At the Media Research Group Conference in Malta last year, we reflected that our industry was going through a readjustment following a very brutal economic period. There was much solidarity among us and some early positive signs that research budgets were returning.
So, one year on from Malta and are we there yet?
The pace of technological change has certainly quickened. Earlier this year, we saw that for the first time ever, Smartphones were outselling PCs. Apple then told us that 25 million iPads were sold in the first 14 months of their availability and 14 billion apps have been downloaded in less than 3 years. The mobile app revolution is affecting consumer and media behaviour. The door is therefore open for the industry to deliver more engaging content and advertising; and for researchers to create engaging and rich research opportunities.
Collectively, therefore, we need to change. Collectively, we need to experiment.
In Tim Harford’s excellent book, Adapt – why success always starts with failure, he describes 3 essential steps of how to adapt to changes in business and everyday life. First, try new things and expect that some will fail. Second, make failure survivable – move forward in small steps. And third, make sure you know when you’ve failed or you will never learn.
Are media owners and agencies adapting to change?
Many publishers for example have struggled to make their digital content commercially viable. There has been much talk that tablets are the game changer, but the challenge still exists to effectively monetise the value of advertising on tablets alongside that of print. Furthermore, agencies and advertisers are itching to understand the power of online advertising beyond the measurable ‘last click’.
While online video ads are an effective way of extending campaign reach for brands, recent research suggests that only about half are watched to completion. This has implications for ad effectiveness and user engagement.
For outdoor, the challenge still exists to demonstrate to potential advertisers that an airport OTS is worth what is being charged for it. This is exacerbated by the limitations of airport fieldwork and so provides an opportunity for researchers to find creative methodological solutions using the likes of, for example, mobile and social media.
Talking of social media, researchers have the opportunity to capitalise on the availability of social networking sites and the data that they contain, by observing the interactions between individuals and groups in their natural social settings. Media owners of course need to understand what online engagement is, on what levels it occurs, and how it should be measured. The dissenters, however, may argue that this signals the end of survey research as we know and love:
“Survey research will decline dramatically in importance by 2020, with social media listening replacing much of it and adding new dimensions”
- Joan Lewis, Consumer and Market Knowledge Officer, Procter & Gamble (2011)
Researchers need to adapt and experiment too.
At this year’s MRG one day conference at RIBA in London on 1st December, we have a line up of papers that embrace change and take on all the issues I’ve laid out above and more.
Mediacom, News International & Kantar Media, JC Decaux, Google, Channel 5 & Ipsos MediaCT, Radio Advertising Bureau & Sparkler, Telegraph and Sky will tackle today’s business challenges showcasing research covering traditional and new methodological techniques.
We will also have a panel of media agency insight directors discussing hot topics and the author and broadcaster, Tim Harford, will deliver our keynote speech.
John Carroll is Senior Director at Ipsos MediaCT and Chair of the Media Research Group.