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Namesake: The Next KPI?

Posted by Laura Blazej

Wed, Aug 16, 2017

Pharah II.jpg

When my fiancé and I adopted our first dog a few months ago, we wanted to name her something meaningful… something that we wouldn’t grow tired of saying over and over. We landed on “Pharah,” after the rocket-launcher-wielding, jetpack-flying, altogether-badass character from one our favorite video games, Overwatch. As a market researcher charged with measuring brand health and loyalty, I started to wonder what naming my new pup “Pharah” says about my relationship with Overwatch?

This is the kind of question we ask when we’re measuring brand health. To gauge the strength of the relationship between consumers and a particular brand, we look at metrics—called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)—to help indicate how a brand is doing. While namesake might not be a legitimate KPI (yet!), there are loads of others we measure in order to help our clients understand their brand health:

Unaided Awareness

  • Definition: The ability to recall a brand without help (This is different from Aided Awareness, which is the ability to recognize a listed brand)
  • Common question to gauge this metric: “Thinking about [industry], what brands come to mind?” (Respondent provides open ended answers)
  • Goal: Unaided awareness determines whether there is an existing relationship between the consumer and brand
  • Fit: Unaided awareness is a useful metric for smaller, newer, or regional brands who are working on improving their brand recognition. For example, the regional brand, University of Pittsburg Medical Center, would focus on unaided awareness, whereas the universal brand, Google, wouldn’t

Top of Mind Awareness

  • Definition: The first brand recalled without help in an open-end response
  • Common question wording: “Thinking about [industry], what brand first comes to mind?”
  • Goal: Top of mind awareness gauges either the most loved, the most hated, or the most prevalent brand to each consumer in any given industry
  • Fit: Useful for established brands who want to be first in consumers’ consideration set

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

  • Definition: The willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others. To calculate NPS score, we subtract the percentage of those unlikely to recommend the brand from the percentage of those likely to promote it
  • Common question wording: “How likely are you to recommend this brand to a friend or family member?”
  • Goal: This metric determines the magnitude and valence of the relationship between consumer and brand—that is, how strong or weak the relationship is (farther or closer to 0), and whether the relationship is positive or negative
  • Fit: NPS is useful to measure holistic loyalty since it accounts for both the high and low end of the scale in a single metric

Funnel/Pyramid Metrics

  • Definition: Often comprised of awareness, familiarity, favorability, preference, likelihood to purchase, and/or likelihood to recommend shown as descending or ascending bar lengths, forming a funnel or pyramid shape
  • Common question wording: Surveyed as a series of questions that touch on the aforementioned metrics
  • Goal: This metric focuses on the whole picture by following the entire journey to purchase/loyalty and the conversion ratios between each step
  • Fit: Useful as a big-picture approach to pinpoint where along the journey to focus marketing efforts

Preference

  • Definition: Likelihood to choose a brand over its competitors
  • Common question wording: “Which brand is the one you prefer?” among a list of brands
  • Goal: Preference is like NPS in that it measures loyalty, however it does so by comparing the brand against the competitive market
  • Fit: This metric is useful for brands that are already well-known and working on improving loyalty in a competitive market
Pharah-1.jpg

And very often we create a unique secret-sauce combination of some or all of these metrics, called Brand Strength Scores, for some clients. These special scores use several metrics at varying weights determined specifically for the clients’ goals, industry, and competitive market to calculate a single score to compare against competitors and evaluate change over time.

The point is, there’s no prescribed “right” set of KPIs to track when measuring brand health. These metrics are used to answer different questions, and what KPI a brand like Bank of America might use is probably a lot different than what makes sense for a regional credit union.

However, and this MAY be a stretch, I’d argue namesake would be a great way to gauge ultimate commitment and loyalty to a brand—regardless of size. When I was thinking about what to name Pharah, I thought about the things I love and wouldn't mind repeating (shouting?) for the next decade. To name a pet, or even a person, after a character or brand indicates a level of commitment to that brand that isn’t measured by the conventional KPIs described above.

Who knows, maybe “How likely are you to name a pet after this brand?” will start to show up in our brand health questionnaires.

