Go to part 1 here
Part 2 contains (1) Web 2.0: Harnessing the Potential for Business, (2) Honing Business Skills and (3) Pecha Kucha… And that’s why I love market research
Day 1 Session 3: Web 2.0: Harnessing the Potential for Business
This session kicked things off after lunch. It was chaired by Richard Young, who was the most enthusiastic and involved of all the chairs I saw over the two days. While this could have become overbearing, he generally let the speakers talk for themselves.
Dan O’Donoghue from Publicis gave this session’s keynote. While many others have praised his speech, it didn’t do anything for me. The problem with web 2.0 and technology papers is general is knowing which level to pitch it at – some of the audience will be knowledgeable, some will be novices. I felt his speech was too far towards the novice section for me whereas I can understand others levelling the same criticism at the previous session on Ensuring Transformation.
One of the things I did like about his speech (aside from the funny adverts) was his mentioning of the Boeing Dreamliner panel. He argued that the benefit of including respondents as part of the design process outweighs the fear of competitors accruing information. I’d have liked him to broaden this discussion to tremor panels, as one of the questions he faced was about whether this model could work for non-glamorous brands. Dan admitted it doesn’t work for all, but P&G have shown that distributing free samples and getting people to test products can work even for household goods.
Derek Eccleston and Luca Griseri from Harris Interactive followed with a look at how web 2.0 stretches traditional influencing patterns. I’m very keen to read their full paper as I didn’t quite buy into some of their arguments. Having the full methodology and findings may convert me to their opinion.
Their paper was on how they used Malcom Gladwell’s typology of influencers – mavens, connectors and sales-people – to explore how their influences changed in online and offline worlds. They concluded that the influence hasn’t yet spread to web2.0 since these are still principally social networks and not commercial networks.
The paper certainly provoked a debate, and it is an interesting area for exploration. My main issue was the suspicion that the conclusions are a result of the older population cancelling out the younger. I see age as being the primary determinant here and its effects need to be isolated. Social networks are principally used by younger people, and younger people are generally more receptive to advertising. Therefore, I would expect that their influence is actually magnified in the web 2.0 arena. It was also pointed out in a question that young people are more likely to put personal data online.
I found the final paper particularly impressive. It wasn’t anything extraordinary or innovative, but Ed Bartlett of IGA Worldwide and Graeme Griffiths of TNS presented a compelling argument for in-game advertising.
They opened with some background on the market and some interesting stats. The average American 18-34 male plays games for an average of 12.5 hours a week (console vs. pc vs. casual online split wasn’t mentioned) and IGA predict that in-game advertising will be worth $2bn by the end of the decade.
IGA (and Microsoft-owned Massive)’s ability to not only insert advertising into games but to dynamically target and measure the audience offers an excellent way to reach certain demographics. Demographic information is gathered from the publisher but they didn’t go into details e.g. is from an online sign-up? Is it opt-in?
A case study using Battlefield: 2142 – an immersive first-person shooter – was shown. Given the engagement levels for these sort of games, I can see the benefits of low-level brand-building. Graeme admitted that awareness levels of the in-game advertisers didn’t change – possibly because it is ultimately only background – but brand perceptions did improve for all advertisers. He also said that one of the adverts for Samsung was too contextual and it fitted in so well that the gamers overlooked it.
While early days, I’m fascinated in seeing how this develops. Whether shooters present different benefits and drawbacks to sports or racing games. How the engagement of using the Wii remote affects results. The optimal level of exposure in terms of “hits” and length of time. And then case studies for brands that are actually integrated into the game – such as in Worms 3d where a can of Red Bull acts as a power-up. Watch this space; I will be.
Ultimately, I don’t think the session highlighted the potential for business in web 2.0 particularly well. I have learned more from an 8 page Forrester report than I did from these combined papers. However, the in-game advertising offers some fantastic possibilities and that paper alone made the session worthwhile.
Day 1 Session 4: Honing Business Skills
Gregg Fraley‘s keynote on creativity opened this session. He insists that creativity is a refinable business skill and while we cannot change our style we can develop our capability. It is an attitude, not an aptitude.
