True Life: I'm Addicted to Research

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Sounds like we should send Bravo over to A&E for an Intervention. Apparently, they are addicted to research, as if it were an illegal substance.

"We snort up research like fine Colombian cocaine."

Said Andy Cohen, TV host and Bravo executive. This enthusiasm must be what makes "Watch What Happens Live" the number one late night TV show. People get the change this show, affect it. They call, they tweet, they email. Like my earlier entry, Cohen talks about Twitter as a focus group. He discusses firing certain Bravo celebs due to negative feedback.

Overally, Cohen says:

"I'm a big believer in going with your gut. Do what you want, but if it's not what the other person wants, let go. ...Learn from your failures and at least try to study what didn't work."

And how could I not agree? Aren't we all just a little bit addicted to research? We read newspapers and magazines which are filled with research and statistics even when we don't realize it. What is a profile other than an in-depth interview? What is a quiz in a magazine other than a mini-survey?

Research is everywhere. It's it's water, it's products, it's brands, it's on the street, in the classroom, it's cocaine.

Final Sale, Finals Shopping: A Study Proposal

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I'm interested in learning if there is a connection between the stress of finals during the fall semester coinciding with sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

To study this I would propose a qualitative study, particularly a focus group. I don't think qualitative would be the right way to go, because it would be easy to see how much shopping college students do during finals, but not easy to attach causation to stress.

In the focus group you would want a variety of men and women, although the study would more likely be geared toward the latter. Questions should start out simple, talking about shopping habits and school work load. Each participant could include information about their online shopping and may be more likely to do so if their peers are also participating.


Further into the study you might want to do an exercise to measure their levels of stress, therefore the actually group must meet during finals time. In order to encourage this, an incentive would have to be offered, such as a discount at a store.

Billions of people shop in stores and online, but what impact do college students-- marketers' hardest to reach segment-- have on the sales? Focus group data might help answer this paired with data from companies and creditors, although that may cause legal or ethical issues.


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As researchers continue to look for new and cost-effective methods to reach the general public, they may not need to look further than social media hotspot Twitter.

I don't know why I didn't think of this myself. Rates for answering phone and mail surveys are low these days, with consumers focusing their free time on the internet and those methods becoming all but obsolete. Twitter is a constant influx of data and the perfect resource for researchers trying to stay fresh.


According to Ad Age, a campaign using Twitter generated 55% higher click through rates than the rest of the effort. That was back in 2008 and since then this method is only growing in popularity.

You have a whole database of willing participants who are trolling the internet anyway. They might be less likely to view posts as explicit "advertisements" or "research surveys." You eliminate a slew of barriers that usually prevent high response rates.

I think one of the biggest problems with this form of data gathering is, like most internet research, the results can't necessarily qualify as being scientific. Usernames prevent true identities from being reached and you can't apply your findings to the general population. However, I still feel like this is worth pursuing for numerous study designs.

"That's Insane, Mate"

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A new viral campaign has come out of New Zealand DDB is really taking their language seriously.

New Zealand is only one country of many where women make less money than men. This new ad highlights this fact with a parking lot attendant charging a man 10% more than women are charged.

When the male inquires as to why he's being charged more the attendent is quick to tell him that it's due to him having a penis. He replies with a swift, "That's insane, man!"

This ad is interesting for a lot of reasons. DDB took a risk by using a word that is usually avoided in advertisements. It invokes an uncomfortable feeling almost, which is exactly its intention. The ad aims to make you uncomfortable that women on average are paid 10 percent less for doing the exact same job.

I think this advertisement is incredibly effective. Obviously DDB knew that the key strategy to reaching men would be to target their own securities. This would have meant research on the psychology of men and money.

The website formed around this video calls for a petition with 100,000 male and 100,000 female signatures. I wonder if this list will be used to further promote gender equality or be sold and distributed to interested parties. Will the penises care?