Laura Blazej is a Senior Associate Researcher at CMB who enjoys playing video games with her new pup.

Topics: brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty

Words from a Veteran Telecommuter

Posted by Betsy Herrick

Wed, Aug 09, 2017

working from home.jpeg

I have the coveted corner office with a magnificent view. But it’s not the typical “corner office” you might be thinking of, the one perched thirty stories up, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering unobstructed views of the bustling city street below. Nope, my corner office looks out over the quiet, rural landscape of my backyard in Maine.

Even though my company’s headquarters are in Downtown Boston, for the past 11 years, I’ve been a full-time remote employee.

When I first started working from home in 2006, it wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today. The concept of working from home, or “telecommuting", as it’s come to be known as, seemed to be a perk that only startups offered employees, not "regular" businesses. To those who weren't familiar with the concept, they probably pictured remote employees as sitting at home with their feet up at their desk eating bonbons. But fortunately, even in the early days, CMB embraced the idea with optimism.

Over the last decade, telecommuting has gained tremendous popularity with the number of full-time remote employees in the US increasing by 115% between 2005 and 2015. I was the first CMBer to work remote full-time, and now we have more than five employees telecommuting with another group doing so part-time.

Both the employer and employee have much to gain from this arrangement, for example, higher productivity, fewer sick or weather-related absences, more flexibility, a generally happier workforce, etc. While telecommuting can be mutually beneficial, there are a couple key things that must happen in order for it to be a productive and successful arrangement.

In my eleven years as a remote employee, I’ve learned communication is integral to a successful telecommuting arrangement. And fortunately, today’s technology makes it really easy for communication to flow seamlessly between colleagues—ensuring I am connected and engaged, even when I’m hundreds of miles away in Maine. In addition to traditional email and good, old-fashioned phone calls (never underestimate the power of the spoken word!), we regularly use virtual meeting software equipped with screen sharing and video chat capabilities. These technologies enhance productivity and enable real-time responses.

A successful telecommuter must be able to prioritize tasks without much guidance and regular physical check ins. It’s their responsibility to keep up with important deadlines, and know which projects take precedence over others when priorities shift. In my case, as a graphic designer, it helps that I have a deadline-oriented job—I’ve been trained to work autonomously towards daily goals, but know when I need to rearrange my schedule if something unexpected pops up.

Working from home offers distractions that a traditional office setting might not—whether it’s the beautiful weather outside or a pile of laundry inside. To combat these distractions, it’s important for a telecommuter to have a designated work space away from their “home life”.  I treat my office space as exactly that, a place “away” from home where I go to work each day. It is a separate space with a desk, good lighting, and all the technology I need to do my job. I do not answer my home phone or go pull weeds in my garden during business hours, just as if I was at my company’s physical location… although I do enjoy having a cat on my lap occasionally while I work.

As telecommuting grows in popularity, companies are discovering other, less obvious benefits from this practice: better staff health, lower operating costs, greater loyalty (with less turnover) for the company, and fewer weather-related business interruptions, to name a few. But despite the pros, telecommuting is not for everyone. When you work remotely, you sacrifice the social aspect of going into a physical office—there’s no water cooler at my house and I regularly miss out on weekly company events.

But ultimately, my commute rocks, my productivity is high, my colleagues keep me “in the loop”, and I love my corner office with a view. I wouldn’t change my work situation if you paid me, and ironically, I already get paid to stay home.

Betsy is CMB’s Corporate Design Specialist, and does enjoy bonbons…just not during working hours.

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey

Qualitative Research: Thinking Outside the Box(ing) Ring

Posted by Kelsey Segaloff

Wed, Aug 02, 2017

My friends and family greeted the news that I was joining a boxing gym with more than a little disbelief. Granted I am an imposing 5 feet tall and have a reputation for tripping over my own feet, so maybe they had a point. But four months and two pairs of gloves later, I’m not only fitter and stronger, I’ve learned some essential truths about boxing that I can apply to my professional life as a qualitative researcher. 

 kelsey boxing.jpg

Don’t forget the “Why”

Boxing is a commitment—physically, financially, and mentally—and it’s tempting to hit the snooze button when I don’t want to get out of bed for an early morning class. Oftentimes, I must remind myself why I keep up with it. To help motivate members, there’s a large chalkboard titled, “Why I Fight” filled with trainers’ and members’ “whys” in the front of the gym.  It’s the first thing you see when you walk in and serves as motivation to both me and fellow boxers.

