Still Shifting: An Update on TCPA and the 2016 Dialing Landscape

Despite the FCC labeling their sweeping new TCPA changes as final back in July 2015 when they were announced, the actual dialing reality for survey call centers in the US is still shifting and settling.

VOIP headset on laptop computer keyboard concept for communication, it support, call center and customer service help desk

By Tim Gorham

Despite the FCC labeling their sweeping new TCPA changes as final back in July 2015 when they were announced, the actual dialing reality for survey call centers in the US is still shifting and settling.

The initial July 2015 ruling was a set of strict, sweeping changes that affected everyone in the phone survey research industry. In summary, it stated:

  • An autodialer may not be used to contact any mobile number in the US unless explicit consent was received from the number’s owner.
  • Dialing hardware could not be used, even if it only had the ability to be used as an autodialer, regardless of whether those features were being used.
  • The burden of knowing which numbers were mobile and which were landlines rested on the shoulders of the dialing party. If a number was reassigned, a call center was responsible in tracking that and were give only a single erroneous dial to figure it out.

The ruling itself aimed to counteract an outdated reality – it seemed to be a response to the cost of incoming calls to mobile phone owners. It ignored the fact that major carriers across the United States have all but abolished the charging of talk and text by the minute in favor of unlimited anytime calls.

Another thing that seemed clear to industry analysts was that the changes were designed to dissuade fully robotic telemarketing and automated random-digit dialing. But since the changes were so sweeping and did not specify anything regarding the content of the calls, it also unfairly targeted real interviewers at survey call centers who use automated dialers to contact numbers off of authentic lists of respondents.

So naturally, the changes were not taken lightly by valid survey call centers across the nation. Industry leaders from CASRO and the MRA filed a motion to intervene. They demanded clarity around the definition of an autodialer, and sought relief from the risk of dialing reassigned numbers.

Possibly due in part to the pressure from legitimate researchers, the FCC has since announced exemption for the federal government and its contractors, indicating a shift back towards exemptions for legitimate survey call centers working on legitimate research projects.

Shortly thereafter, a closely followed TCPA court case came down on the side of the defendant. Thanks to this ruling, the hotly debated definition of an autodialer finally had a little clarity, and it shone a little more light onto the FCC’s definition. Because a real human had activated the dialing within their CATI system to dial the phone, it was not considered an autodial. The hardware used did not have the capacity to auto-dial without human intervention, and had no predictive or random number capabilities.

So it’s clear that the initially sweeping TCPA regulations are being relaxed a little to account for human-staffed survey call centers conducting valid research. More changes are still expected and being pushed for, and far more concrete definitions should soon help survey call centers better adapt.

We’re keeping a close eye on the shifting definition of the ruling, and ensuring that Voxco TCPA Connect always adapts to the legal reality. TCPA Connect is a manual dialer with no capability of autodialing or predictive dialing. It can be used as a single button-dialer that connects directly to Voxco CATI and lets human interviewers contact respondents far more efficiently than manual dialing. We offer multiple possible deployment scenarios that fit varying needs.

Designed and managed by phone survey experts, Voxco TCPA Connect will always offer the maximum productivity while allowing call centers to adapt to the 2016 dialing reality. Give us a shout to see how it could work for you.


Focus Group Moderation: How Empathy Creates Surprise

Empathy is one of those research terms that is over-used, yet under-leveraged.


By Kerry Walsh

It’s hard not to think you know everything. I find this to be true in most realms, (ask my husband), but especially in the world of market research.

Many of my clients have been working in the same category or industry for years, and have almost heard it all. They’ve sat through hundreds of focus groups, visited people’s homes, met their kids and pets, peered into their refrigerators and closets, shopped with them, slept with them (just kidding) – doggedly hunting for a fresh idea that might lead to opportunity. Mostly, they look outside themselves, hoping someone will say something that sparks.

But here’s what I’ve learned: Your own filter will completely determine what you learn or don’t learn in any given situation. It isn’t what they say, it’s what you hear. And more important, it’s what you feel that’s going to lead to a fresh perspective. Empathy is the mechanism that creates this opportunity.

After 25 years of moderating, I’m consistently surprised and enlightened by what people say and do. Recently I did some in-depth interviews with new moms about the challenges they face in transition. Through their tears, I heard anxiety about feeling ill-equipped in a perfectionist society to “do things right” in this unfamiliar role. (I could feel the pressure.) Moreover, they were losing their sense of self in the process, and were clearly little bitter about it. These women were feeling lost and alone – while the world keeps telling them how happy they should be. (I could feel their frustration and disappointment.) A major shift in marketing strategy is underway based on this much deeper understanding of identity-based needs. And it grew out of empathy.

Empathy (like immersion) is one of those research terms that is over-used, yet under-leveraged. It’s full meaning is deep and inspiring:

  • The vicarious experiencing of the thoughts, feelings or attitudes of another
  • The power of entering into another’s personality and imaginatively experiencing his or her feelings
  • A deep emotional understanding of someone’s problems
  • The attribution of one’s own feelings to another

Notice that empathy includes not just understanding, but caring. It’s not about observation, it’s about personal engagement. This is the basis of all successful relationships, and it requires genuine effort.

