selection for each project.

Also critical is knowing how to get the best out of each methodology – blindly turning a panel project over to the lowest cost provider and running with whatever data results from it makes no more sense than opening the Duluth phone book, dialing a few numbers, and calling that telephone research. Panel isn’t perfect, but there are ways to get better quality data if you know how (hmmm…the wheels are already turning for another blog post).

Purists are wonderful, because their advocacy helps keep us on the straight and narrow, and makes sure we consider the hard questions. But sometimes “purist” must meet “reality” and make some tough decisions. That process appears to be happening at NYT/CBS, and it will be fascinating to see what happens as they experiment with panel sampling.

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500+ Presentations On Insight Innovation: IIeX On Demand

Nearly 200 videos and presentations from IIeX North America 2014 in Atlanta plus over 300 more from past events are now available to view for free on the web!
Payday Loans Now Company

Here at GreenBook we believe that video is an increasingly important means of sharing information and collaborating.

Accordingly, this year in Atlanta at our flagship conference, IIeX North America, we decided to take our investment in video to the next level by partnering with Corporate Cloud. Thanks to our media sponsor, BrandTrust, we were able to create high-quality videos of every session in the conference. In addition, with the tireless help of the inimitable Ben Smithee, with an assist from Ray Poynter, we created a compelling series of in-studio interviews on-site at the conference.

We are proud to announce that all the video content and presentations from IIeX North America 2014 in Atlanta are now available to view on the web!

View IIeX NA Videos

Ready for your perusal are 35 videos from Day One (“Imagine It”), 30 videos from Day Two (“See It”), and a whopping 72 videos from Day Three (“Do It”), plus 47 Studio interviews and 14 Stand-Up videos, for a total of 198 videos in all!

These join hundreds of other videos already posted from IIeX LatAm 2013, North America 2013, Europe 2014, & LatAm 2014, all curated for your viewing pleasure. You can also browse videos by the market research topic of your choice on the permanent home for all IIeX content, InsightInnovation.org. There is no greater treasure trove of thought leadership freely available in the industry.

Thank you to everyone who participated this year and made the conference such a success!

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Jeffrey Henning’s #MRX Top 10: What’s Hot in Market Research Links

Of the 2,147 unique links shared on #MRX in the past two weeks, here are 10 of the most retweeted:

Twitter

By Jeffrey Henning

Of the 2,147 unique links shared on #MRX in the past two weeks, here are 10 of the most retweeted:

  1. Using Conjoint to Achieve a Win-Win-Win – This is a gentle introduction to conjoint, inthreeparts, from Bug Insights, LLLP, a new U.S. research firm, whose intended differentiation, according to Research, is “that rather than just looking at preference data from a conjoint survey, Bug Insights will blend this with the cost of delivering products to customers and identify the most efficient product combinations that deliver both more value and more profit.”
  2. A Little Video Gaming ‘Linked to Well-Adjusted Children’ – Smith Mundasad of the BBC reports on Oxford University research that found that children who spend less than an hour a day playing video games were better adjusted than those who did not play at all and than those who played more than an hour a day.
  3. 10 Tactics for Rigor in Social Media Market Research – Jess Owens of FACE shares her 10 ways to ensure your social media market research has a firm foundation. Her first four points: “1. Capture the complete universe. 2. Your search strategy is critical. 3. Qualify your quant insights. 4. Quantify your qual insights….”
  4. What Can Participants Tell Us About the State of Market Research? – InSites Consulting staff share the results of research on research into the experiences of the members of their MROCs (Market Research Online Communities). It’s not just about the money:
    researchreasons
  5. Editorial: Women in Research – Kristin Luck of Decipher, and founder of Women in Research (WIRe), guest-edited the latest issue of ESOMAR’s magazine Research World: “We’ve curated content that speaks to the female experience from the brightest minds and business owners in our industry today.”
  6. Best and Worst of British: the Attractiveness of the UK in the Eyes of Young People Overseas: Ipsos MORI surveyed 5,029 panelists in Brazil, China, Germany, India and the United States. Young people in these countries prefer the United States (60% selected it in their top 3), followed by the UK and Australia (each selected by 36%). Brits are perceived as polite, but also as heavy drinkers.
  7. Chart the Future of Research: Participate in the Summer 2014 GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Survey – If you haven’t taken this periodic survey on the state of the industry, please take it now!
  8. Dig Deeper & Discover: A Webinar Summit Featuring Trend Setting Insights Shared at MRIA 2014 – Didn’t get to sashay off to Saskatoon for the annual Canadian research confab? ‘Toon into the Ipsos presentations that you missed.
  9. What’s Hot in Market Research? – Ray Poynter shares what’s hot (Beacons, in-the-moment research, and microsurveys), what’s still hot (mobile research, communities, and DIY), and what’s still not hot (facial coding, webcam qualitative research, and social media research).
  10. Firming Up the Foundations of Neuromarketing– In his book review, Steve Genco argues that “An Introduction to Neuromarketing and Consumer Neuroscience by Thomas Ramsøy is the most thorough, yet accessible, scientific introduction to the field yet written.”