Focusing on the decisions or the “why” is critical for researchers. Before kicking off a project, we work hard to fully understand our clients’ business needs and the decisions they need to make—this focus keeps us on track for everything from designing a study and choosing a methodology, all the way to the final deliverables and implementation. It’s also important to consider our participants’ “why”—that’s the reason we often use tools like projective techniques in qualitative research to dive deep into participants’ thoughts and uncover their beliefs, motivations, feelings, etc.—the old one-two punch, as some might say.

#FightFam

One of my favorite things about my gym is the sense of community it provides. My #fightfam challenges me to put my all into every class, whether it be Gennifer reassuring me I’m “crushing it,” or Roscoe in the bags room reminding the class we are winners (“And what do winners do? THEY WIN!”). While I feel a personal sense of accomplishment after every class I finish, I also feel a shared sense of pride with my fellow classmates and trainers—and that’s important.

A knockout team is also the foundation for greatness in qualitative research. At CMB, our all-star roster, VP of Qualitative Strategy + Innovation, Kathy Ofsthun, Qualitative Research Director, Anne Hooper, Qualitative Project Manager, Erin Stilphen, and I work together and encourage one another to perform at our highest capacity. We bring inventive and innovative qualitative methodologies like co-creation, and over 40 years of combined qualitative experience to the ring. We’re also adept to thinking on our toes—ask me about the time I recruited for a study in a Canadian train station! And when we need to tap other teammates, we’ve got specialized qualitative research consultants in our corner.

Master Technique, Prepare to Improvise

Boxing is known as the sweet science (the nickname is an appreciation of the technical skills required—strength, endurance, conditioning, core, and flexibility), but it’s just as much an art, requiring improvisation and creativity.

The same goes for qualitative research. We’re masters of improv, but good technique is integral. Recently, I was thrown through a loop while moderating an in-home ethnography for our self-funded research on Millennial and Gen Z use of virtual assistants (think Siri, Cortana, etc.).  Shortly into one of the interviews, it turned out the participant belonged in a different segment than what my guide had indicated. Instead of stopping the interview, I used my improvisation skills and reframed the questions without interrupting the flow of the conversation. Going a little off script helped us gather the insights we needed.

I love that I’ve discovered a sport and gym I am passionate about, and I’m even more thrilled I can draw meaningful parallels between boxing and my profession. Of course, there are times when my muscles ache, my wrists hurt, and I’m tired, but then I remind myself why I keep going. I box because it makes me stronger, faster, and confident—and that these attributes help me be a better qualitative researcher is a bonus!

kelsey boxing 2.jpg

Kelsey Segaloff is CMB’s Qualitative Associate Researcher, and can be found working on her jab-cross at EverybodyFights Boston.

 

Topics: our people, qualitative research, Consumer Pulse, co-creation

Flying High on Predictive Analytics

Posted by Amy Maret

Thu, Jul 27, 2017

pexels-photo-297755_resized-1.jpgBuying a plane ticket can be a gamble. Right now, it might be a good price, but who’s to say it won’t drop in a day—a week? Not only that, it may be cheaper to take that Sunday night flight instead of Monday morning. And oh—should you fly into Long Beach or LAX? As a frequent traveler (for leisure and work!) and deal seeker, I face dilemmas like these a lot.

The good news is that there are loads of apps and websites to help passengers make informed travel decisions. But how? How can an app—say, Hopper—know exactly when a ticket price will hit its lowest point? Is it magic? Is there a psychic in the backroom predicting airline prices with her crystal ball?

Not quite.

While it seems like magic (especially when you do land that great deal), forecasting flight prices all comes down to predictive analytics—identifying patterns and trends in a vast amount of data. And for the travel industry in particular, there’s incredible opportunity to use data in this way. So, let’s put away the crystal ball (it won’t fit in your carry on) and look at how travel companies and data scientists are using the tremendous amount of travel data to make predictions like when airfare will hit its lowest point.

