ARF Show Reveals Trends

ARF Logo.gifI spent two days this week at the ARF Conference hanging around the exhibit halls to learn about new research products, catch up with friends and look for potential partners.  Although I was able to make headway on each of these fronts, the volume and variety was disappointing.  I’m sure the economy impacted the attendance and exhibitors alike.  Whatever the reason, its not the ARF show of a few years ago.

Two years ago, “communities” and “panels” were all the rage with every other booth at each trade show manned by “community organizers” (sorry I couldn’t resist that one) and panel developers.  That trend has diminished considerably. 

This year, the trend seemed to be biologic testing and social media.  The biologic testing included technologies that have been developing for several years, such as eye tracking, in addition to neurologic technologies that, frankly, I don’t understand. 

From a qualitative perspective, I was interested in the social media companies.  There were two companies I talked with that do analytics from keyword searches on social media (facebook, myspace, etc.) and user developed content (blogs, bulletin boards, etc.).  The two companies I talked with were Converseon ( and Radian6 (  The analytics themselves were interesting and helpful to understand the “buzz” an advertising or PR campaign might generate.  It can also be useful in pinpointing problems so they can be solved before they become widespread.  Longitudinal tracking of such data might also highlight trends before they actually hit the mainstream.

These social media tracking companies can also deliver the quotes that contain the keywords and allow the client access to the actual person who posted that quote via Twitter, a blog or a social media outlet.  This seems to have a tremendous use for qualitative.  Wouldn’t it be great to find people who are disgruntled about a product and invite them to participate in some sort of online research to delve deeper into the experience to understand more about their concerns (or maybe their excitement over the product)?  This seems to be the tip of the iceberg.  What else can be done? 

All “a-Twitter” about Qual

Twitter is a new phenomenon that seems to be taking the world by storm.  Everyone from gradeschoolers to the President seem to be “twittering.”  Can it be an asset in qualitative research?  I don’t know.  However, the folks at S&R Communications ( penned an appropriately short article on benefits and drawbacks to using Twitter for qualitative research.

Whether it’s biased or not, that’s another subject. But with the ever-growing third-party applications being developed for use with Twitter growing daily, like Twellow, TweetBeep, NearbyTweets, and Tweetdeck, Twitter provides the ripe medium to use for qualitative market research.

Plugged-in gives a great list of pros and cons (below) of why you might want to look to Twitter for your next market research project.

The benefits of using Twitter for qualitative research

  • It’s free & easy – We’ll start with one obvious benefit – Twitter is free and fairly easy to mine for information. All kinds of third-party services exist to help see the latest trends, hot topics, etc…
  • It’s fast – If you have an active group of followers you can get answers to your questions quickly.
  • It’s “natural” – Twitter is an existing social network that can be mined for feedback in a “natural” setting.

Read More…

Solution for viewing small market focus groups

A few weeks ago, I got a project to conduct two focus groups in Pampa, Texas.  In case you don’t know, Pampa is an oil town in the Texas panhandle about 60 miles from Amarillo. 

Of course, there is no focus group facility, so we set up in a hotel.  One problem was that there was not a hotel in town with two conference rooms where we could set up closed-circuit viewing.  Clients wanted to view the groups but I preferred that they not be present in the room with the participants.  We did a little brainstorming and found a solution. 

20/20 Research’s QualMeeting service is essentially an online video streaming service.  Therefore, we set up a video camera in the room with a feed to a laptop computer.  Because I was concerned about potential technology failure, a technician/camera operator set up and operated all the equipment.  We had a second technician at 20/20 during the streaming to ensure that any and all problems were dealt with immediately..

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YouTube for academic-minded quallies

This paper from the Weekly Qualitative Report is specifically produced by academics for academics.  However, if you are interested in finding qualitative material in video format on YouTube, this paper has done the work for you.  The authors searched YouTube for qualitative related videos, reviewed them and provided them in this paper with a synopsis and a link.  You may find it useful.  Here is the article abstract:

YouTube, the video hosting service, offers students, teachers, and practitioners of qualitative researchers a unique reservoir of video clips introducing basic qualitative research concepts, sharing qualitative data from interviews and field observations, and presenting completed research studies. This web-based site also affords qualitative researchers the potential avenue to share their reusable learning resources for all interested parties to use.

You can go directly to the paper at: 

Bulletin Boards useful for studying cancer patients

The following abstract is from an article in BMC Medical Research Methodology of the use of bulletin boards to reach cancer patients, specifically pediatric patients.  We have conducted QualBoard studies among physicians and patients for many years and found the methodology to be very effective because of its asynchronous nature and, in many cases, the anonymity the technique affords. 

Online focus groups as a tool to collect data in hard-to-include populations: Examples from paediatric oncology

The purpose of this article is to describe and evaluate the methodology of online focus group discussions within the setting of paediatric oncology.

Methods: Qualitative study consisting of moderated asynchronous online discussion groups with 7 paediatric cancer patients (aged 8-17), 11 parents, and 18 survivors of childhood cancer (aged 8-17 at diagnosis).

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Zeldis Research makes the case for BBFG

This article appeared in the February edition of the MRA’s e-News.  No, we did not write the article.  However, we did find it very interesting and agree wholeheartedly with their conclusion, “Is a BBFG for every client and every project? Of course not. But it’s an increasingly important tool in our qualitative toolbox, and we strongly recommend giving it a try.”

Conducting Online Bulletin Board Focus Groups: A Wave of the Future
Co-authored by: Doris Kaiser, Partner & Kristina Witzling, Sr. Research
Director Zeldis Research Associates, Inc.

Cost-cutting. It certainly seems to be the mantra these days, and 2009 is likely to be
more of the same, with market research budgets slashed at companies both large and
small. In these leaner times, companies will rely on market research suppliers more than
ever to be at the forefront of creative ways to deliver quality research for fewer dollars.

Read More…

A handful of ideas for online communities in ’09 is a blog on using online communities.  This article highlights 5 research ideas for online communities.  I’ve included the bullets here.  For the full article click on the headline below to link to the full article.


Five ways to use an online research community in 2009

It’s almost Christmas, and for  the penultimate in our Five things to do in 2009 series, I wanted to focus on one specific use brands can make of social media: online research communities. Of the communities we build and manage at FreshNetworks, many are specifically built for research. Even those that are not usually end up offering valuable insight into what consumers think. This insight is something every brand can benefit from, so today here are Five ways to use an online research community in 2009.

1. Get customers involved in your business

2. Innovate with your customers

3. Find out how your customers interact

4. Learn the language your customers use

5. Find answers to questions you didn’t even know to ask


You can run but you can’t hide.

I got this off the Ad Age site.  Its not qualitative but it is cool.


Google Takes Social Networking on the Road

Maps App Lets You Share Your Location with Friends

Google Latitude
Google Latitude

Google today announced yet another addition, called Latitude, to its mobile maps service. Latitude enables you to share your location with your friends, and see where your friends are (or at least where they want you to “think” they are). Through Latitude, you are able to connect with friends by sending them a text, chatting via Google talk or even getting directions to your friend’s location. It works on any phone that can run Google Maps My Location.

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