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SoLoMo and Market Research: A Panel Discussion

Thank you to all who joined us on March 29th for Research Access‘ joint webinar with GreenBook, “SoLoMo: How Social Media, Localization, & Mobile are Redefining Marketing Insights.” Here, in all its grandeur, is the text of the full webinar.

Editor’s Note: For anyone who missed the March 29th #MRXIdeas webinar on SoLoMo, we have a full transcript of the discussion courtesy of Dana Stanley and  Focus Forward. Since the Market Research in the Mobile World European Conference is next week and the whole concept of SoLoMo will be woven throughout the agenda it seemed like a prime time to post this for folks to get a sense of what our panel of experts think about the impact of mobile, local, and social convergence on marketing and insight generation. This is a long one, but it is chock full of great insight and thought leadership and is well worth the time to read. For those of you joining me and the 150+ attendees for MRMW Amsterdam next week, I hope we’ll continue the conversation there!

By Dana Stanley

Thank you to all who joined us on March 29th for Research Access‘ joint webinar with GreenBook, “SoLoMo: How Social Media, Localization, & Mobile are Redefining Marketing Insights.”

Here, in all its grandeur, is the text of the full webinar.

The panel included Charlie Rader, Digital Insights Tools Leader, Procter & Gamble; Steve Rappaport, ARF Knowledge Solutions Director and Author, Listen First!, and Andrew Jeavons, President, Survey Analytics. The session was moderated by Lenny Murphy, Editor of the GreenBook Blog.

Click here to access the webinar video and slides.

Leonard Murphy:  Good morning, good day, good evening, depending on where you are in the world. Thanks for joining us today in the ongoing MRX Ideas series of webinars. That is also our Twitter hashtag, is #MRXIdeas, so you’re welcome to submit questions or comments via the webinar interface, but also please do it on Twitter. So it is my great pleasure to introduce our panel for our conversations today. First, we have Andrew Jeavons, who is president of Survey Analytics. Next, we have Charlie Rader, who is Digital Insights Tools Leader at Procter and Gamble, and then last but certainly not least, Steve Rappaport, ARF Solutions Director and author of Listen First, which is a fantastic book if you have not read it.

We’re going to be talking about SoLoMo, how social media, localization, and mobile are redefining marketing insight, and we can go on to the first question, please. So now, just to set the stage for the audience, this is a conversation between four guys over a virtual lunch, and you’re going to listen in, so we have some questions kind of predefined to give some broad structure to the conversation, but these are just to kind of kick things off, so we may digress. We may not get to everything we want. We’ll certainly make sure to incorporate anything that you want to know on this topic, though, so I’m going to throw it out there to Steve and Andrew and Charlie. Each of you, give me your take. When you define SoLoMo, based on your experience and background, what do you think about? What does it mean for you? Charlie, why don’t we just start with you and then Steve and then Andrew?

Charlie Rader:  Sure. Well, to say it funny, I would say SoLoMo is – now, I’ll give our audience just a little bit of background. I know we didn’t do formal bios or anything like that, but I tend to be in the product development side of stuff here at P&G, so a little bit of a different take on understanding the marketing aspect to stuff. I’m interested in how folks are using social media and mobile-based technologies. The Lo part isn’t as well-defined for me as we listen to our consumers and what they’re looking for in the products and services that – whether it’s Charmin bath tissue, Pantene shampoo, any of those types of things – but it’s really great – especially with mobile, to be able to narrow what I call the recall gap, that gap between when consumers experience our products and then are able to give us feedback about what they think about that.  So the fact is that on the local side, this is how I’m kind of bringing this definition into being – the local side is these tools give us access to consumers wherever they’re at, and whether that means having mobile-based tools or online-based tools to talk to our consumers, whether they come in for an interview that day, they’re doing some sort of a homework assignment, so to speak, and so it’s very local. They give us some free, qualitative understanding. We can read that and make that the springboard for a face-to-face interview, or it can be regional to global. I think there’s a lot of great pieces to this entire movement as we are able to listen to our consumers, so that’s kind of a little bit on my take on SoLoMo.

Leonard Murphy:  Thank you. Steve, what do you think about it, from kind of the macro view, from the ARF?

Steve Rappaport:  Sure. Actually, I was glad to hear Charlie, because what I did, I had time to actually think through it, and I wrote a definition, so I can give you the current ARF definition of SoLoMo, which may be subject to revision, but it’s about a half-hour old now, because in this world, you have to time and date everything.

Leonard Murphy:  That’ll definitely change 30 minutes from now.

