Technology

Isaac Rogers: A Researcher You Need to Know

Here at 20|20 we are proud that Isaac Rogers has been selected by Survey Magazine as “A Researcher You Need to Know.”Isaac Rogers

Isaac has been Chief Innovation Officer for 20|20 since 2008.  We may be a little biased but we truly believe he is a rockstar in the application of technology to market research.  Isaac is the chief architect for QualBoard(R) the industry’s leading global online qualitative discussion platform.  His most recent innovation was to conceive and manage the development of QualTranslate virtually instant translation for global QualBoard projects.  You need to know Isaac because he is changing the way we all do qualitative research online.  Keep an eye out since he has more innovations in the pipeline.

Congratulations Isaac.  An honor well-deserved.

Using Technology for Virtual Shop-Alongs

I am honored to have co-authored an article with Jessica Ritzo of Insights in Marketing that appears in the July issue of Quirk’s Marketing Research magazine.  I’m not sure how I was listed first as author as Jessica did most of the heavy lifting.  The article is titled, “Be There Now.  Leveraging mobile and online qualitative to get inside shopper’s heads.”

Quirks

Here is a quick abstract of the article and a link where you can read it in full.

Consumers’ use of technology and researchers’ understanding of how to use that technology have opened new frontiers for all types of research, including shopper research.  When planned and executed carefully, the technology boom can eliminate the need for a researcher to be physically present with the shopper for some shopper research while gathering rich, in-the-moment data.  The article outlined a three-phase methodology that includes a text-based online discussion platform  combined with a mobile in-store phase and ends with an online discussion follow-up.

  1. Phase 1 — Pre-Shopping Discussion.  Questions help the researcher understand pre-shopping opinions, expectations and ideas.  Respondents answer questions individually or as a group at the researcher’s discretion.  This format also gives the researcher and opportunity to set the stage and expectations for Phase 2.
  2. Phase 2 — In-Store Mobile Methodology — Researchers give shoppers a streamlined list of tasks to accomplish while shopping.  Shoppers often take pictures and add commentary related to their preferences, observations and reactions.  Data can be rich with visuals accompanied by shopper insights.
  3. Phase 3 — Post-Shopping Engagement — Using a discussion platform, the researcher has the opportunity to probe issues related to the shopping data collected during Phase 2.  As with Phase 1, these discussions can be private, one-on-one discussions, or be a discussion among groups of shoppers.  Because the respondent provides thoughtful, post-shopping feedback on actual shopping behavior, the learning from this phase can be richly insightful.

The article concluded with a case study from the beverage industry to highlight the methods and a use case.  To access the entire article click here.

This entire project can be conducted on the20|20 QualBoard(R) Discussion Platform utilizing its online discussion and mobile capabilities.

Topline Report from ESOMAR 3D Conference

The ESOMAR 3D Conference was held in Boston this week.  20|20 CIO Isaac Rogers attended and provided some key take-aways.  Here is his post-conference report.

Major themes were Big Data, the Problem with Researchers, and the Reality of Mobile.

Big Data:

1.  Still a lot of debate on exactly what this term means for the industry; both in a literal sense and what its long term impact on research will be.  ATT mobile did a case study using mostly CRM data sources mixed with survey responses and even qual.  Good example of how to use big data as a “third step” in the process; (1) Qual to uncover insights; (2) Quant to verify them and size them; (3) Big Data to double-check your hypothesis.

2.  Even in the ATT example, I didn’t see anyone present a direct way to use Big Data to generate insight independently.  But it’s clear researchers are seeking a way to turn Big Data into a new resource for insight and innovation.  How best to apply these principles is still a mystery to most.

3.  By the end of the first day, people were groaning about the fact that everyone’s talking about big data, few people are really doing it.  In fact, when you really get down to it— outside of social media resources, most market researchers don’t seem to even know where to find big data.  I was part of a lively discussion about the most obvious source we can tap— point of sale data.  But weren’t we ALREADY using POS data?  So what’s “new” about this whole Big Data idea?  Most people are still scratching their heads (outside of seeing social media as a source).

