Oct 22, 2012

Highlights from the 37th Annual CASRO Conference

Written by: Diane Wagner

RPA recently attended and exhibited at CASRO’s 37th Annual Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona (October 8 – 11, 2012). As members of CASRO, we attend this event every year.

First off, as usual for this conference, it was fantastic seeing a variety of C-suite executives and company heads from within the Market Research Industry – from companies such as Toluna, SSI, Paradigm Sample, Harris Interactive, Vision Critical (and many, many more).

Then, there was the gorgeous setting of the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale.  What’s not to love about the Four Seasons – frankly anywhere – let alone in such a beautiful setting, high in the Sonoran Desert?

Four Seasons Resort, Scottsdale, at Troon North

Equally stimulating were the sessions.  Below, we’ve summarized just three that stood out to us.

1.Shelley Zalis – Chief Executive Officer, Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange

A 20-year veteran of the Market Research industry, Shelley carries a big stick with any MR crowd – including the one at CASRO.  When she strongly admonished the audience for thinking that they understood social media (but really didn’t), you could hear a pin drop.  While Shelley’s a compelling speaker, it’s her passion for social media – and its implications for the industry – that’s truly riveting.

Of particular note, Shelley referenced Andrew Robertson from BBDO who compared learning social media with learning a new language – essentially, that there are 3 phases:
  1. I can understand you but I can’t talk (you can’t speak the language – for example: Spanish);
  2. I can understand you and I can talk (ex: you can now speak Spanish); and
  3. Oh my gosh!  I just had a dream in {Spanish}!  The trick, he believes, is to get everyone to dream in digital.

In Shelley’s mind, we’re still in phase 1 and need to get out – fast!

No doubt, Eric’s credentials (and credibility) is impressive – currently Vice-Dean and Director, Wharton Doctoral Programs, The K.P. Chao Professor, Professor of Marketing, Statistics and Education and Co-Director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  Whew – I’ve got to take a break after all that typing.

Sorry, I’m back.  Eric talked about “The Golden Age of Market Research is Now – And I’ve Only Said That to Myself 5 Times Over My Career”.  He covered the evolution of the MR Industry from the 1950s onward focusing on how each era seemed to be the Golden Age but wasn’t (including today).  In order to get to that truly Golden Age, he feels MR needs to do three key things:

  • Better incorporate the use of new technologies and  tools (including web scraping, user generated content, sentiment analysis) with traditional approaches;
  • Better converge data from multiple sources (big data and traditional data) – in real time – with more automation; and
  • Balance the need to leverage technologies for research with the need to protect privacy (to do that, Eric is focusing on data aggregation).

3. Carol Haney (VP, Global Product Marketing, Toluna) & Mihkel Jaatma (Founder/CEO, Realeyes)

Together, they presented a case study on a new method for copy testing using a tool to read emotional expressions from faces.  Based on the fact that only a tiny bit of human’s brains are actually conscious, Mihkel from Realeyes introduced a new tool for research which captures and analyzes facial expressions in real-time.  Their case study showed how ads from the London Olympics were tested by equating different facial expressions with various emotions such as “happy,” “angry,” and “surprised.”  This appears to be an innovational methodology that just may help the industry to consider neuroscience-related methods easier to understand and more within reach from a cost perspective. 

So, once again, a great, thought-provoking conference – and one which we look forward to attending next year without doubt.

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