Here's their website with some great design that is sure to be mentioned in upcoming strat comm media outlets:


Rosling: Data Nouveau

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TED talks are a gold mine for researchers. This particular one caught my attention because of it's relation to one of my favorite subjects: statistics. Research doesn't provide much if there isn't an analysis where statistics are analyzed. Hans Rosling took the opportunity of this TED talk to discuss his company's growth in creating searchable public data.

Last week in class we discussed how to present data in an interesting manor. This is something Rosling really excelled at. He included some humor (comparing his grad students and fellow professors to chimpanzees) and managed to make a difficult concept like "Global Health" easy to understand.

The main point Rosling was trying to reach was to show that public data exists and there is no reason why the public should not be able to access it. His bright colors and moving visuals were captivating and show a whole new way to convey statistics to those with minimal background in the subject.

Here's one example of the old system:

Compared with his new company "Gapminder" and their vision:

This is eye-opening information that could change global research entirely. I wonder if there would be any impact on strategic communications professionals as they globalize their markets. It's another story of "time will tell..."

Ipsos is I-Say, I See They Say

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According to the blog on Greenbook, Ipsos is the second most talked about market research company in the bizz. Ipsos has recently changed their name to I-Say so I wandered over to the redesigned website to sneak a peek.

I was surprised that the site is geared more toward adding panel members than marketing to companies that may want to use their data. The first screen asked you to sign up. I figured this would be good experience as to what this process consists of, so I went ahead and put in all my information.

With this company, you take surveys as they become available and have the chance of receiving cash, paypal funds, gift cards, or donations to various charities. One thing I find interesting is the incentive here for the participant to choose to donate. When given these options the guilt factor might play into the choice which could benefit the company when they write off the donations in their taxes.

I joined I-Say and started a few of their basic surveys. I was disappointed with the survey design from the get-go. I was asked how many people are in my household, which I always find a difficult question as a college student. I'm not quite independent of my parents, but I'm also not necessarily a part of their household. How should one respond? That also related to my income and whether or not someone in my household owns a car. I don't personally, but my parents do. How does that translate? There were a few options where "1 or less" definitely should have said 0-1. That's another pet peeve that I've seen on numerous surveys in the last few months.

I also feel like their site needs a whole new redesign to look more modern. With graphics like this, they could stand to improve:


I don't think they are doing anything particularly innovative with their company. Listing just basic quantitative services that don't get to the root of many issues. I will probably continue using Ipsos/I-say mostly out of curiosity. I would like to understand more about why they were listed as a top company and whether the change-over to I-Say has positively or negatively affected their company.

Got Captcha?

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Researchers will stop at nothing to reach consumers, but Solve Media has taken it one step further than their competitors.

Brand research imbedded within captcha.

My initial reaction: First I thought "seriously?!" Then I had a long internal debate about the level of ethics that Solve might be breeching. It makes me alternately find them brilliant and then turn around to make sure no one saw me appreciating such blatant advertising.

I suppose if they're going to make you prove your humanity you might as well be doing something useful (I don't include squinting in that category). However, I'm confused about the ROI for this method. I have a hard time believing that it will instill any brand identities within the consumers top-of-mind behavior.

Additionally, how good can the results actually be? Won't people be frustrated and type whatever without giving the actual product much thought? People tend to be easily annoying by this type of research and advertising combination and I believe in the end there must be a more effective method.

I Can No Longer Turn Down A Survey Part 2: Or Can I?

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Originally I was shaking my fist at JOUR 3251 for making it impossible for me to turn down a survey. The tiny researcher on my shoulder was going "What if you had written that and needed responses?" or "Don't you want to know what kind of double-barreled questions they wrote" or "I'm going to give them some REAL results!"

I'm assuming my tiny researcher looks something like this:

Anyway, that's until CYBER MONDAY happened. I'm as guilty as the next consumer of falling prey to this particular day of "promotions" (although I might be less gullible about what constitutes an actual deal in a situation like this).

