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!

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