It’s a conscious endeavor to feel the feelings of someone else. Not to observe but to merge. Step out of your own shoes and become another. Realize that your perspective doesn’t matter right now. And it’s challenging. But the onus is on us to hear with open ears…and hearts. The results are likely to surprise you!


Highlights from the Greenbook/ARF Webinar: Predicting Election 2016 – What Worked, What didn’t and the Implications for Marketing & Insights

On November 29, The ARF and GreenBook brought together leading lights in the polling and broader market research world to start examining what went wrong in the 2016 Election and what needs to be changed in the future.



Editor’s Note: Last week’s “pop-up event” that we put on with our friends at the ARF generated a ton of interest, and rightfully so: the election results and the narrative around polling misses leading up to it has thrust research front and center into the national spotlight, and not in a good way. The potential blowback on commercial research, especially survey-based research, has already begun and it’s imperative that we as an industry get ahead of the story and show the great work our industry does. It’s also an opportunity for commercial research to help our colleagues in political and public opinion research learn that the researcher toolbox consists of many tools that can deliver greater nuance, depth and accuracy to the good work they do.

That is why we’re devoting two days of coverage to the event, starting with yesterday’s post by Tony Jarvis and wrapping up with today’s review by Jeni Lee Chapman and Larry Friedman. This is the start of an ongoing dialogue and we think the industry as a whole needs to be kept fully in the loop on our efforts to move this forward.

If you weren’t able to join the webcast of the event, you can watch the entire thing here.


By Jeni Lee Chapman &  Larry Friedman, Ph.D

Right before the election, all (or nearly all) of the leading polling organizations predicted that Hillary Clinton would defeat Donald Trump, with the likelihood of victory being anywhere from 70-99%.  The primal scream of pain from the industry since those predictions were proved false is still resonating, and will likely do so for quite some time.

The post-mortems have begun, and ARF and Greenbook should be commended for producing a program on Nov. 29 in NYC with leading lights in the polling and broader market research world to start examining what went wrong, what it might mean for market research more generally, and what needs to be changed for the future.

The session was in two parts.  The first part featured brief individual presentations from market researchers who argued that combining the survey polling data with other kinds of data showed that Trump was actually in better position than polls alone indicated.  The argument is similar to what many in the broader industry have been arguing for some time now, that traditional survey research by itself isn’t enough, and other kinds of data need to be used as well. This is a theme that runs through conferences like IIeX.

Ironically enough, a key theme that went through these presentations was that the old Bill Clinton phrase, “It’s the economy stupid”, was one of the key factors that played a role in Hillary’s losing bid for the presidency.

Jared Schreiber – Co-Founder & CEO from InfoScout shared data that combined attitudinal data with actual behavioral/ consumption data that they track from the same people. These data showed Trump voters and Undecided’s responded at much higher rates than Clinton voters that ” they were spending more on groceries in the last 6 months” even though they had actual shopping data that showed grocery spending on groceries had actually dropped 6%. This finding would suggest that Undecideds shared the same economic anxieties as Trump voters, and were more likely to break Trump’s way when it came to actually voting – which it seems they did.

InfoScout key takeaways: Lessons polling companies and campaigns can learn through the examination of shopping data linked to attitudes  

  • market to the masses not only your base.
  • brand distinctiveness – stand clearly for something. This came up in Tom Anderson’s presentation where he shared data collected from an open-ended question and used text analytics to analyze the data. The results showing what key issues and traits where associated with each candidate. This analysis revealed Trump’s stronger association with economic based issues and clearer positioning among both urban and rural voters.  The article and data was shared in an earlier Wonk / Greenbook post.
  • Grab attention and get noticed: Much data has been shared that through Trump’s use of Twitter and his direct media strategy, he controlled the conversation and was mentioned much more often that Hilary Clinton. He defined what were the issues of the campaign.

Aaron Reid from Sentient Decision Science shared how the use of different techniques that get at implicit attitudes can get you closer to what people will actually do versus just knowing what they say they will do. In the Wisconsin primaries in particular, there was a huge gap between those that said they would vote for Clinton, but then did not.

Tom Anderson from Odin Analytics showed the insight powerhouse one single question can deliver when text analytics are applied to open ended questions.  He looked at not only what was said about each candidate but also how long it took respondents to write in their responses about each candidate. Tom made the case that text analytics could help solve the issue of non-response bias given that with this approach you are able to look at large sample sizes  from rural and non-rural areas, and identify people’s real voter intentions through their unfiltered responses to open ended questions.

Taylor Schreiner – VP, Research, from TubeMogul, which focuses on programmatic buying, shared the benefits of testing in real time and that with Facebook for example, you can do a whole series of a/b tests to determine what content strategies are working.

