27 October 2010

Back From BrandFestival 2010

Back From BrandFestival 2010: "

Interview with Marketing Media

I just got back from BrandFestival 2010 in Budapest where I spoke on Text Analytics and ‘Next Gen’ research overall. The event theme was the New Economy including Green Marketing, but a variety of other innovations in marketing and branding were also featured. It was a great event and venue in a wonderful city. I took a few pictures of the confernce and city, but haven’t had a chance to download them yet. Fortunately the organizers of BrandFestival were good enough to send a few shots (see bottom of post).

It was interesting to learn how important TV currently is as a media vehicle locally, and how social media adoption has probably been a bit slower than I had thought. However, it is clearly growing in importance. While local SNS like Wiwi are more popular in Hungary, Facebook is catching on quickly (Not surprisingly, Twitter seems to lag).

BrandFestival and one of the foremost marketing publications in Hungary (Marketing Media) interviewed me for an article. I thought the quesitons they asked were really great, so posting a couple of their questions and images below.

Q. You have been working with several reputable research companies - TNS, NFO Wordwide, and AC Nielsen BASES - before you started your own company. Whi did you start Anderson Analytics?

A. While in graduate school I got really interested in data mining, specifically text mining. Just before starting Anderson Analytics I was managing the Starwood Hotels account for TNS (the co. that owns Westin, Sheraton, W Hotels etc.). They received surveys from over a million guests each year, many had very important feedback in text format, yet almost nothing was being done with them. This wasn’t uncommon, no one in market research was using text analytics, so I saw the opportunity and started Anderson Analytics in 2005 to merge new techniques with traditional maket research. It wasn’t till 2007 when some of the other firms like Nielsen and TNS began trying text analytics to deal with social media monitoring.

Q. What innovative research products does the Anderson Analytics recommend for clients on the market beyond the traditional qualitative and quantitative methods?

A. Well we like to understand the clients problem first to see whether or not we have a tool that can help them. I don’t believe there are any products that can solve every need. Unfortunately, many suppliers don’t seem to share that view with me. Any good professional, no matter the industry, will need to select the correct tool or combination of tools first. Then knowing how to use them well comes into play. Currently there seems to be more toold than business issues.

Q. According to the present economic circumstances, is being supplied with the appropriate quantity and qualitiy of information truely a value-raising corporate activity?

A. Historically companies who spend on research in tough economic times seriously outperform their competitors when the economy gets better. When it comes to good market research, I believe everyone needs a certain level simply just so they don’t get left behind. But if you want to do better than others, and gain an information advantage, you need to do something more, something different.

Interestingly, I was participating in a market research conference last week here in the US (the AMA Annual Conference), and someone was presenting findings from a study among CMO’s and CEO’s. Both were asked what role maret research should play in their business. Interestingly CMO’s said “market research should provide incremental growth”, while CEO’s on the other hand said “market research should provide transformational growth!” Clearly there is a dissconnect in marketing and market research currently, and it’s not all about the economy. There are opportunities out there for those who use intelligence better than their competitors. Arguably, it’s far more important in tough economic times.

Q. It is an interesting paradox that one has to posess more and more information about the markets, competitors, brands, etc., howewer studies show that the companies spend less and less for this information. What is your professional experience about the research expences at firms?

A. I don’t think that’s true in total, though certainly that is the trend for individual pieces of insights. Do It Yourself (DIY) Research, and Knowledge Process Offshoring (KPO) for instance. I don’t really see either of these as competitors. As data continues to increase, seeing the important patterns will just become more difficult and important.

It used to be that CEO’s could manage based on gut instinct. After what has happened over the past ten years in the US, CEO’s and boards, or anyone who manages the monetary interests of shareholders or others has a serious obligation to use whatever means necessary to do what is in the best interest of those they hold this feducuiary responsibility to. So I see research only increasing in importance. Every year business schools are putting out graduates who are more and more comfortable with numbers. So I feel quite good about the future of analytics and the value that the C-Suite will put on it.

Q. It is becoming a more significant trend for brands to connect consumers with the use of the social media. How can the research profession keep track of this?

A. Marketing, especially among the Fortune 1000, have been relaively slow to take proper advantage of social media. In comparison, market research has actually been somewhat faster for once. However many of the ‘consultants’ out there are just winging it.

Just because there’s a new channel, and it may require new technology, that doesn’t mean you stop applying sound methodology. So I think the problem is not that it’s not being done, but that a lot of it is being done by people (software engineers or ‘consultants’) who don’t have a sound background in basic research methodology, and secondly that the Fortune 1000 have been so slow to ‘get it’. But these two things should sort themselves our naturally.

Q. Alex Bogusky, the co-founder of the Crispin Porter + Bogusky advertising agency, Steve Jobs the visionary leader of Apple, and Dietrich Mateschitz the founder of Red Bull. There is one common thing among them: being intuitive personalites they reject making decisions based on research results. What do you think about this?

A. I think they are lying a little. Most marketing people like to claim/think they know everything. If they didn’t pay any attention to consumers they wouldn’t still be in business. But they certainly do go about things differently, and they are good at thinking like the customers. It’s partly company culture etc. at work here.

If Apple only listened to their engineers they would be more like Nokia. But Apple has hired a lot of designers and they are keen on “usability”. I have nwes for them, ‘Usability’ IS market research!

But I could probably name as many or more top firms where consumer insights and analytics are SUPER important (GE, Harrah’s etc.)

Q. On your blog (www.tomhcanderson.com) you interwiew world famous marketing professionals such as (Seth Godin, David M. Scott, Al Ries, Jack Trout) touching exciting marketing problems. What induces you to do this?

A. If you’re only listening to what people in your own profession or industry are saying you have very little or no chance in being better than them. I feel it’s extremely important to get this outside influence.

Many of the folks you mentioned come from marketing, and as you mentioned earlier, don’t think all too highly of us researchers. I like to find out why, and how we can do things better.

It’s been very rewarding, and I continue to meet more interesting people as a result.

Q. What do you think is the largest novelty in the world of marketingresearch currently?

A. In Market Research, well there are a few things. Neuroscience is very hot. Also as we discussed, Text Analytics continues to grow in importance, and I’m very happy Anderson Analytics was first in the amrket research space here, we contuinue to reap benefits as a result.

Social media is not really a technique/methodology though it is often discussed as one. In regard to social media, I believe both text mining and data mining will also continue to grow as a result.

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