For ESOMAR Congress 2016, over a thousand research industry participants ventured into the beautiful city of New Orleans and partook in a mini-Mardi Gras – what better setting for #wow moments? Overflowing with learning opportunities for clients, agencies, and tech-providers alike, three key learnings stood out to us:

Young talent: A clear stage was given to young researchers and aspiring talent. Not just as a source of inspiration but as a forum for genuine research excellence.

Innovation: New and creative ways of approaching and mixing up business questions were presented, resulting in actionable, #wow insights.

Technology: Technology is being embraced more and more as a partner – not as a mere tool or capability.


Unique ads: use the data

To open, Dr JT Kostman – a man of many talents; data scientist, mathematician, and psychologist – shared his belief that big data and wide-scale data merging are essential to unlocking a new era of market research and ad relevance, targeting each consumer as unique individuals rather than a collective blob. Kostman’s least favourite of which, he revealed, is ‘Millennials’ – he reasoned with the room; if young people share so much, so voluntarily, distinguishing themselves so clearly from one another, why are we not making more of an effort to communicate in their language?

More to a house than meets the eye

During our pre-conference technology workshop, we covered three topics: Agile, big data, data merging, and A.I.. For Agile, Christophe Ovaere and Sylvain Garabiol encouraged attendees to draw houses in teams, based on ‘client briefs’. They then compared their results to the image from which the brief originated. Through this exercise, many participants recognised the shortcomings of processes within their own jobs. Ground rules are needed to unlock the benefits of Agile: flexibility, speed, low-cost – there’s no such thing as a free lunch!

For data merging, Dave Birch (ZappiStore’s CTO) reiterated Ray Poynter’s automation report: standardisation is a prerequisite for meaningfully merging data. We should become as standardised at storing data as shipping containers are standardised in transit.


Currently, each agency captures and correlates its data using a variety of platforms, methods, and formats. Attendees identified the benefits of appropriating a new strategy: ‘tidy data’ – coined as such by Hadley Wickham. Dave cited it as ‘a clear stepping stone towards the true merging of big data.’

The next question: if combined with A.I., where could an industry-wide revolutionary step like this lead us? To capture imaginations, we offered attendees a peek at what clients see when viewing our own visualised data and automated report analysis. If you’d like to learn more, Dave also talked about this during a webinar for NewMR.

ZappiStore Workshop

Young guns & Tinder

Sights were set on SSI Youth and the industry’s future, especially as researchers from #YES (Young ESOMAR Society) took to the stage and shared their big ideas in just sixty seconds. Two brave participants won the opportunity to present them in full: Emma Kirk of Join The Dots turned to hieroglyphic emojis; she encouraged MR to accept their increasing popularity and utilise their inherent versatility to enhance surveys for ‘millennials’. Kristin Burr from MESH, however, determined that a change to survey logistics better suited a modern lifestyle. An existence chained to our smart phones, in her view, calls for better accessibility, complimented by use of the famous Tinder swipe.

Tinder, it seems, has become a methodology thanks to SKIM’s Cori Deutsch, Joyce van Heeswijk, Julia Goernandt, Nijat Mammadbayli, and Patricia Dominguez. They tested ads from within the telecom industry among young audiences by swiping left and right, ‘to capture more implicit, emotional reactions,’ (The game-changing generation, 2016). Their impressions were deduced not only through the direction of these swipes, but also how long it took them to perform the gesture.


Seeing the lens through a different life

New Visions wanted to break down the barriers to eyeglasses in three growth markets (Brazil, India, China) where they are still considered unattractive or detrimental to one’s health; 47% of Chinese respondents believe wearing glasses causes fisheyes. Providing a fascinating exploration of the cultural differences advertising often needs to consider, New Visions pledged to ‘change things for the better – not just for the brand but also for the consumer,’ (Pushing the frontiers of the eyewear business, 2016).

Pitfalls in political polling

Understanding whether or not ‘political brands’ and campaigns garner an assured electorate response is quite a different ball game. Alexander Wheatley, Corporate Young Professional 2016, examined Brexit polling in an effort to uncover whether it’s a voter’s head or their heart that dictates a final decision at the ballot box. He told us, ‘If one wishes an accurate read on political situations, do not rely too heavily on polling exclusively. The methodology itself has inherent biases that can distort its findings; it is much wiser to diversify.’

His research (above) coincides with the release of new polling guidelines by ESOMAR – Wheatley says they provide ‘a much-needed step towards ensuring misrepresentation doesn’t have any insidious results on the political climate,’ ratifying Dr. JT Kostman’s mixed methodology approach to research; ‘good research is not narrow research’.

Product launch success: far and wide

Our own Christophe Ovaere, for instance, was blown away with the breadth of research featured in Ritanbara Mundrey’s Diamonds or Dust: ‘An amazing journey through data, detailing why India saw as many as 16,914 new FMCG product launches in 2012. From them, only 23 proven successes – and eight which have continued to flourish. Ritanbara rifled through insights at every angle, establishing the most impactful factors that contribute to success in this sphere… #wow!’

Dr Michael White

ESOMAR 2016 was a very special conference. We met amazing people from all areas of the industry, and we witnessed countless inspirational presentations. The lasting impression for us was that such a huge emphasis is now placed on innovation and the need to embrace technology as a true partner. It was Dr. Michael White and his jazz band who encouraged everyone at ESOMAR to keep a finger on their creative pulse, outlining the importance of improvisation and a continued optimistic approach to life – and data’s – stumbling blocks.

A James Hodges

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A James Hodges

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