 

Note: This list is ordered by the relative measure of each link’s influence in the first week it debuted in the weekly Top 5. A link’s influence is a tally of the influence of each Twitter user who shared the link and tagged it #MRX. Only market research links are considered, although the #MRX hashtag is occasionally used for other types of tweets, including – recently – tweets about Mr. X, an upcoming Indian 3D thriller film.

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Qual at Quant Scale: The iModerate Vision For The Future Of Consumer Research

An interview with Jen Drolet, Managing Partner of iModerate on the evolution of virtual qualitative approaches and what the future holds on using the best of technology and interviewers to provide globally scalable qual to drive consumer insights.

BrightFuture

 

When online quantitative research became the preferred method for most survey-based research about ten years ago, many companies began to explore how to apply that same level of scale and cost efficiencies to qualitative research. The first place many looked was at adapting bulletin board or web conferencing tech to duplicate elements of the group paradigm, and while that has been somewhat successful, it has not created the disruption that online quant produced.

Enter iModerate.

iModerate_logo_2C_RGB

iModerate looked at the issue differently. Rather than trying to duplicate a traditional approach in a new medium, they wanted to see how they could leverage technology to produce something new that would deliver on the best of both worlds. Their solution was ingenious: use a pop-up intercept during a survey to recruit participants to engage in a short one-on-one interview with a moderator in real time.   This hybrid approach could be used to deliver the depth of insights  associated with qual research for a select group of key question areas in  a quant project. Since trained moderators were asking the questions, the human element needed for successful qual was included, but at a fraction of the cost and delivered with global scalability.

The business has seen a steep growth trajectory ever since, and have found more and more applications for their core model to address a variety of research needs. Most recently they have been applying it to client demands for a new tracking research model, producing stellar results with the ability to do longitudinal research on large amounts of moderated verbatim responses.

They have also emerged as leaders  in ever sense of the word within the industry as a whole, as well as an example of how to successfully utilize technology to create disruption without losing the human element so vital to generating impactful insights.

I have followed  them for many years and our relationship has had many dimensions: client, partner, at one point even a possible team member, but most of all we have had a deeply respectful friendship. These folks are smart and committed to delivering great research and maximum value to their clients while continuing to pioneer new thinking and approaches. They are certainly one of the companies I look at as an inspiration for success in this business.

But that is my take. In the interview below I caught up with Jen Drolet of iModerate to hear her side of the story. I think after watching it you’ll be as impressed as I have been, and hopefully inspired to think differently in your own business. Like all my interviews we have a good time during our chat, so hopefully you’ll even get a few grins out of it.

Here is Jen of iModerate. Enjoy!

 

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Who Are The Top 25+ Market Research Influencers On Twitter?

