Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Trapped in the Research Box

In our heads there's a dressing room where our concepts become clothed in words
- Ram Daas

For years national advertisers subscribed to a virtual dialog between themselves and their customers by letting consumers talk back at them through a third party. But the exchange is as contrived as the belief consumers have the time and interest to indulge advertisers with the full extent of their attentions.

The great lament about consumer research is that if you ask people in focus groups or surveys, they’ll tell you one thing and do another. Consumers are not blank slates. They bring a lifetime of associations and experiences to the judgments they pass. Their reactions are not always carefully thought out and consistent as they may feel they should be in a testing situation.

Consumers also discount an ad’s subliminal aspects in a research setting. This is as true for the traditional media they are sampling as it is with the traditional interview techniques they are subjected to -- phone surveys and even focus groups tap conscious verbal thoughts, not the involuntary responses.

We used to set our decision clocks to the study’s completion. The advertiser was handed the daunting choice of relenting to the research findings or going with their impulses. The web mocks the false choices posed by the research industry. What level of control does it really affords ad spenders? If the online findings are not the offline inclinations of the target audience, it’s only natural for clients too to discount the very research they’re funding. Only a visceral decision rings true.

Perception Measurement answers to both numerical validation and the emotions and meanings they stir. Perception Measurement is premised on the belief that respondents are likelier to become sensitized to a product if no one is directly selling it to them. It is their initiation that creates a sense of healthy curiosity and control – the two factors that drive “engagement” – the willing expenditure of attention.

Such factors as ad recall and media spending are routinely monitored and cross-referenced to establish a campaign’s effectiveness. Other market research firms measure the success of a product launch and changes in purchase patterns. But only in the uh-ohs ("00s") are we beginning to gauge their impact...

* on the public imagination,
* the imagery they create, or,
* the behaviors they inspire.

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About attentionSpin

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attentionSpin is a consulting practice formed in 1990 to create, automate and apply a universal scoring system (“The Biggest Picture”) to brands, celebrities, events and policy issues in the public eye. In the Biggest Picture, attentionSpin applies the principles of market research to the process of media analytics to score the volume and nature of media coverage. The explanatory power of this research model: 1. Allows practitioners to understand the requirements for managing the quality of attention they receive 2. Shows influencers the level of authority they hold in forums where companies, office-seekers, celebrities and experts sell their visions, opinions and skills 3. Creates meaningful standards for measuring the success and failure of campaigns and their connection to marketable assets.