Steve Rappaport:  So anyway, this is my definition: marketing that centers on an understanding of customers and prospects that helps them do what they’re interested in doing wherever they are and whenever they want, so it really conforms to Charlie’s point about the Lo – I mean, the Lo is really wherever a person is. It’s not necessarily a specific location, and not looking at it from the tools perspective, but really looking at it from the marketing perspective and the company perspective, it really is about providing people with the ability to accomplish things in their lives as they would like to, rather than the way that marketers and advertisers might want them to.

Leonard Murphy: That’s a great definition, and hopefully that will now last a little bit longer than the next 30 minutes, Steve.

Steve Rappaport: We’ll have to memorialize it in some way.

Leonard Murphy:  Right, you heard it here first. Andrew, you guys are doing a lot of work, particularly around the Mo piece of things, so what – anything different?

Andrew Jeavons: Actually, the first time I heard the term SoLoMo, I thought, “It’s an opera by Verdi,” but a nice prosaic little acronym. I’m kind of leaning towards Charlie’s definition. I mean, for us, from what we see, from what clients are doing and what they want, this is a sort of mix of technologies that they’re allowing to capture what are starting to the turn the points of emotion regarding any event as a consumer, and so I think the bits that seem to be coming out, the most important are the local and the mobile – there is this huge interest now in all things geolocational with surveys and where people are going, and asking them at that point what they’re doing. I think the social thing probably fits more in the marketing perspective. Then the people also have the ability at that moment to communicate with their social network immediately what’s going on with them, and while I hear often resistance from people saying, “Well it’s very intrusive and privacy and all that,” I think everybody really secretly likes this, I mean, particularly the younger age groups.  I think it is this thing of allowing us to be plugged into what people are doing in many different ways in terms of their social network and their current location.

Leonard Murphy: You know, this leads into our next question. I view all this as convergence, and it’s not just convergence of technologies, also the convergence of our lives in accordance with the technologies, so, digital – the future of all communication is digital. The future of digital is mobile, so we’re talking about, at least for me when I think about it, that there is, with online or social media or mobile, there’s a false separation between those three. They are effectively one thing, and moving more and more in that way, till we have that 24/7 point of experience, the ability to engage with consumers and share that, so for me, when I think about that, that is convergence. Now, that idea has massive implications on the marketing end of things, particularly. It changes the paradigm to almost the Nth degree, which, by default, then has massive implications for those of us who try to help marketers understand the effectiveness of that, so my next question is, what is the impact of convergence on the marketing function? Steve, we’ll start off with you on that. I think, again, you may have kind of a macro view.

Steve Rappaport: Thank you. I had some thoughts about that, and for me, what came up is really the way that marketers think about their customers, and I didn’t have an answer to this question as much as challenges, and there were a couple. I think there were a couple that are worth talking about.

One is the challenge to understand customers and prospects dynamically, because – and probably Andrew can speak to this much better than I can, but the traditional way that companies understand customers is largely through surveys and focus groups and things, where they’re looking at forced responses and sort of historical information about their customers, but the promise, really, of the social/local/mobile is to really understand the data streams that are happening in real time – the signals that people are giving off about who they are, what they’re doing, what they’re interested in, what they’d like to accomplish and so forth.  So the ability to move from sort of slow information – and I don’t mean that negatively – to really bringing together streams of signals that need to be captured, processed, analyzed, interpreted, and acted up on very short time frames and time scales is extremely challenging for the marketers.

The second is the challenge for marketers to view their customers as something other than deal hounds, because a lot of what comes across that I see is really about couponing and hitting people when they’re walking by your store, and all that sort of thing, and there’s an important place for that, but if we do think more broadly about these technologies, the convergence and the ways that people are using them to get on with their lives, there’s really the challenge of understanding this.

One is, how are people using social and mobile? There’s some really interesting work that I came across by Jerry Zaltman and Joe Plummer on sort of the different ways that people view social networks. A lot of us think that social networks are used in one way, but from the users’ point of view, they’ve identified sort of three different segments for the way that people approach social media. One is as a place to do activities. A second is a place where people can be onstage and announce themselves, and then the third is to use it as a campfire, so, assuming that these are useful distinctions – I mean, this is just in our early work – how many of us are really thinking about the different ways that people are using these tools and what they’re using them for, and then using that understanding to help shape and influence the marketing that we do to those folks? In addition something that we’ve seen for a number of years now is that there are new models of advertising that have emerged that succeed, really, the interrupt and repeat model, and that’s where these models are around service, so reducing friction, helping people accomplish things.