Problem with “Researchers”

1.  Over and over we heard about how MR agencies have to change.  The clients claim to be “done” with 600 page research reports nobody reads.  They want a strategic partner, delivering real advice and being an expert on the voice of their customers.  But, when you start to ask about how MR firms can build a business around that… the room gets quiet.  Nobody wants to pay a research to be another voice at the table— they pay them to do research.  So MR firms are ill suited for the task today, and it’s not clear that Clients will begin to pony up the $$$ required to pull in a real strategic partner.  So the MR firms hear what clients are saying (more strategic partnerships), but they only win business today by delivering traditional research results.  Somebody has to be willing to change the paradigm.

2.  MR firms agree they’re poorly staffed for tomorrow.  Lots of discussion about how they will need to hire “techies, IT people, and data wizards” to be relevant in the future.  They don’t have those people on staff now, and don’t even know how to begin the transition.

3.  Clients want “storytellers” who craft the story about their consumers.  I heard that over and over the last two days.  They’re tired of boring research and want Agencies to deliver insight they can sink their teeth in to.

Reality of Mobile

1.  Mobile is still a hot property, but the flames have tempered somewhat.  Now that researchers are starting to actually use mobile, they see it’s not the “holy grail” that makes all other methods obsolete.  Great presentation from Vision Critical on some real-world testing they’ve done with AOL.  They found that participants tend to dislike doing mobile surveys (Vision Critical expects that mobile cooperation will only get worse as the novelty wears off); that 80+ percent will choose to do surveys from a PC vs mobile when given a chance; and that it take participants 50% longer to complete online surveys from phones.  They feel the data is valid coming from mobile, and that it correlates nearly perfectly with traditional data (so no bias, etc), but that it’s more difficult to do surveys from mobiles and that the “halo effect” of neat mobile surveys will die off and participants will actually engage in mobile surveys less.

2.  QR codes came up a few times.  Pretty much dismissed as novelties.  Consumers don’t get them.  There’s not standards.  Funny— 2 years ago everyone thought QR codes were the future, and I remember one firm printing their business card ONLY as a QR code… woops!

“April Fools” Joke Becomes Technology Breakthrough

“They said it couldn’t be done… that there was no way to get a software platform to translate from one language to many others on the fly, but the technology team at 20|20 has done it. They’ve cracked the code and have added an amazing new feature to our QualBoard platform.”

This was the opening line to a now infamous “April Fools” email sent out by 20|20 on April 1, 2010.  At that time, we thought the idea of instant translation so far-fetched that no one would really take it seriously.  That was then…this is now.

Today, 20|20 announced its newest innovation in online qual research, QualTranslate.  What does it do?  It translates QualBoard posts from one language to another “on the fly.”  Today’s announcement echoes the joke from 2010, “the technology team at 20|20 has done it.  They’ve cracked the code and have added an amazing new feature to our QualBoard platform.”  Now, its true.  For us, the irony is stunning.  This is truly a Back to the Future moment.

So, what is the breakthrough?  QualTranslate uses a sophisticated language algorithm to translate one language into another within 60 seconds of it being posted to QualBoard.  In the asynchronous QualBoard environment, this is virtually instantaneous.  This machine translation will be hugely helpful for clients or project managers interfacing with multi-national, multi-language projects.  Now, from anywhere in the world, they can keep up follow the discussion in real time waiting for the post-project translation to be completed.

The virtually instant translation was a breakthrough, but the 20|20 team did not stop there.  They realized that machine translation is great for following a discussion, but is not best for analyzing it.  So, they added an on-the-fly native-speaker translation capability as well.  When this feature is activated, each post is sent directly to a native speaker for translation.  When completed, that speaker sends the translation back to QualBoard. The system immediately inserts the translation into QualBoard for viewers.  The entire process usually happens within 3-6 hours of the original post.  On a multi-day QualBoard, a viewer is never too far behind the discussion to draw insights and make course corrections.  Also, no more waiting days or weeks for translated transcripts.  The entire transcript will be translated within a few hours of the final post.

Speed is crucial in today’s business environment.  Waiting for transcript translations often slows down multi-national projects by weeks.  No more.  Also, project directors often cannot monitor research in many countries because they cannot simply follow the discussion.  When things go wrong, no one knows often until the project is over and its too late.  That problem is now solved.

We are constantly amazed at how fast technology advances.  What seemed impossible just three years ago, is reality today.  I could not be more proud of the 20|20 Tech team.

 

Research Coming to Emerging Markets

Emerging markets are exploding with growing economies and the growth of the middle class. As consumers in these huge markets gain disposable income, CPG and other categories must be ready. Without a doubt the emerging markets are the global consumer growth engine of the future. That is why companies are racing to establish distribution channels and brand identities in these countries.