Main Takeaways – Panel Discussion

Chris Bacon from the ARF did a wonderful job moderating the panel. But regardless of moderating talents. it was hard not to feel the pain on stage.  At some moments defensive “I was the only one to get it right”  as Raghavan Mayur, President of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence stated and at other moments confessional as Gary Langer, former Director of Polling ABC News read out a detailed explanation of all the value the polls did provide. The panel session ultimately highlighted a number of important points about the future of Presidential election polling and its role in predicting results.  In a moment almost reminiscent of the Nixon/Frost interviews after Watergate, it wasn’t until nearly the very end of the session when Cliff Young, President of Ipsos public affairs was the first panelist brave enough to flat out say “We got it wrong”.

So what are the polling firms thinking about doing differently?

  • De-emphasizing the national horse race numbers. For the second time since 2000, the winner of the national popular vote did not win the Electoral College.  The media needs to place much more emphasis on understanding individual battleground states before making pronouncements about who is ahead during the campaign.  Further as Gary Langer argued, so much of the value of survey research is understanding what is behind voters’ choices.
  • Cliff Young from Ipsos made some great points about the need to improve predictive voter turnout models. Presidential elections are unique in that they happen only once in four years and only something like 50-60% of eligible voters actually turn out.  You never know who is actually coming out until they do.  If your assumptions about the composition of the turnout is different from actual (as seems to have happened this year), your “final” poll numbers will be off.  As discussed in the panel, perhaps incorporating surrogate measures of candidate “enthusiasm” and “inspiration” would improve the models.
  • Research Now’s Melanie Courtright – EVP, Global Client Services, made the important point that it all starts with the right sample frame and sample design. If you are going to predict elections, state level data critical and within state, you need to get a proper representation of the populations there – including rural areas, minority communities etc. Given that these groups tend to not do phone or even on-line surveys, she encouraged the polling companies to really start planning and implementing multi-mode techniques to achieve solid sample sizes that represent the correct sample frame for that state and those counties within a state. This discussion linked to the points around the impact of non-response rates – when you get 90% non-response from a sample frame, those that don’t answer become more interesting than those that do answer the survey.
  • From inside the Trump campaign, Matthew Oczkowski – Head of Product, Cambridge Analytics, shared that they have access to so much more data than outside pollsters do. The key takeaway shared is that for each candidate they work with, they always build the model from scratch. Their job is to get candidates elected and you cannot rely on what happened last time around as each candidate brings unique qualities to the election process. Trump is nothing if not unique.

Great session; some spirited discussion but overall an opportunity for knowledge sharing that was thoughtful and productive. No doubt there will be other such sessions in the coming months.  Academic political scientists, once they get a chance to really dig into the data, will be able to make valuable contributions – how about the companies who presented and on the panel making their data available to a consortium of academics?  The issues are too important for proprietary reasons to get in the way.


Larry Friedman, Ph.D. – Senior Advisor, Larry Friedman Market Research Advisory Services, LLC

Dr. Friedman has had a 35-year career in market research, working on both the client and supplier sides of the business.  He spent the last 25 years of his career at TNS (and various predecessor companies) in various positions before retiring in 2015, including Global Head of Brand and Communications Research and Chief Research Officer for North America.   He has led large divisions with P&L responsibility, developed a number of cutting edge techniques, and has consulted widely with senior level marketing executives on the strategic business implications of market research, which he still continues to do.  He has published widely, and has spoken before many leading industry conferences.  He holds a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Columbia University.

Jeni Lee Chapman

Jeni Lee Chapman is a veteran executive in the  brand research and PR / communications area having worked, along with her phenomenal team,  building businesses in the syndicated and custom brand and research space. Jeni spent over a decade at Kantar, first at NFO and then leading the Brand and Communications’ practice at TNS where she established an early stage framework for the creation of a cross media measurement platform. Most recently, Jeni managed the US business for a global media intelligence, SasS based firm and was part of the executive team that took it to a successful sale. She started her career in Madrid, Spain – heading up the international practice of the leading market research and polling company in Spain – Demoscopia. One of her claims to fame is having run with the bulls  – not by choice – in a small town in Spain!

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Debrief on Predicting Election 2016: What Worked, What Didn’t and the Implications for Marketing & Insights

Tony Jarvis reviews the seminal ARF/GreenBook Sponsored Forum on the implications of the leanings from the election polling for research, held in NYC on November 29



By Tony Jarvis: 

“We got it wrong.” Cliff Young, President Ipsos Public Affairs; “I respectfully disagree!” Raghavan Mayur, TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence (The IBD/TIPP Poll).  These were just two deductions from a 2 hour forum involving a blue ribbon group of researchers evaluating Election Polling in the most disruptive election in the US in recent history (Clue???)

Four (4) insightful and thought-provoking formal presentations from 4 commercial research companies set the scene for an even more diverse discussion by an expert panel on the merits and/or failings of the surveys, the resulting data quality, the subsequent predictive modeling and the implications for product and brand research.  The producer of the event, Lenny Murphy – Executive Editor & Producer, GreenBook challenged the presenters to take a hard look at improving predictive accuracy.

These presentations were delivered in webinar format and moderated by Dana Stanley, Director of Operations for GreenBook (and a former pollster himself) and focused on alternative approaches to survey based polling.

