Addressing Research in the Digital Landscape


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Continuing last week’s discussion on the Advertising & Marketing series hosted by the Ad Club of NYC, two Millward Brown Digital Research Analysts, Hannah Pavalow and Nicole Romano, provide additional insight on this week’s relevant topic of marketing research. Millward Brown’s own Senior Partner, Ann Green, spoke to the group about the challenges researchers face today. For instance, did you know “marketers are willing to sacrifice quality for speed?” We touched upon this issue in last week’s blog post. But in case you didn’t realize…this is a big issue! Not only does it put extra time pressure on the researchers themselves, increasing the probability of error, but sacrificing the data quality diminishes the opportunity for advertisers to see the whole story behind what’s really happening. It’s scary to think that right now serious strategy decisions are being made off of a glass of insights that is only half full. Then again, advertisers are shooting themselves in the foot if they are trying to find a short cut to the truth.

Another issue addressed by Green is that surveys abuse people. The number one reason why people drop out of a survey… length. Not only do we need to do a better job asking questions while using language that is clear and to the point, but we also need to approach consumers with our research needs on their terms. We live in an age of multi-tasking. No one wants to spend an hour of their time doing just one thing. How unproductive! Now that the digital landscape has taken over, surveys are making their way onto the mobile platform. People who are looking for ways to occupy their time while commuting or waiting on long lines can take a survey when and where it’s convenient for them.

Although these technological advancements make it easier to reach people wherever they are, the research industry must also understand the complexities of these new platforms. While digital tracking and passive measurement allow for greater insight and analysis it also introduces new questions of privacy. In a space where people feel it is increasingly difficult to maintain a sense of privacy, what can researchers offer respondents in order to gain access to their honest thoughts and opinions? Green spoke about this when discussing the balance between privacy and reciprocity; the challenge of making the consumer feel like there is value in sharing. Giving back to the respondent can be through literal compensation, but it can also come in the form of creating an enjoyable experience. Using gamification to make survey taking fun can allow respondents to feel as though their efforts are respected and acknowledged. Consumers are raising their expectations. If we continue to rely on access to the information only they can provide, then we need to continue to give them something they’ll appreciate in return.

This challenge has also appeared in the world of digital advertising. Since the start, the internet has been considered a democratic platform, a place where even the smallest voice can be heard. There is this expectation that content on the internet should be freely available to everyone and information is meant to be shared. More than any other medium, the internet has had the hardest time introducing advertising to the user in a natural way. There is this expectation that exposure to good advertising should provide value and offer a unique experience. If these expectations are met, consumers will be more willing to interact with a brand. Consumers, however, aren’t willing to just give their time and attention away for free. They want to be entertained and engaged in the online space. The best way to gather the juiciest insights is to strengthen the relationship with the ones who are stuck clicking through that 45 minute survey you designed. To all the researchers out there, let’s cut back on survey length and give the people a break (when possible).