In order to predict what will happen in the future (in this case, how airfare may rise and fall), you need a lot of data on past behaviors. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there are nearly 24,000 commercial flights carrying over two million passengers around the world every day. And for every single one of those travelers, there’s a record of when they purchased their ticket, how much they paid, what airline they’re flying, where they’re flying to/from, and when they’re traveling. That’s a ton of data to work with!

As a researcher, I get excited about the endless potential for how that amount of historical data can be used. And I’m not the only one. Companies like Kayak, Hopper, Skyscanner, and Hipmunk are finding ways to harness travel data to empower consumers to make informed travel decisions. To quote Hopper’s website: their data scientists have compiled data on trillions of flight prices over the years to help them make “insightful predictions that consistently perform with 95% accuracy”.

 While the details of Hopper are intentionally vague, we can assume that their team is using data mining and predictive analytics techniques to identify patterns in flights prices. Then, based on what they’ve learned from these patterns, they build algorithms that let customers know when the best time to purchase a ticket is—whether they should buy now or wait as prices continue to drop leading up to their travel date. They may not even realize it, but in a way those customers are making data-driven decisions, just like the ones we help our clients make every day.

As a Market Researcher, I’m all about leveraging data to make people’s lives easier. The travel industry’s use of predictive modeling is mutually beneficial—consumers find great deals while airlines enjoy steady sales. My inner globetrotter is constantly looking for ways to travel more often and more affordably, so as I continue to discover new tools that utilize the power of data analytics to find me the best deals, I’m realizing I might need some more vacation days to fit it all in!

So the next time you’re stressed out about booking your next vacation, just remember: sit back, relax, and enjoy the analytics.

Amy M. is a Project Manager at CMB who will continue to channel her inner predictive analyst to plan her next adventure.

Topics: big data, travel and hospitality research, predictive analytics

CMB at TMRE 2017

Posted by Savannah House

Fri, Jul 21, 2017

The Market Research Event (TMRE) is one of—if not THE—favorite conference of ours each year. It’s the industry’s “can’t miss” event where over 1,000 market research and insights professionals descend upon Orlando, Florida for three days jam-packed with speaker sessions, learnings, networking, and more. As a supplier, TMRE is an opportunity for us to catch up with clients, peers, and colleagues, while learning (and sharing) the latest industry trends and topics.tmre-1.png

This year, we’re especially excited to be teaming up with one of our favorite clients, ABC, to present on recent work we completed on content discovery in the age of disruption.

Digital disruption is on every business leader’s mind. From the financial services industry to entertainment, we’re all susceptible to the technological forces reshaping how the world works. Technology is empowering consumers—providing them more decision-making power, more options, and higher expectations.

This consumer-centric digital disruption is particularly important to the entertainment industry. There is more original content (and ways to view it) available than ever before, so content creators and broadcasters like ABC need to understand what drives consumers to try a new show AND what keeps them watching. Consumers’ time is precious, and with a seemingly endless supply of content available at their fingertips, they choose wisely.

At TMRE, CMB’s VP of Travel & Entertainment, Judy Melanson, and ABC’s Director of Sales Research, Lyndsey Albertson, will share learnings from a comprehensive content discovery initiative that will resonate with any brand looking to gain traction with new products while navigating a market in flux. Audience members at TMRE will get an inside look at the art and science behind ABC’s deep understanding of the view path to engagement, loyalty, and advocacy.

Speaking of loyalty—some brands may think it’s a hard thing to come by these days. But with the right insights, it’s possible to stay relevant in today’s fickle consumer market.

Another client of ours, SF-based robotics and AI firm, Anki, will also be presenting on an exciting multi-phased segmentation study we recently completed with them. While creating a truly engaging, long-lasting product may begin with understanding your target segment, it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) end there. Effective segmentation should act as a roadmap for product innovation, be a guide for marketing and sales efforts… and quite frankly serve as gospel for the entire company.      