Jared Schreiber – Co-Founder & CEO, Infoscout focused on the critical importance of the undecideds (~14%) who were primarily “economy” driven and who chose Trump by a wide margin (~50% – ~38%) according to a massive exit poll.  Research has consistently demonstrated that for many product users as well as voters false pessimism exists which often confounds an expected result (or vote).  This was clearly a factor in the final Election results.

Dr. Aaron Reid – Founder and Chief Behavioral Scientist, Sentient Decision Science, Inc. reminded that Pollsters cannot rely heavily on what people say to truly understand how they feel and consequently what they will do.  He suggested that traditional research methods are no longer at the level of predictability that is required especially when there is an accentuated “social desirability” factor in a fractious political campaign.  Sentinent did examine the differences between Hillary Clinton, HRC, and Trump in the swing states in relation to “what they said” (pre-election) versus “what they did” (post – vote).  This underlined the classic respondent “lying factor” which pervades all research to various degrees.  Research during the primaries showed that Bernie Sanders earned “conviction” and “genuine” attributes among conservative voters raising the question could Bernie have captured many more disaffected Republicans?

Tom Anderson – Founder, OdinText, whose company uses unaided text analytics to understand messaging, suggested that this method is a key to making “better” predications compared to the difficulty for structured surveys to predict actual behaviour in view of “social desirability” responses.  His company identified that HRC was in trouble when evaluating the major differences on candidate attributes and their issues as well as a potential turn-out and rural versus urban issues.  Similar to some other research, Trump showed more consistent messaging and more resonance among those surveyed.

Taylor Schreiner – VP, Research, TubeMogul posed, “Why Nate Silver’s Problems are Advertisers’ Problems.”  (Nate Silver, master poll interpreter, founder and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight).  The fundamental questions Taylor raised:

  • What do the confidence intervals offered really mean? To which could be added, did they actually have any mathematical foundation? (Rhetorical question!)
  • Which polls/predictive models are better? (Notably in an Electoral College environment when most were wrong!)
  • Causality – events will always have a sales effect. How were they included in the polling models?  g. The importance of including the weather as a variable in predicting consumption of soup.
  • Importance of repeated tactics trials. Systematic repetition and variation of marketing dimensions to show what works – conversions or sales and what does not.
  • Expense of precision that is never that precise. “Precision is not free.”

The panel that followed was live at ARF headquarters while still being a webcast for the hundreds of virtual attendees.  It was moderated by Chris Bacon – EVP, Research & Innovation: Global Research, Quality & Innovation, The ARF and the audience participation added significant dimensions to the presentations.

Gary Langer – President, Langer Research Associates and former Director of Polling, ABC News noted several fundamental principles and issues including:

  • Polling – it’s an estimate!
  • ABC never had a “leader” within the sampling error or design effects and ultimately predicted a Trump win.
  • Likely Electoral College results are derived by predictionalists not pollsters!
  • The universe of actual voters is unknown unlike universes for many products and services.
  • Clinton did win the popular vote by ~2%.
  • The vast share of the public thinks the country is broken.
  • There were many gaps across geo-demography’s of samples affecting representativeness.

Raghavan Mayur – President of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence (The IBD/TIPP Poll) emphasized the myth of looking at poll averages – The Brexit case!  He also reminded that bad data cannot overcome great analytics and a possible democratic bias of those executing the polls.  In the end he suggested that Trump’s win was primarily driven by the “enthusiasm” of both Republicans and independents versus HRC’s “lack of inspiration”.  Raghavan did believe there was value in perspectives from 2004, 2008 & 2012 unlike many of the panelists.

Cliff Young – President, Ipsos Public Affairs opined that limited resources needed to be focused on the battleground States; and that ultimately turn-out measurement and models were as important as for voter intentions.  “Were we using a hammer when a screwdriver was needed?” he asked in relation to using the right research tools.

Matthew Oczkowski – Head of Product, Cambridge Analytics, the analytical team for the Trump campaign echoed the vital importance of turn-out modelling in swing States.  He mentioned that internally they had run thousands of highly localized surveys, while also synthesizing that data with social media analytics and other data analytics to create highly targeted models at the MSA level that allowed them to focus on delivering the right message to the right person at the right time (sound familiar marketers?) and thus drive voters to the polls where they needed them in critical swing states and the “flips” of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Rick Bruner – VP, Research & Analytics, Viant Inc. emphasized the huge challenge in “getting it right” especially when 2016 was so different from the past which is traditionally used as part of predictions for the future.

Melanie Courtright – EVP, Global Client Services, Research Now, strongly pointed out that samples suffer from both sampling error and non-sampling error.  With representative probability samples virtually impossible to achieve, notably on-line, such surveys report completion rates not response rates – another fundamental issue.  For an Election poll knowing the critical dimensions needed for a representative sample is extremely difficult and are likely well beyond geo-demographics.

The value and importance of combining different data streams (qualitative & quantitative), implicit models and methods as a “hybrid” approach to better predictions for future election polling was generally agreed.  However there is a need to establish best practices in each element of the art of polling.  Establishing representative probability samples based on all the key respondent attributes for an election (very tough) and measuring response rates (versus co-operation rates from non-rep samples) were also highlighted as a meaningful way to understand the real range of error and achieve quality data.