Another is providing information on demands so that people can act themselves, and then the third is engagement, so the convergence of all of this on the marketing function is really to challenge marketers to think much more – not only holistically, but much more integratively about these technologies, how people are using them in their lives, what these technologies and convergence mean to people, and then use that as a window to really understanding folks, and then using that to market and advertise effectively, so that’s my answer to the question.

Leonard Murphy:  That’s – thank you. That’s a great impression.

Charlie Rader: Wow.

Steve Rappaport: Well I’m a big picture guy. I can’t help it.

Leonard Murphy:  So Andrew, Steve kind of pointed out that maybe you have a perspective on that. What’s your take?

Andrew Jeavons:  As Steve said, challenge to understand the customers dynamically, and I think one of the big things that I see is in the past, when we worked with surveys and, we had a set of demographics that we’d use because they were convenient and easy, and because they were all we ever had. Now, we get all these data, and instead of saying to me, “Well, how many times did you go to the market last week?” you can actually know that.

And it is a challenge, because we’re going to get a lot more data. We have a lot of data that’s very different from the form of data traditionally used when we use surveys. We can have streams of data about how active people are physically. We can use the geolocation on the smartphones to find that out. We can have all sorts of information of where they’ve actually been and when they’re been there, and ask them things. We can have people taking pictures or videos of what they do and don’t like, and all this is going on now, and so we have a radically different set of types of data, which will lead to different demographic classifications, which will change the image of a consumer quite surprisingly.

I think there’s going to be one of these revelations where suddenly there’s going to be a lot of realization that the way people are seeing maybe traditional demographic methods just don’t work, but it is a big challenge, and I think one of the things that we’re working very hard on, or a lot of companies are, is making sure that there are mechanisms to understand that data at the moment. We get a lot of pictures uploaded, sort of mobile ethnography. You’ve got to work out new ways of managing that, because it’s just different from what we had before.

Leonard Murphy:  Well, so, Charlie, what about the impact of this – we’re talking about marketing, but from a product development standpoint, how are these technologies actually changing the way you think about products that you’re introducing into the market, and how you’re engaging with consumers in almost a co-creation process, and give me some insights that way?

Charlie Rader: Things that we have – actually, both Steve and Andrew hit on a number of points that, as I was thinking through this question, and I’ll take marketing in a much broader perspective, as in how does P&G as a company – we as a marketer, so to speak, look at these things, and then bring it into product development land. Well, the first thing is that in both social and local and mobile, is like, how are we delivering information to our consumers? That is going to be a critical value add, I think, for our consumers. How do they find things out about our particular products? Is that placing QR codes on our packages and saying, “This is how we’re being eco-friendly as far as our packaging materials are going. This is the top – see a video here,” and then sharing those things in a Facebook, Twitter type of way? Information is going to be another layer to the product development, the total product experience for our consumers, I think

Then, of course, as we’re looking in social media or utilizing co-creation platforms, that type of thing where people are much more used to chiming in and helping out in increasing the value of a product, just not to say, “I’ll probably buy this,” or, “I’ll definitely buy this,” but really saying, “Hey, I can engage in what this company’s going to do, and what this product eventually will look like.” I think to drop a name, we’re looking at something like a, where you see normal folks just getting in on how a product is designed, from first ideation to what colors are going to be chosen for the final product? Those types of things are very open.

We’re not quite that open at P&G yet, but the fact is that we’re looking at that type of crowdsourcing ways of engaging with our consumers, people that both like us on Facebook, as well as just standard, ad hoc panel recruitment to get a broader view of things. That’s the kind of thing where lots of these, both big data, as it’s been called, all the time stamps of where you’re at and when it’s happening, to just figuring out how we’re going to be creating apps for folks to learn more about our products.

Leonard Murphy:  Very cool stuff.  So as we think about what everybody has talked about in terms of the revolutions on both marketing channels, product development, research, let’s expand out a little bit and think about, the next two to three years. Let’s all play Nostradamus for a minute. Two to three years out, what do you think the overall impact of this overall model of convergence, of SoLoMo, will have on business as a whole?

So Charlie, let’s go back to you and think about P&G. Where do you see P&G being from – within your area of expertise around product development in preparation for the overall marketing, how do you see it in two or three years out based on these technologies?

Charlie Rader:  I’m sorry, I can’t comment on that right now – I’m just kidding.


Leonard Murphy:  You have to sign an NDA to be able to discuss it, right?

Charlie Rader: Exactly.

Leonard Murphy:  The vendors are listening.