Jeff Resnick, Sr. Director of Global Consumer Insights at Anki, will share the trials and tribulations, the highs and lows, the blood, sweat, and tears… that go into working at a start-up seeking to understand the true essence of WHO is most interested (and will stay interested) in their new products. Their consumer-friendly robot, Cozmo, is cute and all, but what also keeps him relevant is his deep emotional engagement with current and future customers

Want a sneak peek on our segmentation work with Anki? Click below for your copy of a recent webinar hosted by Jeff Resnick and CMB’s VP of Digital Media & Entertainment, Brand Cruz:

Watch Now

 Will we see you at TMRE? If so, as a sponsor, we’re happy to extend a special discount for you to join us. Mention code TMRE17CMB when registering. We also encourage you to visit our booth and attend either (or both!) presentations:

We’re looking forward to connecting and sharing insights with you at TMRE in October!

Savannah House is the Marketing Manager at CMB who is looking forward to connecting with other insights professionals at TMRE in October! 

Topics: Market research

How My Company Keeps Me Loyal

Posted by Tara Lasker

Thu, Jul 13, 2017

CMB word cloud copy.png

As a Research Director at CMB, part of my job is attracting and retaining top talent. I meet dozens of candidates each month, and even though I interview for a variety of different positions, everyone asks how long I’ve worked at CMB.

As LinkedIn reminded me recently, that answer is 17 years. 

The average American stays with their company for just 4 years. Being here for 17, I’d say I’m pretty lucky to have found a company that’s kept me interested, engaged, and loyal after all this time.

What is it that keeps me happily returning to work each day? Interviewing candidates offers me the opportunity to reflect and share what I love about CMB:

  1. Variety: We’re a full-service custom research firm whose focus is on helping solve our clients’ biggest, most complex business challenges. And since our clients include everyone from national financial institutions to Silicon Valley-based tech companies, no two challenges are the same. I’m constantly exposed to new challenges and therefore consider myself a “professional learner"—it never gets old.
  1. Flexibility: Professional services can be a demanding environment, but we strive to create a culture that honors work/life balance. Not only that, we have flexibility to work from home if the occasion calls for it, while some CMBers work remotely full-time. As a mom of two young kids, I especially value this flexibility!
  1. Growth: I’ve held several roles since starting at CMB, each of which has been an opportunity to explore different career paths while leveraging my strengths. I’ve tried and tested and now, as a manager of a large team, encourage my direct reports to explore and grow. It’s extremely satisfying to support the promotion of my colleagues and encourage their professional development opportunities.

Variety, flexibility, and growth have been the cornerstones of my CMB experience. We have a wonderful company culture that values creativity, hard work, and individual growth.

Interested in learning more? Check out our open positions and feel free to ask me questions in the comments!

Tara Lasker is a Research Director on CMB's Technology and eCommerce practice and is grateful to have found her professional home here.

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, Market research

Plotting the Future of Insights… Today

Posted by Judy Melanson

Thu, Jul 06, 2017

The future is here:  technology is empowering people like never before and consumers have myriad choices and high expectations. From the C-Suite down, brands are trying to make sense of digital disruption and what it means for their organization. Insights folks aren’t immune to this disruption—in an increasingly consumer-centric and data-rich world we all have to think about where insight truly adds value.

lunch 2.jpegCMB's Judy Melanson kicks off our "lunch and learn" with Boston-area insights folks by discussing the digital disruption and increasingly evolving corporate environment.

What does this mean for your organization? For nimble, flexible, and innovative firms, there’s a tremendous opportunity to blaze new trails for how insights operates. On the other hand, organizations that are slow to adapt may fall behind and even fail.

In the spirit of focusing on this (now) future, last week a handful of Boston-based researchers joined CMBers for an engaging and insightful “lunch and learn” to share best practices on leveraging opportunities and overcoming challenges in today’s evolving corporate environment. After all, if decisions were easy and choices were clear, none of us would work in research!

During the lunch, CMB’s Brant Cruz presented a short case study on a strategic insights architecture audit we recently conducted of Electronic Arts’ (EA) research department. With the support of senior leadership, EA’s insights team improved the effectiveness of their department, employee satisfaction, and ultimately drove improvements and efficiencies across the organization. We used the EA case study as a jumping off point for discussion because, like many of the researchers around the table, EA was asking big questions like, “how can insights drive positive change and growth?”

lunch 1.jpeg

CMB's Brant Cruz giving a short presentation on our recent strategic insights architecture audit for Electronic Arts' (EA) research department.