Conclusion?  There was certainly confusion in the marketplace regarding the result of two potentially different outcomes – The Electoral College (State by State) versus the overall popular vote.  Is it unrealistic to expect pin-point accuracy for an Election poll or prediction?  Clearly there was a cacophony of compounding complex factors and errors.  Most polls indicated that there was going to be ~2% difference with most in the wrong direction.

Stay tuned for 2020!!

Editor’s Note: Want to watch the whole event online? Here you go!

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#IIeX Nonconscious Forum 2016: Politics, Emotion, and Technology

This year's IIeX Nonconscious Forums event was a 2-day jam-packed exploration of implicit measures and behavioral economics in the Consumer Neuroscience space.

Many of the talks touched either directly or indirectly on the surprise election of Donald Trump. Hosts Alex Hunt, President of Brainjucier, and Will Leach, Founder of TriggerPoint, both pointed to this election result as a call to action for those in the neuromarketing field—the polls got it wrong, and the need for implicit measures of voter preference has never been so clear.  We need to more accurately predict what people will actually do in the voting booth, not just record what they say they will do. This is a classic example of the divergence between explicit and implicit measures.

Kevin Keane, Co-Founder & CEO of Brainsights in Toronto, gave an election-related talk describing measures of voter brain activity during the final debate. They used EEG-measures of attention, emotional connection, and encoding to memory to quantify the persuasiveness of each candidate. Based on these measures, Trump had more moments of high persuasion, especially at the end when critical final impressions are formed.

Andrew Konya, Co-Founder and CEO of Remesh Inc. gave an impressive talk on machine learning measures of natural language related to the election. He explained how his team used machine learning to create a 300-dimensional concept space to parse the natural language of 1 billion Goggle News articles. Once this feat was accomplished, they fed the output into a neural network and trained it to detect key attributes. The result? They created a means to rapidly capture, code, and organize opinions of respondents participating in online, open-ended natural language conversations. When they applied this technology to conversations about the election, they showed that participants rated Trump substantially higher than Clinton for authenticity because of his “blunt honest” style. Powerful stuff.

John Kenny, from FCB, talked about the evolution of Behavioral Economics and Marketing. His presentation was a good primer for anyone interested in understanding what Behavioral Economics is all about, and he also recommended a number of helpful books on the subject.

Dr. Andrew Baron, Associate Professor of Psychology at UBC and advisor to Olson Zaltman, offered up a generous helping of skepticism regarding neuromarketing claims, and used his expertise in crafting IATs (Implicit Association Tests) to remind everyone present about the importance of implementing this test correctly.

LRW’s Dr. Collette Eccleston gave an interesting talk that spoke to how our world has become more complicated, even as our brains have basically stayed the same, with a focus on the essential human needs of Belonging, Appeal, Security, and Exploration.

Rod Connors, Co-Founder of System1 Creative Agency, gave a memorable talk on creating powerful ads that impact people at a System 1 level. He showed examples of video ads that forgo attempts to make claims or highlight the benefits of a product, and instead go for a gut-level emotional reaction. He also made suggestions for changing how creative briefs are developed, to focus more on the raw emotionality that impacts System 1 processing the most.

Dan Morris, President of PreTesting Group, gave an interesting talk where he showed videos demonstrating the use of saccadic technology, which measures vibrations in saccades to not only show where people are looking, but also measure their level of engagement. His co-presenter Nikkia Reveillac from Colgate-Palmolive went on to demonstrate how the technology revealed the negative impact that “visual vampires” can have, e.g., an ad featuring celebrity Kelly Ripa actually drew the focus away from the Colgate brand, reducing its overall effectiveness. Once these effects are measured, they can be easily remedied with improved brand placement.

Drs. Aaron Reid & Kristina Zosul of Sentient gave a stimulating presentation on their use of Sentient’s trademark primed-IAT to measure how Smirnoff’s famous “Deaf Dancer” video ad can shift brand preference, at least in the short term. This was followed by Elissa Moses from Ipsos, who explained how giving shoppers a flower can have a positive impact on their mood and enhance their shopping experience.

I enjoyed LRW’s Jason Brooks presentation on the use of virtual reality. He showed some exciting new applications of VR technology, including the use of VR to reduce stress for hospital patients recovering from surgery. Instead of lying on a stiff bed in a sterile hospital environment, they could experience relaxing on a beach by a virtual ocean. Similarly, he explained how VR was being used to address the issue of racial bias among police, including the ability to give a white police officer the experience of being a black man being pulled over by the law. It seemed a bit of a stretch to believe that VR could be so powerful, but I soon became converted once I tested out the VR headsets that LRW had on-hand at their booth. Now it seems clear to me that VR technology has the potential to radically impact our society, including teaching empathy through direct experience, and many more as-yet unexplored implementations.

Another notable talk was given by Mikey Renan, the Head of Business Operations at Sense360. Do you use Location Services on your smart phone? If you do, then you might be an unwitting participant in one of their studies that use anonymized location services data. He shared an example of a study they did for Home Depot which analyzed location services data to identify building contractors (defined as anyone who visited a hardware store multiple times per week) and determine how proximity to a hardware store influenced the choice of which store to visit. Bottom line: contractors were willing to drive farther to go to Home Depot instead of Lowes.