Ray Poynter details a recent attempt to understand influence and influencers within the market research industry via a variety of social media analytical tools.

social network

 

 

Editor’s Note: Before I’m accused of navel gazing or self aggrandizement for posting this let me explain why I think understanding the potential of social influence is important for researchers.

First we have the more pragmatic marketing angle: if you are tasked with helping to grow a business then knowing the dynamics of how to utilize all available channels to grow brand awareness is important. And if you want to shape the perception that goes with that awareness then understanding how to maximize influence is also vital; my belief is that influence is the “carrier wave” of brand perception. It’s both a by product and a component.

Second, as researchers we need to understand this topic because it is an important part of brand tracking, A&U, mix modelling, and a host of other research-related practice areas. Social media will only continue to be an evolving disruptive force in marketing, so the more we can get a handle on how it works and can be harnessed for marketing impact, the better we can do our jobs.

Since GreenBook’s mission is to help research organizations grow their businesses and their understanding of emerging tools, using our own industry as a test case makes good sense. In the case of influence tracking we do that annually via our Summer version of the GRIT report via survey-based data collection. Since we’re in that midst of that right now, when Ray suggested an experiment in July to compare new approaches to understanding influence within our industry (at least within the Twittersphere) I thought it was a great idea, and today Ray has unveiled his findings.

This is a snapshot of one defined time period (when I happened to be on vacation, much to my chagrin!) using 4 different approaches to measure relative influence within Twitter. In this post Ray gives a meta analysis of the key findings and links to a longer and deeper exploration of each tool used and it’s findings.  It’s a great primer on how marketers and researchers can use these (and other) tools to understand the role and applications of social influence. It’s good stuff; enjoy!

 

By Ray Poynter

Back in July I asked ‘Who are the most influential market research people on Twitter?’ After some banter we narrowed the question to the #MRX tag and mid-July I asked for nominations. Jeffrey Henning prepared a special version of his #MRX tweeted links report, and we have had input from ColourText, Texifter, and NodeXL.

You can read the full report by clicking here , and the full report includes several links back to much fuller and interactive information form some of the people who have made this report possible.

But here is a meta-analysis of the findings. To produce the list I tabulated who made the top ten of at least one of the lists, counted how often they made the top ten, and ranked them by that. So this meta list is a follows:

 

Account Score
euromonitor 5
lennyism 5
mramrx 5
raypoynter 5
researchlive 5
jhenning 4
thomasjohne 4
ipsosmori 3
kristofdewulf 3
tomderuyck 3
darrenmarknoyce 2
djsresearch 2
gavinspavin 2
lovestats 2
1sue3 1
colinstrong 1
edward04 1
effectiveresrch 1
erica_dfirst 1
joelrubinson 1
jonpuleston 1
lrwonline 1
mdmktingsource 1
tomewing 1
tomhcanderson 1
tweetmrs 1
visioncritical 1

 

A five means the account was identified as ‘influential’ or widely linked or widely reacted to or linked to popular links by most of the routes used in the report. A 1 means the account made one of the top ten lists.

Of course, this does not mean these 27 are the most influential, nor does it mean the people at the top are the most influential, and it does not mean that influence exists in the way it is often assumed to (see this great TED talk by Sinan Aral on this topic).

Read the full report by clicking here.

I’d like to give my thanks to NodeXL, Jeffrey Henning, Texifter, and ColourText for helping produce this report, and to @lennyism for his support in getting the idea off the ground and for helping share the results.

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Updated! Market Research Steps Up To The ALS #icebucketchallenge (And Learns About Social Campaigns Too!)

The ALS #IceBucketChallenge has taken over Twitter and Facebook, and this past week several MR industry notables joined in.

icebucket_sm

 

The ALS #IceBucketChallenge has taken over Twitter and Facebook, and this past week several MR industry notables joined in. The Challenge entails donating $20 to the ALS Association and filming yourself pouring a bucket of ice water on your head, then challenging three more people to do the same. If they don’t complete the challenge they are asked to donate $100.  And of course the video needs to be posted on your available social media networks. 