He then outlined six creative behaviours that in turn can lead to personal innovation, professional innovation, relevant research and a more active role. These were
- Write ideas down and review them. We have 70,000 thoughts per day, writing them down can help double our memory of them
- Have lots of ideas
- Inject a sense of play. As JFK once said, “If it’s not fun, you’re not doing it right”
- Separating imaginative from critical thinking
- Have a relationship with the arts or nature. Einstein was an excellent violinist, apparently
- Defer judgement as a way of life
Gregg is a very charismatic speaker and he made a lot of sense with this snappy overview. He has a book published, but he also has some tips on his website and keeps a blog that contain more information on the subject.
Nick Bonney of Orange and Jonathan Fletcher of Illuminas followed with a look at the clientside research in a flat world. Because of flat structures, there is a greater emphasis on collaboration and learning, which play to researcher’s strengths. There are emerging opportunities in customer-centrism, risk management and coherence.
They argued that insight teams need to be structured to provide answers to issues before the questions are asked. To help this, clients needs to work closely with agencies – research has become to be perceived as an outsourced commodity. By combining an agency’s practitioner skills with a client’s political skills, insight can filter through to what matters. Ultimately, researchers need to become experts in sensing the environment and building collaboration
The final paper of the session was by Andy Dexter of Truth Consulting and Alice Page of UBS (in absentia) and was a very thought provoking look at how the industry may fragment into data analysts and insight consultants
The paper consisted of 4 key points
- There are problems with the path dependent economic development of the supply side
- The dominant business models are better suited to supply when it should be service
- People businesses don’t sit well with volume based business models
- Nobody can be all things and so different models emerge at different companies
The points were emphasised by comparing market research companies to management consultancies. While research agencies have an average 12% operating margin, the average management consultancy has double that. Consultancies also spend more on people – their people to infrastructure costs operate at a ratio of around 2.5:1 whereas pure data companies are more like 1.5:1. According to ESOMAR, only 5% of research spend currently goes towards a consultancy style decision-support model.
He then went on to say that some bits of market research are more like manufacturing – efficient bulk provision. However, some are becoming less like manufacturing by divesting the “making” and outsourcing data collection. This led onto four final points
- We need to admit data is a commodity but thinking is not, and therefore accountability is needed
- We need to invest in developing knowledge and pay more for the top talent
- We should look at alternative business models such as partnerships in order to play to the broader market
- We need to take brave steps
He then closed by making some (brave) predictions on where the industry would go in the next couple of years. Overall, I found this paper compelling and thought-provoking – it will be interesting to see whether the industry does fragment over the coming years.
The panel session that followed saw a great deal of discussion on market research’s position compared to management consultancy. No surprise really, since research is essentially the poorer cousin. Both Andy and Bob Adams of the Capital Group highlighted the differences. Management consultancy is a top-down immersive approach focused on rigorous analysis, while market research is bottom-up and more spread out among different clients. While researchers won’t have the sector knowledge of management consultants, there is greater scope for innovation. After this discussion closed, the questions then moved to research’s other béte noire – procurement.
The questions to the panel were a disappointing conclusion to an otherwise useful session. There was too much navel-gazing and no real opinions on either changing our business models or incorporating innovation. I can only hope it was down to the time of day and not general apathy to the subject.
Day 1 Session 5: Pecha Kucha… And that’s why I love market research
The first day closed with a Pecha Kucha (pronounced pu-cha-cha) session – where presentations consist of 20 slides lasting 20 seconds each. An exercise in creativity through constraint, as explained by the chair, Ray Poynter of Virtual Surveys.
The five presentations were all about why the speaker loved market research. We had a deconstruction of the word love, a look at market research, an explanation of why things loathed about research played second fiddle and walks through experiences. However, the content was incidental to the spectacle. The five speakers were all young – 2 under the age of 24 – and provided the opportunity for newcomers to make an impact. Which they did to spectacular effect. I was very envious towards them – not only for their success – but also because for people that look so young, they had some grand job titles (2 directors and a Head were among the speakers).
Go to part 3 here
Filed under: events, research | Tagged: dan o'donoghue, gregg fraley, harris interactive, illuminas, in-game advertising, malcom gladwell, Market research, Market Research Society, MRS, pecha kucha, publicis, research 2008, research conference, richard young, the great debate, tipping point, TNS, tremor panels, truth consulting, virtual surveys |