In addition to these individual presentations, there were several client-side panels, including one hosted by Merchant Mechanics CEO Matthew Tullman, and featuring Gretchen Gscheidle of Herman Miller, Douglas Healy of PepsiCo, and Rosie Balk of Balk Group LLC. Their wide-ranging discussion delved into several relevant themes for the supplier-side, including the need to demonstrate how work will provide something better than what has come before. All in all, it was a productive two days featuring some of the best-of-the-best in the Consumer Neuroscience space. I enjoyed meeting other people in the field and also learned a lot from both the presentations and the informal conversations that took place. Are you interested in diving into the neuromarketing space? Then meet me at next year’s Insight Innovation Exchange Forums.

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Recent Trends in Millennial Insights

Highlights from GutCheck's research into Millennials, and what that research means for the future of not only market research but product innovation, product development, and marketing at large.


By The GutCheck Team

We’ve all learned a lot about Millennials in the past few months. From their hard-to-predict voting behavior to their questionable-at-best survival skills, the power of Millennials to take center stage and influence the world cannot be ignored. So we decided to take a closer look at this desirable target audience, compiling all the consumer insights and implications from our recent research to build an actionable persona. Below are the highlights from all we learned about Millennials, and what it means for the future of not only market research but product innovation, product development, and marketing at large.

Millennials Want Straightforward Social Media That Connects and Informs Them

In an exploratory study of what features matter most to both Millennials and teenagers (aka, Gen Z) when it comes to social media platforms, we discovered that both groups have replaced other media and communications tools with social media for the convenience and personalization it offers. Millennials were particularly focused on the convenience, expressing a desire for simple, straightforward apps, which they don’t have to spend time learning.

“I like to use social media to connect with others, and learn new things. Social media helps me stay current with things going on in the world, and see how other people view the world.” – 29, Male, Ohio

Millennials use social media on the go, in between other activities, and during downtime, so apps should be designed for short bursts of activity, with flexible content experiences conducive to both multi-tasking and in-depth consumption (like Apple’s News app). For some visuals on how teens and Millennials prioritize social features, check out the report summary here.

But They Don’t Appreciate Ads and Glitches in Their Apps

Our discoveries got us wondering: what keeps an app on Millennials’ and teens’ phones for the long run? Pokémon Go proved that it’s still possible to immediately capitalize on technological innovation and established appeal; but its swift decline means that it takes more than hype to maintain users’ interests. Not surprisingly, the apps that earn a lasting place in the lives of Millennials are those that are easy to use, streamline daily routines, and make their lives easier: the universality of Facebook and the organization of Pinterest were highly celebrated, and a desire for more apps that would help increase productivity was expressed repeatedly.

“I guess I’m kind of a forgetful person, so an app to turn up my air conditioning or down the heat, or turn off the lights, fans, TV, etc., would be very helpful in my daily life.”

– Female, 34, iPhone user, Frequent in-app purchases

But the crucial factors when it comes to loving an app are the presentation of ads and the efficacy of the app. Apps that are complicated, have technical bugs and crashes, or use too many of their phone’s resources are often targeted for deletion. And even though intrusive ads annoy Millennials, very few would pay to remove them, opting to just delete the app entirely. To learn more about what apps Millennials prefer, including screenshots of the most-used and suggestions for new ones, read the report summary here.

Millennials Want Freshness They Can See at Quick-Serve Restaurants

With Americans spending more on dining out than they do on groceries, it’s no surprise that teens and Millennials are frequenting quick-service restaurants (QSRs) more than ever. In order to help QSRs capitalize on this trend, we sought to better understand current impressions and behaviors surrounding their business, as well as what conveys quality to their young customers. Turns out that taste, location, and price drive most Millennials in their QSR choice, prioritizing cravings and freshness over overtly healthy options. Since it ranked so highly, we further investigated Millennial and Gen Z perceptions of freshness, revealing that in-view prep and ingredients that resemble what’s found in nature are what connote freshness.

Millennials were also sensitive to messaging that helps contribute to perceptions of freshness, including terms like “crisp” and “just picked,” and they were particularly appreciative of a clean, friendly atmosphere. It’s a fine line QSRs have to tread between speed and quality, but making freshness visible to consumers will help QSRs, including chains, go far with Millennials. As part of this research, we asked Millennials and teens to tell us which meals they eat at QSRs most often for, as well as how they’d rank some well-known QSRs. Read the full report here.

And They’re Looking for a Secure, Convenient Experience from Banks

Digital banking is already a part of consumers’ lives, with many relying on such services to track day-to-day account activity, read statements, and manage payments. But banks looking to expand into more advanced digital services, like mortgages and wealth management, must consider how they would be received by customers that span multiple generations. And when we asked both Millennials (ages 21-34) and non-Millennials (ages 35-55) if they’d be open to conducting these more involved banking processes online, Millennials were receptive, but concerned. Fraud and potential for security breaches were their main barriers to adoption, but many also lamented the personalized assistance and advice that digital banking lacks.

