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Re:thinking Research with the ARF


Next week marks the beginning of a pretty intense period of travel and events for me, but I can’t think of a better way to kick it off than with the annual ARF Re:think conference, arguably the largest and most prestigious industry conference around (I’ll let IIR  & ARF duke it out for the official title).  The conference line up is a spectacular mix of the most senior business leaders involved in our industry from most of the leading companies, while also making plenty of room for thought leaders, innovators, and disruptors. Plus, the ARF just knows how to put on a first class event; it’s always a great experience.

There are a few sessions happening that I am particularly interested in:

Getting Ahead of Change

The general feeling is that much of research industry innovation is being done by startups, not the “big guys” who just “watch and buy up the startups.” Hear first-hand from the heads of the largest research companies why this isn’t true and what their innovation strategies are. They will also discuss how their companies plan to deal with the continuing uncertainty in marketing that has been brought about by technology. What are they doing about mobile? How are they using social media? How are they achieving a holistic metric and even a metric that can be trusted online?

David Calhoun – CEO, Nielsen
Eileen Campbell – Global CEO, Millward Brown
Matthias Hartmann – CEO, GfK
Eric Salama – Chairman and CEO, Kantar
Didier Truchot – Chairman and CEO, Ipsos
Romesh Wadhwani – Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Symphony Technology Group
Robert Bain – Deputy Editor, Research Magazine

What an amazing panel discussion this will be; I consider this one worth the price of admission alone. You can bet many a blog will be written about what is said here, and I am thrilled that Robert Bain from Research will be moderating this discussion; I can’t wait to read his take as well!

Digital Influence on Purchase Decisions: Research View

In this session, research partners and corporate sponsors of the ARF Arrowhead research project share findings and implications linked to digital/social media influence on the purchase process. See how the multi-method, qualitative, and quantitative research design revealed surprising insights about this dynamic environment.

Dorothy Advincula – Sr. Survey Research Manager, comScore
Manila Austen – VP, Research, Communispace Corporation
Paul Banas – Senior Category Insights Manager, Kraft Foods
Belle Frank – EVP, Director of Strategy & Research, Y&R
Eleanor Frederich – Director, Brand & Marketing Research, Motorola Mobility
Jeffrey Graham Ph.D. – Director of Advertising Research Americas Region, Google
Stacy Graiko – Director, Qualitative Research, Firefly Millward Brown
Nina Leask – Market Research Digital Manager, General Motors
Jasper Snyder – VP of Conversation Mining, Converseon
Todd Powers – EVP, Primary Research, ARF

Again, an amazing lineup of panelists, this time from the client and supplier sides discussing important “research on research” findings that may have a profound impact on the future of the research industry. This one is a must attend.

Half of My Advertising is Working—The Trouble is I Don’t Know Why

Much of what passes for advertising science has its origins back in the 50s and 60s, when over two-thirds of advertising budgets were spent on packaged goods. These days, more than two-thirds of advertising budgets come from areas other than packaged goods, where the decision architecture is far more complex, i.e. switching broadband providers or buying home insurance. In this keynote, Rory Sutherland will argue why a new intellectual framework is required to engage consumers in order to develop a more accurate, real time understanding of our customers’ decision architecture.

Rory Sutherland – Vice Chairman, Ogilvy Group UK

I’ve never had the pleasure of hearing Rory speak, but I love everything I’ve ever read about his past talks. He is a true boundary breaker, and a key influencer in helping to drive the industry forward.

Mobile Focus Groups Change the Game from Gigwalk

Bob Bahramipour – VP of Business Development, Gigwalk
Surveys, in-person focus groups, and product testing fail to capture consumers in their natural flow. Today, mobile research technologies enable brands to understand the perceptions, behaviors, and tastes of shoppers in the wild. Through easy-to-use smartphone apps, researchers can instantly connect to mobile focus groups and gather real-time insights from consumers in the real world. Bob will look at how mobile focus groups can offer intimate details into the entire consumer experience from the store to the home.

You know how I’m always harping about disruptive companies from outside the market research industry making inroads into the market? Well, Gigwalk is one and for them to be presenting on this topic at Re:think is a bold introduction into the industry. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say. Watch these guys; more are following them.

Research Now is conducting a series of interviews with industry leaders as part of their “Research Now Live” sessions at the conference. The line up is very impressive indeed, and I suspect the interviews will be made available through multiple sites afterwards. These are sure to be chock full of great information, so keep a look out for them!



I thought I would simply be an attendee at this year’s event, but Kevin Lonnie was kind enough to invite me to participate in 2 sessions KL Communications is sponsoring in the Insights Zone. Here is the synopsis:

Disruption is coming to Market Research: In Defending our Turf, We Need to Think Opportunities!

With the advent of social media, big data and the emerging influence of Google and Facebook, the MR world is rapidly evolving.  In fact, it’s no safe bet that these new tools & players will operate under the market research umbrella.   Our presentation will reveal initial findings on the power struggles over ownership of social media and big data within the corporation.   

Lenny and Kevin will speak to the impact of these new forces and why they will hasten the demise of the “Big Box/Full Service” supplier and usher in the age of the Differentiated Research Agency.

If you’re attending on Monday, March 26th from 10:30-11:00pm or 2:30-3:00pm in the Showcase Room of the Insights Zone swing by and see two Irishmen pontificating about the future of the industry. It will be fun!

The best aspect of Re:think, like all conferences, is the networking and there are 2 excellent after hours events planned that should provide plenty of opportunity for it. The first is on Sunday night as The Research Club does their second annual “Ignite New York”  event.



The evening begins at 7:30pm with complimentary drinks & snacks. The format is very simple, come & meet with like-minded research professionals, giving you a great opportunity to forge new business relationships and cement established ones. The Ignite portion of the evening will begin at around 8.30 pm and 5 intrepid presenters will dazzle you with their wit and wisdom. Each speaker will be rated by our learned panel & the evening closes at 9:30pm with the selection and crowning of the winning speaker.
And for those of you game to participate as an Ignite speaker, submit your speaking proposal via this link:

The winner of the Ignite competition will be invited to have their presentation published (in a form of a blog post or video) on the GreenBook blog to reach an even wider audience over a longer period of time.

Ending the conference is an event near and dear to my heart: Our True GRIT Party! Join 200 research industry pros, many from the GRIT 50 list, as we celebrate innovation in market research at this free little shindig. It’s going to be a lot of fun



I’ll be posting about ARF periodically next week to share what I see, hear, and learn while there. We also have a great lineup of new posts from several of your favorite GreenBook Blog authors, so keep checking back often to stay on top of everything  .

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Leonard Murphy

Leonard Murphy

Executive Editor & Producer, GreenBook