After the presentation, we opened it up to the Boston-area insights folks to discuss what they’re most excited about in the future of insights and the challenges/obstacles they currently face. It was an engaging and enlightening conversation that proved organizations across the board—agency, non-profit, financial services, etc.—are facing some of the same challenges.

Here are some emerging themes:

  • Pace of decision-making: It’s important to build in time to gather, analyze, and determine research results. There’s a need to streamline methodologies while adhering to business requirements. The challenge is making time for satisfying both.
  • Organizational structure: Many organizations we spoke to stressed the challenge of a siloed work environment where (1) departments have competing priorities and (2) are sometimes conducting their own research. This compartmentalized structure prevents the potential for the organization to have a cohesive data and insights strategy.
  • Call to action: Most agreed when one researcher mentioned the challenge of research read outs that end in “ta-da” instead of “what now”? Oftentimes there’s a lack of shared vision/grasp of actions to take based on the results. How do we move from “ah ha” moments to actionable strategies?
  • Knowledge sharing: This relates to the siloed organizational structure. When departments aren’t communicating, the organization loses a tremendous opportunity to share knowledge and data within its teams.
  • Lots of data: There’s an amazing amount of data at an organization’s fingertips that sometimes, they don’t know what to do with it. How can an organization identify what data is important that will yield actionable, valuable insight?

While there are common challenges researchers are facing, the changing landscape poses a lot of new opportunities, too:

  • Frameworks: Don’t reinvent the wheel, seize the opportunity to use and improve upon existing designs within the organization.
  • Consider new sources of information: There’s value in looking at “nontraditional” data points, for example, the behavioral psychology of consumer decision-making (e.g., consumer identity and emotion).
  • Blend techniques: Consider a hybrid approach to your research projects, combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies for a richer perspective. In adding a qualitative component to your project, you’ll dig deeper and uncover the “why” behind the numbers.
  • Make data work harder: Look at your data every which way—horizontally and vertically—to identify potentially hidden insights. Look for opportunities to integrate your data in ways you haven’t before.
  • Improve decision-making: Make insights part of your organization’s key decision-making process to drive meaningful action.
  • Focus on the business objectives—What key business questions are you trying to answer? Let that guide your data, insights, and action plan.

There are overarching challenges and opportunities we in the insights community face as organizational structures continue to evolve. And while these larger challenges and opportunities must be met with the support from the top down, there are immediate actions you can take to improve your personal effectiveness as a member of your team:

  • Be an agent of change: Embrace new ideas and tools.
  • Be future focused: Encourage people to think of research as an investment rather than an expense.
  • Be a provocateur: Shape your organization’s thinking by asking hard questions that inspire risk taking and creativity.
  • Be the voice: Advocate for bringing the customer into the organization’s decision-making. In this consumer-centric world, you must connect the brand to the consumer.
  • "Create more value from insights: Provide the "now what" and be accountable for the business result.

Reflect on your research super-power—what makes you good at what you do—and apply it in today’s challenging business environment to drive positive change.

Missed us at the Boston Lunch and Learn? We'll be at the Insights Association's Great Lakes Chapter Meet & Greet in Chicago on July 27! Enjoy cocktails and hor d'oeuvres, network with regional insights professionals, and meet with some of our lead researchers! More information here.

Judy is CMB’s VP of Travel and Entertainment, leading studies to drive strategies to get, keep and grow loyal customers and viewers.  Her super-power, passion, comes alive in her desire to connect with research teams and deliver insights of value.  

 

 

Topics: business decisions, growth and innovation

Sugar Overload: Dashboards that Yield Insights Not Headaches

Posted by Blair Bailey

Thu, Jun 29, 2017

simple froyo.png

Back in the old days (2002?) if you wanted a frozen treat—you ordered from the nice person at the TCBY counter, paid your money, and went on your way. Then Red Mango came to town and it was a game-changer. Now instead of someone else building my treat, I had total control—if I wanted to mix mango and coffee and throw some gummy bears on top I couldI didn’t though, I’m not a monster.

