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Talking About NewMR: An Interview With Ray Roynter

For a little more information on the Festival of NewMR virtual conference and research in general, Ray Poynter has generously agreed to answer a few questions.


Editor’s Note:  I’ve had the privilege of collaborating on various fronts with Ray Poynter for several years now, and he is one of the true leaders of our industry. His Festival of NewMR and NewMR lecture series, as well as his books, workshops, event talks and other very public initiatives to showcase the best and brightest of the research industry are invaluable resources for us all.

Canadian research pro Paul Long reached out to Ray to discuss what’s new with NewMR and what we can expect in the future. It’s good stuff.

Ray will be helping to Chair, conducting a workshop, and presenting at IIeX in Atlanta next month so if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him, make sure to register: it’s worth it. Also stay tuned for some news on how we’ll be working with NewMR later this year: there are some exciting things in the works!


By Paul Long

This past December the fourth annual Virtual NewMR Festival took place. The festival, for those reading who are unfamiliar with it, takes place online, through a collection of webinars with speakers presenting remotely from all over the world. The conference took place over the course of one day, but an extremely long day, as it followed time zone changes across the world so that the first session started in the morning in Sydney, Australia, and ended late afternoon Eastern Standard Time in North America, some 23 hours later. For the 2013 running of the Festival there was a just over 11 hours of presentations split into Pacific, Asia, Europe, Atlantic and Americas sessions.

The annual festivals are organized by, which is managed by Ray Poynter (Vision Critical University, UK) and Sue York (Red Balloon Consultancy, Australia). Each of the five sessions moderated by different market research industry experts, and including market research presentations from different areas of specialization.

In addition to the annual Virtual NewMR Festival a series of shorter NewMR webinars take place over the course of the year. Both the Festival and the other webinars that run are a great way for the global market research community to learn from the shared knowledge of other researchers.

For a little more information on the Virtual NewMR Festival and questions on research in general, Ray Poynter has generously agreed to answer a few of my questions by email.

Paul Long: Ray, first off thank you very much for agreeing to answer my questions regarding the NewMR Festival. Ray, you mention on the website that the idea regarding the Festival came from a comment within the NewMR LinkedIn group. Do you recall if the comment was for just a short conference or a longer global one like you are running now? I ask because I would suspect the idea of taking on an online conference of the scale of the NewMR Festival must have seemed quite daunting. What convinced you that it was possible to do so?

Ray Poynter: Hubris is probably the core reason I had submitted what I thought was a really good synopsis to a conference and received a rejection and made a comment about it. Somebody, and I really can’t remember who said why don’t you create your own conference, and I thought why not? At that stage, we were protected by the ignorance of now knowing what would be involved in creating the first Market Research virtual conference – even webinars were relatively rare back then.

PL: One element of many conferences these days is an active Twitter stream. Certainly the Virtual NewMR Festival has been no exception, with many questions and key learnings being added by attendees. Do you think that this helps bridge the gap between an in-person conference, where all attendees are in person and can socialize during breaks with other attendees, and an online conference, since it allows a community feeling during the conference?

RP: I think it helps bridge the gap, but I think we need to do more to make the core messages and materials available to people who can’t attend. However, Twitter certainly helps those taking part enjoy it more, people can get insight into what other participants think, and the photos are great.

PL: Of all the topics that have been addressed during NewMR events, what do you think will have the greatest impact on market research in the next few years?

RP: I think the biggest impact will be in terms of some of the people we have been able to help reach a wider audience, people like Jon Puleston, Betty Adamou, and Annie Pettit – all of whom would have become well known without us, but we like to think we helped accelerate the process. I think NewMR has promoted a sceptical optimism that will help the industry move forward, but in a safer, more considered way. I think we have also done our bit for accessible information, as opposed to black boxes, patents, and constant IP worries.

PL: You have often mentioned that mobile research has been the “next big thing” for many years, and you recently indicated it had fulfilled its promise. What do you think is the biggest way mobile is impacting research?

RP: The main role, at the moment, for mobile has been to allow existing methods to carry on for a bit longer. Mobile online surveys are about 25% of all surveys, mobile CATI is fast moving towards 50% – so that is more of the same. At the more nuanced level, what these two are doing is widening the reach of surveys and CATI to people we were missing before, younger, more mobile, busier people. Beyond that passive data and in the moment are the two that are beginning to make a difference, and these will expand market research.

PL: If wearable technologies become mainstream in the next few years do you think it will also have a place in market research? If so to what extent, a niche area or a majorly disruptive technology?

RP: I love wearable, but I don’t think it will be mainstream in the foreseeable future. It will have a part in research, mostly with people who sign up to take part, communities, panels, and projects like ShopKick

PL: And lastly, any plans on updating your book “The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research”?

RP: Yes, it is just a matter of when. I have a new book coming out in September, The Handbook of Mobile Research, so an update to Online and Social should start next year.

PL: Ray, thank you very much for your time, and continued best of luck with the upcoming NewMR events.

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Paul Long

Paul Long

Manager - Marketing & Market Research, CPA Canada