If you’re not familiar with this terrible disease here is a blurb:

 

ALS was first found in 1869 by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, but it wasn’t until 1939 that Lou Gehrig brought national and international attention to the disease. Ending the career of one of the most beloved baseball players of all time, the disease is still most closely associated with his name. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons  die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

 

This is a wonderful example of visual media virality, gamification, the power of influence, and how social media drives awareness. The ALS reports that:

 

As of Sunday, August 17, 2014, The ALS Association has received $13.3 million in donations compared to $1.7 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 17). These donations have come from existing donors and 259,505 new donors to The Association.

 

For all who doubt the marketing impact of social media, this should be a wake up call. When done cleverly and in an engaging way, social campaigns do move the needle.

The current wave of MR participants started last Thursday when  Tim Lynch of FocusVision issued a challenge that included myself and Kerry Hecht of Dub.  Here is Tim’s video: Tim Lynch #icebucketchallenge .

At the same time, Mike MacLeod of Lightspeed was also challenged and threw down his own gauntlet (see his video here).

Kerry and I responded within the allocated 24 hours and have kept the vector expanding. Here is Kerry’s response: Kerry Hecht Labsuirs #icebucketchallenge, and for your viewing pleasure my own:

 

 

Among those I challenged was Tom H. C. Anderson, who upped the ante (and the anticipation) in his own inimitable way:

 

 

You can read his take on his blog here.

This morning Heath Adams of Australian researcher firm Sprout Research showed us how it’s done Aussie Style:

 

 

Folks like Oprah Winfrey (and her buddy Gail of course), Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Eddie Vedder and many others have all joined in with their own videos. For my money though the best overall has been Bill Gates:

 

 

I’ve talked publicly about my very personal connection to neurological conditions, so this cause is one I am most definitely a supporter of. I hope the rest of the industry will join me and others in raising both awareness and donations for it. PLus, it’s fun!

If you’ve participated in the challenge, please post a link to your video below!

Updated:

Lots of folks have now joined in with their own videos, here a few that I saw this past week:

Gongos (the biggest one so so far: the whole company joined in! Post by Gongos: Decision Intelligence Company. This gives a whole new meaning to “doing the wave” doesn’t it?

Caroline Winnett took it a step further, and rather than having a little cold water poured on her, she jumped into a freezing cold mountain lake!

 

Matt Valle was cool as ever and his kids had a blast making him even cooler. Post by Matt Valle.

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The Upside to the Facebook and OkCupid Experiments

While I recognize the ethical concerns, they are outweighed by my enthusiasm for greater scientific insights and optimism for potential new discoveries. In that regard, I applaud Facebook and OkCupid for releasing the results of their studies, and wish more companies would do the same.

Mad Scientist

 

By Allan Fromen

You may have seen the recent announcement by OKCupid (the dating site), where they admitted –bragged actually – that they regularly experiment on their users. This was a well designed PR ploy, riding the coattails of the widespread and indignant criticism Facebook received for manipulating the newsfeed of its members to see if subsequent posts would be more positive or negative.

Some have denounced these experiments as unethical, noting that there was no informed consent or IRB (internal review board), both of which are common in academia. But on college campuses where informed consent is received, the basis of that consent is generally a subterfuge so the subject (student) is not tipped off to the experiment’s true objective. So while the student must provide consent, they do so under false pretenses, without knowing the ultimate purpose of the experiment.

Why the deception? Because we know that if subjects were informed of the true objective, their behavior would probably change in important ways. The psychological literature is littered with biases where subjects behaved differently after learning they were part of an experiment. Perhaps the most famous of these is the classic Hawthorne Effect, where worker productivity increased as a result of being observed.