These companies are smart. Highest online traffic day of the year? Of course they are going to take advantage of a unique opportunity to generate feedback about their website/store/brand/etc.

First the little box pops up asking if you'd be willing to participate later. I guess this is a good way of asking permission and giving advance notice rather than bombarding with a survey after (now I'm starting to wonder if it also tracks what you do on the site...). You go about your shopping experience and finally close that tab- one of many in a sea of shopping.

Then it's there. In front of you. Asking "Please rate how this website compares to your ideal website." What kind of question is that? My ideal website? Ideally, I would not be bothered. Ever. Period. Ideally, everything would be FREE. Ideally, your website not important enough to be considered ideal!

I sat through a fair number of these. You lose track after a while. Maybe it was three, maybe it was ten. REI had a decent one. JC Penny's went into excruciating detail. And then I snapped. After all the retail surveys I sat through I went to read my textbook on a website and there it was- the little box asking "Will you participate in a survey after your visit?"

It was long. It asked terrible questions. It wanted to know what I thought of tools on the site I didn't even know about and wouldn't let me tell them how I actually felt!

This was the first survey since September that I closed out of without finishing. I now wonder if I've broken the spell or if my survey-compulsion will continue to answer for another day.

Social Media Analytics Seminar

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This year I was given a great opportunity to work with the Youth Farm and Market Project on developing a social media policy. Our marketing committee met to discuss what goals we would have and how we could measure our successes. This is why I found the seminar offered through Carlson intriguing and thought I would scope it out.

First, attending this seminar encouraged me to attend more speaking events on Friday afternoons after realizing there are refreshments and ample opportunities to network!

Ahmed Abbasi was an incredibly knowledgeable speaker. He started off by showing the classic social media video:

When I discussed the seminar with Professor Ball I found it humorous that she and I enjoyed the event for different reasons. When he got into data mining and spiders and particularly talking about the drug market I found myself losing interest. The beginning where he spoke of the emerging patterns in social media and the results that social media can generate were more of what I wanted to learn about. However, I think it's important for all SJMC students to be aware of what social media analytics are and just how much they have transformed in the last few years.

Since attending Ahmed's speech I have come across this topic numerous times in both my marketing and advertising classes. I have cited information from Ahmed's PowerPoint when discussing how public relations should present their ROI to their superiors.

Overall I'm glad I attended this session and look forward to looking into social media analytics into the future as everyone in our profession watches them evolve.

Survey Monkey vs. Stellar Survey

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This semester I created two surveys to distribute to fellow classmates. For this course I used Survey Monkey, which is reputable as being an easy to use and reliable tool. For a course through agriculture education I created a survey through Stellar Survey which I found via a Google search. Below I have listed the pros and cons of each.


Offers free account
Able to create multi-page questionnaires
Ability to require certain questions are answered
Easy to navigate
Clean, sleek design makes page easy to look at
Reputable name, everyone has heard of it

Only able to analyze 100 results
When viewing results from one participant numbers became inconsistant
Cannot create charts/graphs


Allows you to create a free account
No limit to results
Easy to create questions
Creates charts

Page design looks old and less professional
People haven't heard of it and might be less comfortable responding
Colors and themes are less appealing
Must alter preferences to view multiple answers at once

Overall, choosing which website to use in the future would depend heavily on what results I was looking to find. If I planned to accumulate responses from over 100 people I would automatically want to go with Stellar Survey or another free website that doesn't limit my responses. It was not worth it to be overly confused by Survey Monkey which was giving me different answers for "Respondent 70" the first time I view the results and the second time. It's also worthwhile to be able to create the charts and view information cohesively.

However, if I needed to distribute a survey to just a few classmates I would feel more comfortable using Survey Monkey which is a name that my peers have come to trust.

Using both Stellar and Monkey was beneficial, but I think there could be better programs yet to come.