MRG Malta 2010 Conference

The IPA/Simon Broadbent Award for Best PaperI now have my first conference presentation behind me. And my first (I’m hoping there will be more) conference win.

The event was the Media Research Group 2010 conference, held in Malta.

The presentation was on Brandheld: Unlocking the Potential Value of the Mobile Internet (go here and here for more information on the project).

And the win was the IPA/Simon Broadbent Award for the best conference paper. The award is pictured to the right (photographed under a light – it is actually silver) – I get to parade it around for a couple of days before sending it back to Lynne Robinson at the IPA to have it engraved.

Winning this award was particularly satisfying as it was voted for by the conference delegates. I’m very appreciative of all of the nice comments I’ve received over the past couple of days.

On reflection, I think there were three key reasons behind Brandheld winning:

  1. Flattery – I started my presentation by taking a photo of the audience, and called them beautiful (they were, and still are)
  2. Subconscious Suggestion – I spoke to a fair number of people in a restaurant and bar the night before the voting. Since no-one can really say anything bad to my face, I received a lot of nice compliments. As the night wore on, memories of the conversation, and indeed my presentation, would become fuzzier, with people only remembering that they mentioned that the presentation was good.
  3. A fantastic project – the award is for best paper, not presentation. Brandheld is unquestionably the most interesting, challenging and rewarding project I’ve worked on. As such, it is a team award with Alex, Kat, Daniel, Carolina, Rebecca and Lee-Ann all deserving of recognition for their massive contribution

As for the conference itself, I had a good time and met some really interesting, friendly people – some of whom I knew already, some who I knew “virtually” and some I didn’t.

I’d never been to a foreign conference before. Prior to attending, I was quite against the idea, since the cost makes it more difficult for smaller companies such as Essential to attend. After attending, I’m more ambivalent, if not totally sold on the idea, as there are clearly some advantages to holding the conference abroad

  • Few people had any reason to do any socialising outside of the conference group. Even if the event were held in Cornwall, the Highlands or another far-flung UK location, there would be more excuses to temporarily leave
  • A totally new city/resort encourages exploration and additional socialising among attendees
  • Continental bars are open later than British pubs during the week (and the warm weather means everyone can stand outside)

While I felt I got involved in the networking with vim and gusto, I didn’t make many notes for the sessions I attended. The reasons being

  • Prior to my presentation, I was making last-minute amendments in my head. As much as I tried paying attention to the speakers, I ended up getting distracted
  • Immediately after my presentation, I was primarily relieved but also going through things I should have said, particularly with the Q&A
  • My subconscious suggesting went on for longer than it probably should have done, which meant I missed the early speakers on Friday

Some of the things I did jot down include

  • Nigel Walley from Decipher made some interesting references to issues with the continuing convergence of the web and TV. The first was that device manufacturers such as Sony and Samsung are generally terrible at services, since their business models are based around replacement devices. Without things such as backwards compatibility, their web TVs become obsolete very quickly. And secondly, the fragmentation of innovation in this area is making it hard for media agencies to plan campaigns – for instance, should they go for a platform campaign (all of the different ad formats on Virgin) or a channel campaign (VOD formats on all platforms)
  • Guy Holcroft from GfK NOP (disclosure: a former line manager of mine) said that we are spending roughly half of our waking hours (7 hours and 5 minutes actual but 8 hours 48 minutes when deduplicating simultaneous consumption) per day on media or communications
  • Richard Maryniak from the Conspiracy Group channeled David Ogilvy to say that the pirate is not a thief; she is your girlfriend and that, ultimately, piracy is about sharing
  • James Myring of BDRC Continental drew the distinction between primary (using p2p or streaming sites) pirates and secondary pirates (via mixtapes/shared drives) and said that ethics weren’t really a barrier to people pirating. Instead it is IT issues – concerns over viruses or a lack of knowledge on how to find the relevant materials. It was probably missing because it is too hard to find people who admit to it, but it would have been good to have seen primary pirates split out into uploaders, seeders and downloaders.
  • There was supposed to be a big debate on piracy but sadly, there wasn’t much heated discussion as researchers at media owners were either unwilling to go on the record or unsure of their company’s position with regards to piracy, and so the conversation remained polite
  • Charlie Gordon from TNS Kantar Media said that the most tweeted game of the World Cup was Japan-Denmark, but that he has been unable to rationalise the reason why
  • David Hulbert of Ravensbeck said that researchers shouldn’t look to explain the past but to predict the future. Researchers should seek to redefine the problems businesses face, and position themselves as people able to provide decision-making under uncertainty
  • Paul Goode from Comscore advocated panels over site metrics, since cookie deletion meant that site metrics are too over-inflated. He said site metrics can be fine for single day campaigns, but unfortunately there aren’t many single day campaigns

For more details, go to Robert Bain‘s updates on the Research website

In sum, it was an enjoyable couple of days and it will probably take me an equal amount of time to fully recover. The conference programme ran without a (noticeable) hitch so big congratulations to Stuart McDonald and Neil Mortensen for an event that clearly required a lot of blood, sweat and tears to put on.

Thank you once again to the people who voted for me. And congratulations to the other award winners – MediaCom for Best Media Agency, BSkyB for Best Media Owner, Ipsos MediaCT for Best Research Supplier and The Guardian for best research initiative.

I hope to upload a “Director’s Cut” of the presentation within the next week (without the 20 minute restriction, I can expand on a few areas I had to gloss over, and I should also remove some of my bad jokes).

I’m not yet sure what is happening with the videos of the event, but if they are put online I will link to them.

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Research 2008: The Great Debate (Part 4 of 4)

Go to part 3 here

Part 4 contains (1) Web 2.0: Capitalising on communities, (2) Closing remarks and (3) My conclusions

Day 2 Session 3: Web2.0: Capitalising on Communities

The final formal session of the conference was also the most fun. There was little particularly relevant to my work, but it is a subject I am interested in and the passion of the speakers was obvious.

Mario Menti of GMI and Diana Derval of Derval Research opened the session with a look at research within Second Life. Continue reading

Research 2008: The Great Debate (Part 3 of 4)

Go to part 2 here

Part 3 contains (1) The Big Planning Debate: Is research failing in the boardroom and (2) Guaranteeing a return on investment

Day 2 Session 1: The Big Planning Debate. Is research failing in the boardroom?

And so onto Day 2. To open the session, Vanella Jackson of Hall & Partners introduced a video containing some very interesting quotes from business leaders. These included wanting intelligence and not insight, wanting a solution rather than the research, research is too often used as insurance rather than as a forensic analysis and that research is the only tool in the marketing mix that hasn’t substantially changed in the last 12 years. A call to arms then.

Rupert Howell of ITV gave a very entertaining keynote speech before the debate/Q&A began. Continue reading

Research 2008: The Great Debate (Part 2 of 4)

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. Continue reading

Research 2008: The Great Debate (Part 1 of 4)

Part 1 contains (1) Introduction, (2) Welcome to the Great Debate and (3) Ensuring Transformation

Introduction

The 2008 Market Research Society conference was the third year I have attended, and the one I took the most away from. Entitled Research 2008: The Great Debate, the event’s stated aim was to “change business through better customer understanding”, which seemed to involve a lot of soul-searching about how business leaders perceive the industry.

This review became a lot longer than I initially envisaged, and so I have split it into four sections – morning and afternoon sessions of both days. Apologies in advance for either including too much detail or for misquoting or misattributing any information (my handwriting isn’t the most reliable of things)

Continue reading