Research can help. However, the lack of easy access to consumer respondents in many markets has kept research from providing effective, efficient information. Google and others have initiatives under way that will create pathways for research to access emerging market consumers faster and more effectively.

I was asked to write a guest blog for Optimization Group.  You can find it here.

Mobile: “The Pocket Ethnographer”

“Mobile is an ethnographer in their pocket.” said Chris Jones of BrainJuicer today at the ESOMAR Qualitative Conference.  He was speaking of their success using mobile phones to conduct “self-ethnography.”

His case study highlighted the differences between a brand’s segmentation definitions and how that people interact with that brand in real life.  For example, an oatmeal brand may think of oatmeal as being consumed in at the family breakfast table  in a cereal bowl with some fruit on top and a sprinkle of sugar or cinnamon.  In reality, that oatmeal may be consumed in a plastic bowl direct from the microwave and eaten in front of the television while the consumer also catches up on facebook posts.   Digital ethnography is becoming so much easier and less expensive that brand teams can use it to create a much more robust understanding of their brand segments.

A Nokia case study presented by Sharmila Subramanian of Face and Katherine Gough of Nokia also demonstrated the power and capabilities of mobile diaries used as ethnography.

These case studies support a trend we are seeing at 20|20 with LifeNotes mobile app.  Mobile is finally gaining the capabilities and penetration that we have been expecting for some time.  Researchers are taking advantage of these tools to take ethnography research methods to a much broader consumer base.  The triad of mobile limiting issues consisting of cost, capabilities and reach have now intersected and the research community is embracing it.

New Online “Homework” Tool for In-Person Qual

Lets face it, focus group “homework” has not entered the 21st Century.  For decades, we sent respondents paper and pencil assignments or “diaries” and crossed our fingers hoping they will complete them.  Sometimes, you can find them completing the homework in the facility parking lot.  Some people forget completely.  Even when such “homework” is successful, it is hard to distribute, hard to collect and hard to analyze.  Plus, we researchers rarely get the assignments completed and analyzed in time to actually use the insights in our focus groups.  So, homework becomes yet another item to analyze when the groups are over.

Recent “innovations” such as email have helped marginally.  Email helps get assignments out faster and helps us to collect them.  But, it does not expand our capabilities or help us organize and analyze the homework.

So, 20|20 went to work to begin to solve this problem.  The result is a new  “Homework Tool” that is a modified version of our online qual software, QualBoard®, QualBoard Mobile™ and LifeNotes™ smartphone app.  Researchers can ask open-ended or closed-ended questions.  Respondents can respond with text and they can upload pictures or video from a desktop or mobile device.  Researchers can see respondent submissions almost instantly for virtually in-the-moment analysis.  So, the findings can be incorporated with the discussion guide to make the groups more efficient and insightful.

Because the Homework Tool is a modified version of the popular QualBoard, QualBoard Mobile and LifeNotes software, it is already fully-featured and battle-tested by 1000s of researchers and respondents worldwide.  Compared to current “homework” methods, this tool is faster, easier, more efficient and secure than today’s typical methods.

Why is such a tool important to a researcher?  Here are some reasons:

  • Accuracy.  Respondents can record activities and opinions from their desktop or mobile device.  These “in-the-moment” responses are more accurate than methods that rely on memory.
  • Compelling.  A picture is worth 1000 words.
  • Timely. No more paper assignments completed in the facility parking lot just before the group.
  • Complete.  20|20 monitors participation so non-participants are identified early and prompted to get started.
  • Efficient.  The researcher can analyze the information as it comes in allowing thoughtful changes to the discussion guide, resulting in deeper insights in the overall project.
  • Secure20|20’s software and process are secure to keep your data confidential.  We are compliant with the following standards:  PCI, HIPAA, ISO27002, and EU Safe Harbor.

Importantly, 20|20 provides project managers to manage the homework so you can focus on your research.  A 20|20 project manager helps customize your homework for online, monitors participation and helps with timely delivery of the results.  The researcher does not have to figure it out on his/her own.  Plus, 20|20 can manage the homework assignments anywhere, not just our facilities in Nashville, Charlotte and Miami.  Currently, the system is available in English and Spanish.
Susan Brelewski is taking the lead on the rollout.  If you are interested or for more information, you can contact her at 704.494.7873 or [email protected]  You can also download a product description here.