Charlie Rader: And being recorded too. No, I think it’s certainly no secret. Bob McDonald, our CEO, has said it pretty clearly to market analysts, and certainly within our own company, that we want to touch more consumers in more parts of the world more completely. That’s how we’re going to grow. It’s part of our purpose. It’s inspired growth strategies, and so digitization is one of our key ways of doing that. It’s going to make us more productive by being able to reach out to more consumers in this digital, local, mobile way. We’re going to be able to talk to folks that we’ve never been able to talk to before because they weren’t in the major markets that we’re normally recruit a group from, and I think we’re only going to be increasing in how we’re going to be looking at digital-based research. It’s pretty simple. It’s certainly not what I’d call proprietary by any means. It’s fairly obvious, really, where lots of the market research tools are headed.

Leonard Murphy:  But what does that do, Charlie, to a company like P&G that values norms and trends and historical data for comparison, when both the methodologies are changing as a default, and a lot of the older data, it’s definitely not relevant for some of these new measurement or engagement techniques.

Charlie Rader: That’s a great question, Lenny. I think that the fact is that in the short term, in the next two years, since that’s the Nostradamus here you’re looking at, are we going to stop doing Nielsen BASES studies? No, we’re not going to stop doing that kind of stuff, but I think we’re going to start learning what, like, a Net Promoter score really means to us, and how that relates to purchase intent, so when we’re able to listen to the social media buzz about products in market, we’ll be able to start relating it back to the historical data, but also, as I’ve heard in now the Market Research in the Mobile World last July, it’s not a matter of how we validate this type of data to that type of data. There will be some places where data validation will be there, and I think the fact is that these new channels of data expose us to new consumers, and so if they’re not quite 100 percent validated between this set and that set, I don’t find that unexpected. I find that actually refreshing, because it means that we are probably reaching people that we don’t typically reach. We’re not reaching the professional panelist anymore. In my hopes, that we’re reaching people who really care about our products a lot more so.

Leonard Murphy: Thank you, Charlie. That’s an interesting perspective, and I think it’s going to be a continual piece of the conversation as we go forward within the industry as a whole. Steve, so kind of playing off what Charlie’s thinking, so you’ve been spending a lot of time around the idea of social media specifically as a multi-level tool for marketers, for market research, and a lot of the conversations at the ARF Rethink conference just wrapped up this week that we were both at. That was around trying to figure out, what are the metrics? What are we really measuring? How does it interact with what we know? What does it tell us that we don’t know? Kind of summarize that. What does that look like overall?

Steve Rappaport: Actually, I mean, probably Andrew and Charlie may disagree with me, but it – and it’s not a plug for whatever it is I’m writing next, but –

Leonard Murphy: You can plug, Steve.

Steve Rappaport:  No, no, no. I don’t have…it’s this thing – I don’t know what forms it’s going to take yet – called The Digital Metric Field Guide, and one of the reasons why I’m working on it is because the ARF – I’m sure most everybody’s familiar with it, but we have over 400 members who belong to us, and these are not individuals. These are companies, so Proctor and Gamble is a member, Unilever, Nielsen…the media companies, the research companies, agencies and so forth, and there’s a lot of just uncertainty and confusion about digital measurement, and so I said, “Well, let’s take a look at the way people are reporting it.” Now, this is not necessarily the way that it’s actually done inside of companies like P&G, but – so what I did is, with a small team, we picked out about 80 award-winning case studies. So these were Effie award winners. Ogilvy, which is the ARF research award, IPA Effectiveness awards, Cassies and things, and I’ve been, for the last couple of months, deconstructing them into this.

One is, I’ve been looking at the overall objective for the campaign, then looking at each of the individual campaign objectives, then looking at the metrics that we reported to measure the progress against those objectives, and then relating all of that to kind of a marketing process that I call – that I’ve adapted called “capture, connect, close, and keep”, so the idea here is that I want to be really, really granular and discover, what are all the different objectives? What are – and things, and I looked into measurements, and when it came to sort of especially digital and the social measurement in particular, there isn’t a whole lot of insight there. These – because the measurements so far that I’ve come across are largely about counting, and they’re about activity, and so while they may be helpful in terms of gauging certain things, right, like the growth of a fan base, what is missing so far that I’ve seen is the ability to actually convert metrics to meaningful measurement that measures progress against achieving a business objective in a truly meaningful way, and that’s where there’s lots of thinking that needs to be done and lots of opportunity, and part of what I’ll be doing in this book is trying to lay out a way that we can start doing that, because counting and activity, it’s really hard to know what that means, so when somebody says their fan base has grown by X percent, or they have so many tweets, or this, that, and same, so they’re really not getting at the business performance. They’re just measuring what is flowing from some of their activities online.