Consumers today already regard social media companies with some cynicism, as it becomes increasingly obvious that their personal information is being used to fuel targeted advertising. But as a researcher, I am excited that Facebook and others can run experiments with consumers in their natural setting. As OKCupid’s cofounder stated, “once people know that they’re being studied along a particular axis, inevitably they’re gonna act differently.” While not exactly articulately stated, I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment. The fact that companies can now further our understanding of human behavior, outside the confines of an artificial lab setting with creative tricks to mask the experiment’s true purpose, is a significant opportunity for scientific advancement.

Google runs over 20,000 search experiment a year, Netflix constantly tweaks its recommendation algorithm, and Twitter uses a mix of humans and analytics to improve its service. We are the subjects of Big Data analytics whether we like it or not. While I recognize the ethical concerns, they are outweighed by my enthusiasm for greater scientific insights and optimism for potential new discoveries. In that regard, I applaud Facebook and OkCupid for releasing the results of their studies, and wish more companies would do the same.

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Firming Up the Foundations of Neuromarketing: A Review of Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy’s Introduction to Neuromarketing and Consumer Neuroscience

An Introduction to Neuromarketing and Consumer Neuroscience by Thomas Ramsøy the most thorough, yet accessible, scientific introduction to the field yet written.

newfrontHow can we study the unconscious drivers of choice?

This is the authoritative introduction and update to neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience, written by one of the leading figures in this field!

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Editor’s Note: Dr. Thomas Ramsøy is a friend, frequent blog contributor, and one of the most brilliant people that I have ever met. It’s with very great pleasure that I post this review of his new book by another brilliant blog contributor, friend, author and researcher Dr. Steve Genco. I have not read the book yet myself, but if Thomas wrote it and Steve is praising it, you can bet it should be considered required reading for both researchers and marketers. Plus, as someone with a neurological condition myself, anything related to understanding how the brain functions is going to be inherently interesting.

Besides my personal connections, why am I pushing this, even going so far to have a direct ad in the introduction? Because I remain firmly convinced that despite the slow penetration of early EEG and fMRI neuromarketing applications in MR we are entering an era where alternate approaches like implicit techniques, facial coding, biometrics via device sensors, voice and text analytics, and yes, even EEG readings will become highly scalable, cost effective, and ubiquitous in MR. We’re seeing it happen already and with most consumer electronics devices have these capabilities built right into them it will only increase. Research will no longer have to rely on recall and stated intent or perceptions but will truly become behaviorally evidence based. That vision is one sought after by client-side researchers, and anyone involved with MR would do well to begin educating themselves on what this emerging future looks like and beginning the shift to embed it in their toolkit now.

Here is Steve’s review, as well as a link to a free Coursera course linked to Thomas’s book. I encourage everyone who regularly reads this blog to get the book and check out the course.

 

By Steve Genco

Thomas Ramsøy is unusual in the neuromarketing community in that he is both the CEO of a commercial research company, Neurons Inc., and also a full-time faculty member with expertise in both neuroscience and marketing. At the Copenhagen Business School, he has created one of the most successful neuromarketing programs in Europe, with over 400 students enrolled in classes, and has established his own research lab, the Center for Decision Neuroscience, which has over several years produced a consistent flow of innovative, peer-reviewed research on such diverse topics as the cognitive role of brands, the nature of consciousness, the sources of consumer choice, and the causes of compulsive buying disorder.

So it was with great anticipation that I awaited my preview copy of Dr. Ramsøy’s new ebook, An Introduction to Neuromarketing and Consumer Neuroscience (hereafter, INCN). Having now consumed the book in full, I’m pleased to say my expectations were not disappointed. With INCN, Ramsøy has provided neuromarketers with the most thorough, yet accessible, scientific introduction to the field yet written. As he states in the introduction, “the models of choice and how we can assess causal mechanisms of consumer choice is what this book is about.”