Of course, there was a downside—sometimes I’d walk away with a $15 froyo. Sometimes, there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing”. As a data manager, knee-deep in interactive data viz, I know this applies to dashboards as well as dessert. 

When starting a dashboard from scratch, there’s the same potential to go overboard, but for different reasons. Like flavors and toppings, there are many viewer design and build directions I could take. Will the dashboard be one centralized page or across multiple pages? What types of charts and tables should I use? What cuts should be columns and which should be filters?

The popular platform, Tableau, has so many options that it can often feel overwhelming. And aside from design, Tableau lets users deep dive into data like never before. With so many build options and data mining capabilities at our fingertips, what’s a designer to do?

Forget the gumdrops and jalapeño flavored yogurt—I encourage our clients to go back to basics and ask:

Who is the dashboard for? The content and design of a well-made dashboard should depend on its purpose and end user. The dashboards I create in my spare time (yes, it’s also a hobby !) are very different than the ones I build for clients.  For example, a deep-in-the-weeds analyst will need (and appreciate) very different functionality and design than a C-suite level user would. An analyst interested in deep-dives may need multiple filters and complex tables to cut the data every which way and investigate multiple scenarios, whereas a c-suite level needs a dashboard that answers their questions quickly and directly so they can move forward with business decisions.

It may be tempting to add flashy charts and lots of filters, but is it necessary? Will adding features help answer key business questions and empower the end user, or will it overwhelm and confuse them?

Here's a snippet from a dashboard that an executive could glean a good amount of insight from without feeling overwhelmed:

AffinID sample_simple.jpg

What will they use it for? Depending on what business questions the client is trying to answer, the design around specific types of dashboards may vary. For example, a brand health tracker dashboard could be a simple set of trending line charts and callouts for KPIs. But it’s rare that we only want to monitor brand health. Maybe the client is also interested in reaching a particular audience. So as the designer, I'll consider building the audiences in as a filter. Perhaps they want to expand into a new market. Divide your line charts by region and track performance across markets. Or maybe they need to track several measures over time across multiple brands, so rather than clog up the dashboard with lots of charts or tabs, you could use parameters to allow the user to toggle the main metric shown.

When in doubt, ask. When I plan to build and ultimately publish a dashboard to Tableau Public, I consider what elements will keep the user engaged and interested. If I’m not sure of the answers I force politely ask my friends, family, or co-workers to test out my dashboards and provide honest feedback. If my dashboard is confusing, boring, too simple, too convoluted, awesome, or just lame, I want to know. The same goes for client-facing dashboards.

As a data manger, my goal is to create engaging, useful data visualizations. But without considering who my end user is and their goal, this is nearly impossible. Tableau can build Pareto charts, heat maps, and filters, but if it doesn’t help answer key business questions in an intuitive and useful way, then what’s the point of having the data viz?

Just because you can mix mango and coffee together (and even add those gummy bears on top), doesn’t mean you should. Like TCBY and Red Mango with their flavors and toppings, Tableau offers infinite data viz possibilities—the key is to use the right ingredients so you aren’t left with a stomachache (or a headache).

Blair Bailey is a Data Manager at CMB with a focus on building engaging dashboards to inform key business decisions and empower stakeholders. Her personal dashboards? Less so.

Topics: advanced analytics, integrated data, data visualization

Putting Viewers First in the New Media Landscape

Posted by Lynne Castronuovo

Thu, Jun 22, 2017

Televsion and Fishing.png

While recovering from a recent running injury, I logged A LOT of miles on the “dreadmill” and “helliptical” at the gym—both conveniently equipped with televisions to keep me entertained. Because I was also in the middle of a kitchen renovation, I found particular solace and inspiration in my good friends from HGTV: Tarek and Christina, Chip and Joanna, and the Property Brothers.

I’d grown particularly fond of Tarek and Christina’s “Flip or Flop”, so when I stumbled upon a recent New York Times article about them, of course it caught my attention. Why is it, the author wonders, do these home improvement “stars” now regularly share the covers and pages of magazines previously dominated by Brangelina? Gone are the days of traditional star power and mass appeal programming—as media consumption continues to fragment, niche is the new mass.