So that’s an answer to that question, Lenny, but I also wanted to add to this part of the discussion that in addition to the discussions that we’ve all had about signals, I think that we’ll also be looking at data coming from new and completely different places, especially when we think about like P&G has their billion new customer objective, and many other companies are looking to grow into truly emerging markets, so when you think about Latin America some countries and locations there, Africa and parts of Asia, much of the data that exists in more developed markets doesn’t exist there, and I think that we’ll be looking at bringing in data streams that are very non-traditional. For example, you may be familiar with the project at the UN called the UN Global Pulse, and what they’re looking to do isthey’re analyzing data from, say, cell phone companies, and they’re looking to see what are the trends in types of phones? What are the trends in types of plans? What are the patterns in the calls and things? Not to identify people individually and not to identify each individual company, but to begin to understand the patterns of communication, among them, the rates of growth and things, because they’re using these as indicators of economic development, consumer interest and such, so one of the things that we’ll be looking at in the years ahead is drawing upon very non-traditional forms of data that relate more to the transactions and the business activities of companies, and in addition to the kinds of data that we’ve worked with for years and years.

Leonard Murphy: So we start going there, and we’re thinking about – at least in my mind, it brings up the ideas around big data, and  if convergence is about the data streams coming together, big data becomes the method by which you try and analyze it and derive value from it, so how does that idea, that the converged data streams are then analyzed through both traditional and nontraditional techniques, and what does that do to the marketing organization, their ability to really deliver impact across their company?

Charlie Rader: Talk to the geeks, Lenny.

Leonard Murphy:  Andrew, you’re pretty quiet. You want to take a stab at that?

Andrew Jeavons: I agree, really, what Steve’s saying, and that’s just really where it’s going. I think there’s going to be a real change – we’re going to suspect that in the past, the idea of recall was fairly shaky, because we’re getting much more closer to the point when consumption events take place, and getting feedback at the point, or comment that we may never have got before, and I think there’s going to be the dreaded baseline shifts in all sorts of research, as snippets of information come out from mobile research, which really does give a different view of the consumer and what they’re doing. I really believe that.

Now, the convergence things and the data streams, well, tthis is great. This is a problem because we really don’t have the analytical tools at the moment up to speed. If you go out and look into the big data world, which I occasionally go and look at because of past obsessions with data, you see all sorts of complaining about, “Well, we can’t kind of run what we want to run with this, that, and the other,” and all this is tech stuff. It actually really important for live virtualizations, that they can do the sorts of analytics that they need, and we run again this thing – we’ve got all this data. It’s great. How are we going to manage it? How do we manage 10,000 pictures of a supermarket shelf that somebody didn’t like? We’re going to get that, so it’s a huge challenge, but as Charlie said, us geeks are going to fix it sometime.

Leonard Murphy: All right, well, Charlie, you got the shout out. I know that – it’s too bad that we didn’t get Mark Lloyd on here with us too, Charlie, because we had a conversation in Cincinnati recently about P&G, for instance. They’re sitting on tons and tons and tons of data that’s very siloed, and the goal, I believe, is trying – as it is for all companies, at this point – o bring those silos and bring all that data together, and try and drive that for insight, so how does that fit into things from your standpoint?

Charlie Rader: Well, I mean, just as we mentioned before, it is how we’re going to be bringing in all those different types of data streams and deriving meaning out of it. Those types of analytics products are going to start turning things around. It will no longer be, when it comes to the marketing world, “Gee, what does the marketing director think about this particular campaign?” but  “How are our consumers already talking about these products at market?” That will be driving a lot of our answers and responses to even our competitors. I think the fact is that it’s not going to be N-equal-one decision-making anymore. It’s going to be a lot more N-equal-10,000 pieces of data that’s going to help us make these choices.

Leonard Murphy:  Steve, what’s your take on that?

Steve Rappaport: Well, I agree with Andrew, I mean, and Charlie. Geeks will rule. I read something not too long ago about the kinds of people who are really scoring big when they leave college, and they are the really heavy-duty computer scientists, data analysts. They’re really becoming sort of the rock stars of companies today, but the part – what I could add to this discussion is that having the ability – like Andrew and Charlie pointed out – having the ability to bring in these streams to data, to analyze them and all of that, having all of that is extremely important, and there’s another aspect that’s very, very important too, and that is the ability to ask the right questions of that data, so that when all of the analysis is done, that the understanding that results is really going to help the business and drive it forward, because without really good, penetrating business-critical questions, it’s possible to run the risk of just analyzing and analyzing and analyzing data without really having it have an impact.