But overall, the convenience and accessibility of digital banking is enough to interest Millennials in more advanced services, citing the pushy sales techniques and long waits of in-person banking as particularly frustrating: they just want more customer service and data security. To learn more about the differences in banking habits of both Millennials and non-Millennials, access our results from a quantitative Agile Attitudes & UsageTM study here.

Though they often get a bad rap among marketers, Millennials aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Benchmarking your perceptions and taking note of consumer trends will help give you the advantage necessary to understand this ever-evolving segment. And if you’re planning to conduct a study targeting Millennials and considering incorporating mobile market research methods, check out our eGuide on best practices when conducting mobile research.


Marketing Research Methods: Shhhh! Just Listen…

Brands must be good listeners if they are to convincingly play a key role in helping people express who they are.


By Saul Hopper

As a practicing clinical psychologist/psychoanalyst in the world of marketing research, I’ve come to realize that I listen differently from most consumer insights researchers. As a therapist, I listen on several levels at once and monitor my own thoughts, feelings, and memories. I observe body language, both that of the speaker and my own. I follow my free-associations to words and images and what I am feeling and daydreaming about as I listen becomes part of the data I analyze and interpret. I listen to my own inner chatter and use it to formulate strategic hypotheses as the interview continues.

The chatter might consist of snippets of songs, phrases, and childhood memories in a flashing image. Yet while I attend to the chatter, I also know that to really listen to another person I have to suspend my own self-interests. I have to open my heart as well as my ears to the uniqueness of the human being I am trying to connect with empathically. Deep empathic listening is a full body experience! It is not a passive activity. We have to deliberately and patiently suppress our own judgments and reactions. As we listen empathically we begin to comprehend the underlying motivations, the internal emotional conflicts, the surrounding relationships, the cultural context and the individual’s personal history.

We listen for what is said, but also what is not said but which begins to be very loud in its silence. We begin to hear more deeply and more broadly, beyond just the spoken words of the individual. We listen for all the stories… the common themes, yes, but also for the story that reveals the individual’s “narrative identity.” We all conceive of who we are through the construction of compelling and coherent personal narratives and our own mythologies. With active, empathic listening we accept the responsibility of taking on the speaker’s need to be heard and understood, especially the need to have one’s identity affirmed. People can feel how they are listened to and, when they feel understood, they reveal more of what is most true for them and closest to their hearts.

Why is this important in marketing? Brands must be good listeners if they are to convincingly play a key role in helping people express who they are. Feeling understood is a vital human experience and is profoundly emotionally satisfying. When we feel a brand “gets us” and can help us tell the world who we are, our narrative identity is bolstered and we are grateful. We incorporate that brand into our lives and we talk about it like it is a member of our inner circle. Indeed we have a personal relationship with it.

Remember, a good listener makes you feel understood and invites you to say more. A good brand helps you say it.


NYAMA/BrandSpark Survey: Marketers Focusing on Mobile and Consumer-Generated Content Strategies into 2017

Some 50 percent of Marketers Have More Than 30 Percent of Media Budget Assigned to Digital Initiatives



The New York American Marketing Association  (NYAMA) and BrandSpark today announced in conjunction with Dapresy, a global provider of data visualization and data integration software, that the results of the first annual NYAMA/BrandSpark American Marketers Survey are available online here.

The survey captures the views of more than 650 marketers across the United States, representing a range of major industries. Marketers shared their overall strategy, key tactics, challenges, successes, media spend intentions and ROI perceptions.

According to the report, researchers expect to see marketers make big investments in technologies to improve mobile marketing effectiveness and consumer-generated content strategies over the next six to 12 months.

“Respondents believe that marketing is more important than ever before, and adopting new technologies effectively is a must to stay competitive,” said Lukas Pospichal, managing director, GreenBook & New York AMA. “Mobile marketing was selected as the trend that will have the biggest impact on marketing in the next 12 months (and 10 years), though only 41 percent have a mobile strategy in place; another 30 percent are planning to implement within the next year.”

Robert Levy, president, BrandSpark International, added:

“Similarly, just over 30 percent indicated they had a strategy on consumer-generated content or influencer marketing, but just as many are planning to implement one in the coming year. As they do so, they should be cognizant of the fact that while most organizations rely solely on consumer-generated content from social media or contests and promotions, only a small percentage indicate their initiatives are very successful. The highest success rates were cited when marketers cite multiple sources for generating consumers review and other content.”

Content marketing/branded content, data management & analytics and online video are the other marketing areas expected to see the greatest growth as strategies implemented (or firmed up) in the coming year. That is, if marketers can overcome the biggest challenge cited to implementation plans: a lack of resources available to make the shift.

Accurately measuring ROI, as always, remains a critical challenge for marketers. However, they are increasing spend on channels they perceive to offer the highest ROI. These include CRM/email marketing and social network advertising. Online video is also on the rise, but interestingly has approximately the same perceived ROI as broadcast television.

Respondents said the biggest likelihood to cut back on spending is print marketing (newspapers, flyers and magazines), OOH advertising, and radio, in large part because these channels have accounted for a large portion of budget and marketers are looking for money to fund the digital initiatives that are becoming a greater part of their overall mix.