Using Mobile with In-Person Qual

Here at 20|20, we are seeing more and more projects that utilize technology in tandem with in-person research.  The trend has accelerated recently with the introduction of LifeNotes mobile journaling tool.

LifeNotes gives respondents the ability to respond to moderator requests by posting a picture, video and/or comment to their personal “wall.”  The moderator can monitor the respondent’s “wall” to peek into the respondent’s life.  Now, we see researchers using LifeNotes to replace the old paper journals we once asked respondents to keep prior to a focus group.

Four advantages that such mobile “homework” has over paper journals are:

  • More accurate information than journaling. Since respondents record activities and opinions “in-the-moment” the results are more accurate than methods that rely on memory.
  • More interesting information than journaling. A picture is worth 1000 words.
  • More timely than journaling. No more paper journals completed in the facility parking lot just before the group starts.
  • More efficient for the moderator. Since LifeNotes™ posts are available immediately, the moderator can analyze them prior to the group. This allows the moderator to adjust the discussion guide accordingly and leaves more group time for discussion.

Because of the mobile phone and other technologies, we researchers are not just changing, we are getting better.

Google Breaks Old Research Rules…and New Ground

They say one of the keys to innovation is to break a rule that really doesn’t matter anyway.  Google has done it again.  This time, they have broken the paradigm that a respondent must answer an entire battery of questions.  Why was this necessary before?  Simply because it was the most efficient way to do it…back when we were doing paper surveys.  Today, it is simply not the most efficient way. Congratulations to Google for seeing through the cloud of common practice and providing a faster and cheaper way to obtain research data.

As reported the past few days by Bob Lederer of Research Business Daily Report, Google Consumer Surveys now offers survey questions a la carte for as little as $.10/response.  Its pretty simple.  In the past, to access a free premium content site, you often had to sit through a 30-second ad.  It was irritating but bearable because you knew that it paid for your free content.  Google has replaced that ad with research.  Answer a question, you get access to content.  Its faster for both the reader and the researcher, a win-win.

Some researchers express the concern that people won’t take the question seriously.  Seriously?  Do they really believe that respondents will be any less serious when they have to answer a single question than when they are 18 minutes deep in a 25 minute survey?   This concern is typical of the industry when innovation comes along.  It will prove to be moot.

So, who really benefits most?  DIY researchers.  Its easy.  Its fast.  Its cheap.  Time will tell about the validity.  If privacy concerns and legislation do not stop this train, this type of research will grow into a major option for researchers.

Will this be the end of survey research?  No.  Like the telephone, CATI and online before it, it will prove to be yet another tool to help make research faster and better.

As I have said before, this is the most exciting time EVER to be in research!

Technology Evangelist Organizes Qual Event

Charlie Rader is a technology evangelist.  Officially, he is the “Digital Insights Tools Leader” at P&G.  I have seen a lot of evangelists, and Charlie is one.  Not only did he organize today’s “Online and Mobile Research Vendor Fair,” he spent the day running from place to place and literally shouting over the crowd to keep the event on schedule.  He is a bundle of enthusiastic energy for online qualitative and mobile research.  Thank you Charlie, for a great event and for inviting me and 20|20 to participate.

2012 is obviously the year of mobile qual as discussed in the GRIT report and a recent post on this site.  In past years, panel firms have dominated, then social media firms.  Now virtually every technology company has some sort of mobile offering.  Quant research moved into mobile but qual lagged behind for several years.  The proliferation of smart phones has eclipsed the problems qual had with the limited nature of text messaging.  Now that smart phones comprise 46% of the total US mobile phone market, qual platforms have the platform “space” to get deep insights anywhere and everywhere.  Its amazing that just a few years ago, researchers required respondents to come to facilities.  Then we figured out how to take the research into their homes via online.  Now we are with them everywhere via smart phones.  Its been a fast transition.

The P&G researchers were excited about mobile too.  Our QualBoard Mobile collateral was the first to fly off our table.  These researchers were hungry for ways to understand those moments in a user’s day when they made decisions or interacted with their product.  Mobile can provide that answer.

Thank you Charlie for all your hard work.  You pulled together a terrific set of companies who are pushing the envelope of qualitative technology.  It was a true honor to be a part of it and to enjoy your enthusiasm for online and mobile qual.

 

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