Andrew Jeavons:  I have something to add. I think that’s absolutely true, and that there is a lack of theory of, first of all, why people answer questions. I said to somebody yesterday – it was a government conference. We have no respondents’ theory. We have no theory of why people will actually answer these questions or take part, and that seems to be pretty critical. I also come from a background in neuropsychology and cognitive psychology, and there’s this lack of theory where I’m always thinking, “Why did somebody pick up the phone and answer and sit through these questions?” There’s no theories about this.

Steve Rappaport: I agree. I’m really glad we’re meeting this way, because, I’d just say I second that wholeheartedly, because it’s the absence of theories and frameworks in our business, it’s really harmful.

Andrew Jeavons: And, well, yes, and we should talk sometime. We’d have a great time.

Steve Rappaport: Sorry for everybody on the phone.

Andrew Jeavons: I’m in Cincinnati with Charlie, and he stole my iPad the other day, so –

Leonard Murphy:  He brings up a good point.

Charlie Rader: Actually, I’d like to chime in too on this one – that when I get asked internally about all these new types of market research tools that are at our disposal, and what do we want to pilot next? What do we want to learn from next? Inevitably, the question comes up is, well, what about the data validation? And my answer is very simple. It says, we will always do research among people who do research with us, and so to say that we have a rep population, or we’re getting a particular target, and people are saying, “Well, it doesn’t skew this way or that way or the other,” and it’s like, well, of course there are data skews depending on the channel that you’re looking at, but the fact is that we’re always skewed with the fact of, there’s a group of people that will answer surveys, that will talk to us in this way, and who also say very forthcomingly, social media isn’t necessarily the answer to that.

Certainly, people will talk about these things freely, but I also think that social media is an aspirational type of being. I mean, when I post stuff on social media, I want to look smart and cool, whether I’m spurring something on that I like or I’m bashing something I don’t, so the listening aspect to it, I don’t think social media will solve all of our research respondents’ validation question, but I think that this lack of theory of why people answer is something that really could stand to be understood better.

Leonard Murphy:  I think – and this is fascinating, and an important part of the conversation. We might have a whole other webinar on this particular topic.

Charlie Rader: I digress.

Leonard Murphy:  No, no, there is no digression. This is appropriate. Part of this whole idea of divergence is that we are getting to – we’re becoming part of the fabric of consumers’ lives, rather than being intrusive. A lot of this is quasi-ethnographic, observational, passive data collection and listening. I mean, we’re becoming voyeurs to an extent, data voyeurs in consumers’ lives, and the ultimate goal of that is to try and use that information to help make their lives better, while also making money while we’re doing it, right?

Charlie Rader: Agreed.

Leonard Murphy:  That’s the end goal, so that is a very different framework than we have had in the past, so we have accessed information, and it’s certainly unprecedented, the lack of frameworks.  I think so because we’ve never been able to do this before. Once again, technology overtook experience, so we’re in that phase now where, by experimentation and going forward with these, engaging in these ways, we’ll develop those frameworks, and we’ll go from there, and you know what? It’s funny, at least for me, being kind of a macro observer of the industry, at the same time we saw this massive growth around social media and mobile and these more technology-driven approaches, the same time, we saw a massive explosion in focus on behavioral economics, emotional measurements, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Now, the data aspect of things has become less of a driver of the value of the research. We’ve seen a massive shift towards a focus on trying to understand humans, and why we do what we do, think the way we think, buy the way we buy.

Andrew Jeavons: Heaven forbid we’d have psychology in market research. Dear.

Leonard Murphy:  I’ve predicted for quite some time that the future market researchers will be psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, and data scientists, but not the – not kind of the traditional operationally-focused people that we have predominantly in the industry today, but what do you guys think about – are we entering into the possibility of a golden age now, since we’re so close to the consumers and the SoLoMo and the tsunami of data available to us is forcing us to reexamine ideas at a very basic level, of simply how we pick as humans, and why we do what we do? Are we looking at a future that’s the ultimate convergence of psychology, cognitive science, and data science? What do you think? Anybody, jump in, or I’ll pick on you.

Charlie Rader: I would say that in the short term, we’re not quite at that convergence yet. These are still fairly siloed data streams. I think while we’re looking at big data in certain ways, whether it’s social or mobile-type data, or massive data collection, you turn on your iPhone and you get GPS data for a week on a particular person or group of folks. I think the aspects of handling the ethnographic, handling the truly behavioral psychology, facial expression, neutrometric, some of those things, which can be very rich, are very singular, very qualitative in nature and not big data in nature. While certainly eye tracking measurements generate beaucoup amount of data points, it’s ultimately an N-equal-one data point.  How is this person responding? It’s the question of are we going to get to the true psychology in all these things? I’m a little bit hesitant in the short term, I would say the two, three year mark, but all these particular types of research methods get us truly closer to understanding behavior and not just a demographic.