Other key findings of the study include:

  • The top tactical tool to implement in the coming year is marketing technology software, with about 50 percent planning to implement.
  • Among the seven in 10 marketers with a digital strategy in place, half have more than 30 percent of their media budget assigned to digital initiatives, while a quarter have more than 50 percent.
  • More than 50 percent of marketers with a content marketing strategy have a dedicated staff to manage and produce content.
  • Advanced marketing analytics and the emergence of Millennials are expected to have almost as much impact as mobile over the next 10 years. These Millennials are driving an increasing demand for personalization.

Findings available online via Dapresy dashboard

“We are excited to make the results of this important study available to everyone,” said Rudy Nadilo, president North America, Dapresy, via a Dapresy online dashboard here.

About Dapresy (

Dapresy is a global provider of data visualization and reporting software. Unlike traditional business intelligence tools that focus on deep-dive analysis for a limited audience, Dapresy visualizes and distributes data into existing company processes for all designated people. It enables clients to deploy dynamic KPI-driven marketing dashboards to clearly communicate complex data from markets, users and customers. The company’s unique dynamic dashboards are individually tailored, deploying the right data to the right people at the right time. For marketers looking to move beyond PowerPoint and Excel, Dapresy is the faster and far more effective way to easily present marketing information from multiple sources in a manner that improves decision making.

Twitter: @Dapresy

About NYAMA (

The New York American Marketing Association (NYAMA) is an organization that inspires, supports and celebrates brilliance in marketing.  Founded in 1931, the NYAMA is the principal community for marketing professionals across all industries and disciplines in the New York area. Offering programs, monthly events, and interaction with the chapter through volunteer activities, we provide marketers with an opportunity to increase their knowledge and reach in the marketing community. We also serve as a resource for all marketing events, activities and news in the New York and surrounding areas.

About BrandSpark International (

BrandSpark International is a leading brand, marketing and product innovation research company. With deep expertise in consumer packaged goods, BrandSpark has a global perspective on what drives innovation unlike any other research company. We understand the insights and content that brands need to launch and support new products. BrandSpark runs North America’s most credible consumer voted awards program for new products, the Best New Product Awards, and generates new product reviews, certified claims and insights through its new shopper engagement platform, Shopper Army.


Transhumanism and MR

Technical innovation has been transforming MR. But what if, one day, it also transforms the human race?


By Kevin Gray

The first time I heard of Transhumanism it struck me as the product of too much coffee, too little sleep and far too much Star Trek.  I still catch myself searching for The Onion logo when I spot a reference to it.  After all, AI and robotics have yet to live up to their hype and even the cure for the common cold remains elusive.

Nonetheless, much of what we take for granted today was once undreamed of or deemed impossible.  Heavier-than-air flight was scoffed at and “computer” was an occupational designation for humans. It seems like just the other day when we heard the iPhone would never sell…So while on the surface Transhumanism seems a bit far-fetched, I thought I’d take a closer look.

But first, what is it?  According to Wikipedia:

Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international and intellectual movement that aims to transform the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human limitations, as well as the ethics of using such technologies. The most common transhumanist thesis is that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into different beings with abilities so greatly expanded from the natural condition as to merit the label of posthuman beings.

Transhumanism comes in assorted flavors.  Again, from Wikipedia:

  • Democratic transhumanism, a political ideology synthesizing liberal democracy, social democracy, radical democracy and transhumanism.
  • Extropianism, an early school of transhumanist thought characterized by a set of principles advocating a proactive approach to human evolution.
  • Immortalism, a moral ideology based upon the belief that radical life extension and technological immortality is possible and desirable, and advocating research and development to ensure its realization.
  • Libertarian transhumanism, a political ideology synthesizing libertarianism and transhumanism.
  • Postgenderism, a social philosophy which seeks the voluntary elimination of gender in the human species through the application of advanced biotechnology and assisted reproductive technologies.
  • Singularitarianism, a moral ideology based upon the belief that a technological singularity is possible, and advocating deliberate action to effect it and ensure its safety.
  • Technogaianism, an ecological ideology based upon the belief that emerging technologies can help restore Earth’s environment and that developing safe, clean, alternative technology should therefore be an important goal of environmentalists.

Imagine an ad suddenly popping up inside your head for a seminar on Posthuman Marketing?  But maybe there would be no need for seminars – or marketing itself – in that sort of world.  Imagine that our minds, memories and personalities one day are uploaded into a cloud of some sort…well it’s hard to imagine. The road to Posthumanism would surely be very jarring for the human race.

I have no technical or philosophical competence to comment in detail regarding the feasibility or potential consequences of Transhumanism or Posthumanism. However, I feel it’s something we should be thinking about because at least some of these dreams (nightmares?) may become reality in the not-too-distant future.

FYI, here are a few sources I dug up in my brief look into this fascinating yet disturbing subject:

Eat, Drink, and be Merry, for tomorrow…???


Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Leonard Murphy Thursday, November 24, 2016, 6:00 am
Posted in category General Information
Happy Thanksgiving to our friends in the US! We will be back next week with great new content!