Before summarizing the content of INCN, I want to emphasize, and applaud, a very important point made in the last chapter. In a section titled “Dodging the One-Sided Approach to Neuromarketing,” Ramsøy observes that neuromarketing companies today are operating in a kind of scientific vacuum. In established scientific fields like pharmaceuticals, no one would allow a commercial company to market a product that had not been rigorously and publicly tested for efficacy (and of course safety). Yet in neuromarketing, companies are able to make claims about predictive or diagnostic efficacy for which no publicly available tests of validity are required. What is missing in our field, Ramsøy argues, is an equally robust and active academic side of neuromarketing from which commercial claims can be drawn and against which they can be assessed. This is the model in fields as diverse as marketing and medicine, which host academic and commercial approaches simultaneously, and it needs to develop in neuromarketing as well if this field is going to achieve its full potential as an applied science of consumer choice.

Ramsøy does much to further this goal of “academic neuromarketing” in INCN. In eight chapters and an Epilogue, he provides an example-rich, copiously-illustrated and well-documented tour of neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience. The book begins with three foundational chapters that set the stage. The first chapter is a survey of brain regions and their relevance to consumer choice and behavior. I have to say, as a non-neuroscientist, I tend to zone out when people start talking about the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex or the medial temporal lobe region, and usually I sleep through these obligatory “brain anatomy” lessons. But somehow this overview stuck with me. Starting with the basic navigational nomenclature — anterior-posterior, dorsal-ventral, medial-lateral — I actually started to understand (at a rookie level, I admit) how the complex architecture of the brain fits together. When regions started popping up in later chapters, they made sense to me in a way they had not before.

Chapter 2 is a thorough survey of “the neuromarketing toolbox.” As one would expect from a neuroscientist, Ramsøy devotes the requisite pages to the high-tech tools, EEG and fMRI, and actually provides understandable explanations of how and why they work, but he also spends considerable time on the less flashy techniques that can produce meaningful and highly useful results — reaction time studies, eye tracking, biometrics, and computational neuroscience approaches, to name a few. The last topic introduces something really new in research methodology, the use of simulation software to predict the allocation of “bottom up” visual attention to a scene, image, or video, all done automatically based on what scientists know about how the visual system works.

Chapter 3 provides another tour, similar to Chapter 1, but this time of the sensory systems (vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch) which so fundamentally determine how marketing, brands, products, and shopping experiences enter our brains. The key lesson here: we do not passively absorb inputs from any of these systems. The impressions, meanings, and implications our brains derive from sensory inputs are all constructed, not passively observed, and much of this process goes on outside our conscious awareness. The brain is an active yet often silent player in constructing the world we perceive, and marketers ignore this fundamental fact at their peril.

With the foundation laid down, INCN devotes a chapter to each of five fundamental issues at the core neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience — attention and consciousness; emotions and feelings; learning and memory; wanting, liking, and deciding; and consumer aberrations. I will not spoil the story by describing each of these chapters in detail. Suffice it to say that each topic is covered in fascinating detail and is accompanied by a surprising number of published studies conducted by Ramsøy and his students (and many seminal studies by other scientists as well). This adds a degree of credibility to the narrative that would be hard for a less-experienced author to communicate. With this book, Thomas Ramsøy is putting a stake in the ground — academic neuromarketing is much further along that most observers might realize, and the foundations for real scientific progress in neuromarketing are there to be taken advantage of. More than any other book about brain science and consumer behavior I have read recently, this one is a loud declaration that the “Wild West” days of neuromarketing hype and over-claiming are dead, and a real revolution in market research is on the horizon.

Introduction to Neuromarketing and Consumer Neuroscience, by Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy, is available in ebook form from Amazon.uk at http://amzn.to/1sNlJZT. In addition to being a standalone publication, it is also a recommended companion volume for a free online neuromarketing course Dr. Ramsøy is teaching on Coursera, starting on October 27, 2014. More information and a sign-up form for the class are available at http://bit.ly/1oUhASZ.

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