Andrew Jeavons: Then again kind of as the token psychologist, this true understanding of behavior – they’ve never managed before.  I think one of the things that has interested me most is the sudden growth of interest in behavioral economics and Kahneman and all this stuff, and I won’t go on my Kahneman rant. I was reading Kahneman when I was 20.  It’s very interesting that this has suddenly come up, and he has some of the best theories about how people just behave in a normal mode in the mall where they are sort of that automatic process of purchasing. I think because of the sort of data we’re going to get, the market research, or whatever it becomes termed, has to build those behavioral models and has to use – everybody’s mentioned, Charlie’s mentioned – all these different streams. I think the fusion of all those streams is a tremendous intellectual problem, and I’m really excited to see who starts coming up with solutions.

Steve Rappaport: Being serious now, there’s a lot – there’s really a lot in what Andrew and Charlie said. Personally, I think that this is one of the most exciting times, because there really is such an interest in understanding people as people and not just consumers and customers.  I think all of that is great, and it’s a wonderful thing that we can really sort of understand one another as human beings with motivations and interest and goals and desires and all of that.

I just want to challenge you, Lenny, on one thing. It’s just the phrase of “for the first time” or “just now” or something like that, and I’m kind of cluing to Andrew a little bit. See, I think that there’s a lot that we know about human nature, and even behavior, that we’re just not familiar with, because as, Lenny, as you pointed out, the reemergence of the social sciences is extremely important, and things that especially this is where there’s a big opportunity, I think. There’s tons of knowledge that’s locked up in the anthropology literature about society and social change, what occurs when new technologies and new groups come into a culture, and that, but that, for whatever reason, has really not been that accessible to us. It hasn’t been as popularized and things, but there’s probably a lot that we can learn just by mining a lot of the work that was done in the past, so I just want to sort of get that said about, we have this new opportunity now.

But where I can contribute to the conversation on this topic is that there’s a gap, and the gap that I see is a gap between understanding people better and more fully and more completely, but it’s not being matched necessarily by marketers shifting their understanding of people in line with that, so what I’m trying to say is that although it’s an irony, I guess, in that as we’re understanding more about people, we’re still holding onto our old mental models about how advertising works, how business works, what drives people and so forth, and the progress that we’re making in terms of understanding people will not really be fully realized unless we marketers and advertisers also change the way that we conceptualize people and are willing to change our mental models and the way that we do our business.

Leonard Murphy:  Fantastic point, Steve, and I accept your challenge, and you’re right, so there, but I think your last point about – the ship has to curve within our organizations – I think it’s absolutely spot-on, and it circles back around to the idea we were talking about, norms and metrics, earlier, that – somebody has mentioned Nielsen BASES, and I love Nielsen, and anybody from Nielsen, don’t take this the wrong way, but it’ll be a Herculean task for advertising agencies to move off of Nielsen rating systems. It’s so ingrained into the entire ecosystem of that business. It’s just going to be tough. Same thing is we look at the focus on ad impressions. I always think about last year at ARF when Joe Tripoldi from Coke said he didn’t care about impressions anymore, he wants to know about expressions. He wants to know if people were talking about his brand. Were they relating to the brand? So I think we’re really in this difficult transition period, where there’s business models across entire industries and organizations are entrenched around very specific metric models that are being challenged, but detangling, decoupling from those type of things is just going to be tough.

Steve Rappaport: Well, I’ve got lots of thoughts about that.

Leonard Murphy:  You go for it, Steve.

Steve Rappaport: No, you strapped me onto one of my hobby horses. Because the short answer to your question is, it takes guts. If you’re really going to change the system, it’s going to take guts, because what happens is – and I usually don’t talk about myself very much, but I was on a panel, actually in Brazil, and I was sitting next to the CEO of one of the major advertising companies and agency networks, and at one point, I just blurted out, I said, “When are we going to stop making the world safe for media planners and buyers?” Because – I’ll explain that one – because the rigidity of these systems is largely tied to the economic models underlying them, but what’s happened is the way that technology has developed, and the way that people are using technology, is that those models really don’t apply as broadly as they once did, and so they need to be changed, but people are really unwilling to change them because all of their buying and selling is based around it, for example.

