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Posts from September 2011

Addendum on Internet penetration and privacy expectations

A couple of weeks back I posted some data from an SSI survey in a number of Asian countries in which respondents were asked about the degree to which they agree or disagree with this statement:

Companies should be allowed to collect information from social networking sites when it is posted online in a public forum.

I did a quick correlation of percent agree (completely agree plus somewhat agree) with Internet penetration and came up with -.95.  In other words, the higher the country's Internet penetration the less likely they are to agree that that companies should be allowed to collect information from social networking sites when it is posted online in a public forum. From this I concluded that the more mainstream Internet penetration becomes the greater expectation of privacy in social media. Pete Cape from SSI then sent me data on the seven major EU countries to add into the Asia data to redo the exercise. I did that and the correlation fell to -.83. I only have an N of 13 but nonetheless I think my previous conclusion stands, my hypothesis confirmed. 

The other striking thing about these data is how few people agree with that statement, especially in the EU and US.


A Contrast of Conferences: Part 1 - IIR Technology-Driven MR

My colleague, Theo Downes-LeGuin, has agreed to a return engagement as a guest blogger and to share his impressions from two MR conferences he attended earlier in the year. This is the first of two installments.

I attended two very similar conferences separated by a month and 800 miles earlier this summer. IIR's Technology Driven Market Research Event attracted a healthy crowd (especially for a first-year event) to Chicago in early May. CASRO's Technology Conference followed in early June, with modest overlap in attendees. It's taken me till now to find the time to write up a few thoughts on the first conference. I'm banking on the fact that even market research doesn't move so fast as to make three month-old information useless.

Although both these conferences focused on technology platforms and processes, I found much of the content indistinguishable from other MR conferences I've attended in the past two years. This says more about the mindset of our industry than about these specific conferences: right now, industry focus is almost entirely on technology tools, and on technology-based sources for insights. As Simon Chadwick submitted in his Research World editorial around the time of these conferences, creativity and innovation abounds in MR right now. I would add that it abounds mostly in the area of software and networked platforms (broadly defined).

Leonard Murphy's opening remarks at the IIR event included a useful taxonomy of traditional, transitional and future models of MR. The basic idea is that we are moving from data silos, methodological rigor and low touch approaches for data collection to "data oceans," methods agnosticism, and high-touch, people-driven methods. I find the contrast of methods rigor vs. methods agnosticism odd – one could argue that the most rigorous researchers are in fact methods agnostic because they (a) know all possible approaches and (b) choose the right approach without prejudice. But to be fair, I'm not sure that Leonard actually offered these as opposing trends.

I always challenge myself to identify some broad themes across presentations, and here's what I hit upon at IIR:

  • Emotions are underestimated and under-measured by most market research.
  • Neurofoo (foo can be –science, -marketing, or –design) is at hot as Hansel in Zoolander. Even after several presentations on or around this topic, I think most of us in the room would have been challenged to distinguish the various neurosomething research approaches on offer or to match them to a multiplicity of business problems most of us work on. Can attention, emotional engagement and memory retention (the three main neuromarketing metrics) cover every research need?
  • Facebook integration is a fascinating research opportunity, since Facebook (a) is big and (b) does a lot to authenticate identities of users so we don't have to. But does Facebook really want researchers in the walled garden, and if so, what are the privacy issues we must account for independent of their controls?
  • For all the calls for punchy, visual and narratively-oriented presentations, even at conferences, researchers are highly reliant on dense PowerPoint. A neuromarketing finding related to this point: numbers don't activate the brain emotionally, whereas words do. So one school of thought is that presentations should be more visual, while the other reminds us that words actually do a good job of activating the audience.
  • Data is no longer a plural word, even among a room full of research professionals. Sadness.

Bill McElroy ended with a typically empirical and sober view of what role technology plays in the success of MR firms. Using a survey of MR firms and an third party index of technology propensity developed for project-oriented companies, he showed that proclivity to adopt technology is only modestly correlated with company success. But he also suggested that this can be explained by the fact that smaller, newer MR companies adopt technology more readily, and those companies have a higher failure rate and acquisition rate (acquisition serving to "hide" successful tech adoption).

More on the CASRO conference to come.

Geeks don’t care about privacy but real people do

Yesterday a colleague in our Hong Kong office passed on a few screen captures from an ESOMAR/SSI webinar on social media use in Asia. Given all of the recent hubbub about social media research and privacy I found this one to be especially interesting.    ScreenHunter_09 Sep. 01 15.31 As I have written here before, the argument the industry is having often comes down to disagreement about people's expectations when they post something on a social networking site.  For me, at least, the intriguing thing about these data is not the clear expectation of privacy in the US and the EU—I think most of us already knew that--but rather how to explain the sometimes dramatic differences among countries. I ran through various explanations in my head including culture, level of economic development, political system, etc. and none seemed to work. There was always an exception or two.

And then it hit me: Internet penetration! So I did a quick correlation of percent agreeing that "companies should be allowed to collect information from social networking sites when it is posted online in a public forum" with Internet penetration as reported by Internet World Stats. I know, only seven observations but bear with me. The correlation is -.96. So the more Internet use goes mainstream the greater the expectation of privacy.  Early Internet adopters don't care about privacy or at least accept it as a risk of being online, but real people do care and expect protection.