But more fundamentally, the problem that there is with things like impressions and reach and GRPs, which I spent parts of my career calculating, by the way, is that they’re based on a model of advertising that is less and less relevant, and that’s the model of education and persuasion, because in the strictly analog era, broadcast and mass media.  It was all about getting that message out, impressions, tonnage, how many people did you reach, things like that, but because the model at the time was, you have to make people aware, you have to interest them, you have topersuade them and get them to act – but what we’re saying day in and day out is that those kinds of linear models are holding less and less, explaining less and less, and they’re being replaced by models where you don’t – at the very core, many people don’t need advertising to learn about a new product, for example, yet the whole system’s based on that, so  it’s a very complex question. I mean, it’s a very complex situation, and companies are really holding onto their ways of doing business to protect their businesses, but in fact, that’s what’s preventing progress, and so that’s why I say it really takes guts. It’s going to take someone to stand up there and say, “We’re going to do it a different way.”

Leonard Murphy:  Good stuff, Steve. We do have to start wrapping up, but I’ll tell you what, from that, this conversation alone, I have 10 more ideas for future webinars, so we’ll definitely want to invite you back to explore some of this more. Charlie and Andrew, what are your thoughts on that? Because I think just to kind of bring everything back around full circle – Steve was talking about it, is – SoLoMo is simply the new channels for engagement and for advertising, and so I was thinking about that from a research and marketing standpoint. We are – it all really does come around to this idea of it’s a new world. We touch consumers in various and sundry ways throughout the point of their lives, both deliver message and gain insight, and yet we’re fighting to get – fighting, but there’s certainly a tension between the existing modes of doing things and the unstoppable forward march of technological progress, so what does that mean for your businesses?  Steve and I have the macro view, but Charlie, what does that mean for a company like P&G? And then Andrew, what does that mean for a research provider?

Charlie Rader: I don’t know if I have something new to add here in that what SoLoMo is doing is that there is new channels of engagement, new channels of ways to learn from our consumers, consumers that we’ve never seen before, never talked to before, but there’s definitely fundamental changes that – and ways of thinking that us as P&G – we’ll be struggling with in the short term because we’ve had hundreds of years, and if you think about the official design of the focus group is 50 years plus of how we do learning from our consumer – I think they’re changing on a much more rapid scale than ever before. I think the scale from the VCR to the DVD to the Blu-Ray player, from focus group to online to mobile is that kind of rapid change occurring, so we’re definitely in the midst of that, and we’ve been challenged to do that to make our business grow, so I’m sorry if there’s not new insight there, but just – it is a wrap.

Leonard Murphy:  Good wrap statement, kind of brings it all back together, and so Andrew, the researchers’ perspective?

Andrew Jeavons: I’d just make a quick comment that the biggest changes or the biggest differences in the way people approach surveys and research is coming from some of our clients, who – one of them’s Zynga, who are in games. Now, that whole gaming genre is very new, and they do things very differently, and it’s really interesting to observe, and, in a way, break all sorts of rules, but it works out for them, and we get  development requests that we would never get from traditional survey consumers or market research departments, and I think what we are finding is that while the survey thing is still vitally important, we’re seeing all sorts of different wrinkles, like people turning their loyalty panels into consumer panels. I quoted somebody from 9 million-person loyalty panel. It’s kind of interesting that people are doing things on a huge scale, and they’re breaking down barriers, so it’s all changing.

Leonard Murphy:  It is the top of the hour, and I need to be respectful of everybody’s time, I don’t see any questions on Twitter, but lots of comments. I would say this is maybe one of the best webinars that I’ve been on recently.

Steve Rappaport: Lenny, I want to thank you for inviting me and getting to meet and have a conversation with everybody, because it’s fantastic. I really enjoyed it.

Leonard Murphy: Thank you, Steve. We will definitely do it again, and Charlie and Andrew, you guys both know you’re on the hook for a future opportunity. One plug real quick before we sign off, and it was kind of thrown out there, the market research and mobile world conference we have coming up in Amsterdam in just three weeks. We’ll be talking about a lot of these topics at that conference, and then our July event here in the United States in Cincinnati.  I can say more than hopefully, there’ll be some other folks from P&G that will join us in that event in Cincinnati as well, so we’ll continue to partner in work and explore some of these ideas and how they impact our businesses. On behalf of Research Access and GreenBook, thank you very much, everybody, for your time and energy. There will be transcripts of this available shortly, as well as some blog posts, and hopefully audio recordings. Dana, thank you very much for serving as a host in the background. Everybody, have a great day.

Click here to access the webinar video and slides.

Editor’s Note:  A special “thank you” goes out to Focus Forward for transcribing the webinar.

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2 responses to “SoLoMo and Market Research: A Panel Discussion

  1. Excellent interview. Surveys will continue to play a critical role in research but social ecosystem offers insight opportunities that are in some ways exponentially greater than what can be achieved in traditional static surveys. I’m looking forward to “new” frontier of marketing and market research.

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