Media companies, from networks to celebrity magazines, are having trouble reaching these smaller groups. They’re still fishing in the biggest ponds left, which in the case of HGTV, has a relatively large fanbase in Middle America. But even with the sizable HGTV audience, there’s also the FX and AMC “big-city smarty-pants” groups to think about. With these splintering subgroups, what’s a media company competing for their attention and loyalty to do?

“Do I like these characters?” to “Who do I want to be?”

Traditional programming research focuses on what the viewer thinks about the show’s plot, characters, setting, etc. Don’t get me wrong, these elements are still essential to programming. However, in identifying subgroups based on the content they watch, we need to answer some important questions about identity, namely: “Who do I want to be?”, “Do I want to be perceived as the kind of person who watches this show?”, and “Can I relate to people who typically watch ‘Flip or Flop’?”

As people, we’re motivated by opportunities to reinforce or enhance our identity—it’s an integral piece to who we are. The brands we use (or in this case, the content we consume) can be an expression of identity, so we’re inclined to align ourselves with those that express it in a way that’s meaningful and true. In that vein, we find we can tell much more about a viewer or consumer by asking the identity-centric questions above than something like, “What do I think about the cast of ‘Flip or Flop’?”

This identity-centric framework is the basis for CMB’s identity measurement solution—AffinID. AffinID helps brands understand their target consumers’ image of the typical person who uses their brand (or watches their content) and finds ways to strategically influence that image to strengthen how much consumers identify with the image.

 As competition increases, identity measurement should play a key role to media companies.

So, as the media landscape becomes more fragmented and competitive, and as we continue to see niche groups with particular tastes pop up, media companies need to consider the important role identity plays in viewership—the more a person perceives a show and/or a network's typical viewer as the kind of person they are, they know and like, the more likely they are to engage in it.

This has distinct advantages for content creators testing new pilots—with so many players churning out quality, original content, there’s no room for mediocracy. Prior to pilot launch, creators can measure the identity benefits offered by the show to predict performance, help identify and profile likely viewers, and diagnose potential barriers to viewership.

This approach could be equally helpful to advertisers. Much of the advertising research conducted today is tactical, focusing on ad load and placement. The holy grail is finding what ads are “relevant” and aligned with not only the network, but also the particular program. And as viewers continue consume programming on a number of different platforms, it’s more challenging than ever for advertisers to be sure they’re reaching the right audience or fishing in the right pond.

AffinID can help advertisers identify perceptions of the viewer that drive these positive behaviors, strategically influencing them through the elements/moments featured in the program promos and identifying the ad placements/brand partnerships that make sense for a particular show.

While I won’t be watching Christina and Tarek as much now that I’m running outside again, and have a newly renovated kitchen, they remain important reminders of the future of media consumption. Like celebrities, there are fewer shows with “mass appeal” these days. In order for media companies (content creators, advertisers, etc.) to remain favorable to targeted audiences, they'll need to start looking through an identity-centric lens and consider questions like, “Who do I want to be?”

Lynne Castronuovo is an Account Manager at CMB who enjoys running outside when she’s not cooking meals in her shiny, new kitchen.

Topics: digital media and entertainment research, AffinID

Conference Recap: New England Insights Association Spring Event

Posted by Brian Jones

Wed, Jun 14, 2017

group shot--NEIA Spring 2017.jpg

Insights professionals have a lot of opportunities to learn and network—there is no shortage of conferences, webinars, and meetups—but making time to get out of the office can be a challenge. I get it! That’s why I’ve always valued local industry events—and in particular those hosted by our local chapter of the Market Research Association.

With the merger of the Market Research Association (MRA) and CASRO I was interested to see how our local chapter would adapt. My first look into the new organization was the New England Insights Association (NEIA) Spring Conference. I was happy to see the turnout was great and energy was high. So, what did we take away from the event? I asked some of my fellow CMB attendees to share their favorite takeaways:

  • NEIA helps legitimize market research as a means of delivering valid insights to our clients. With the propagation of “Fake News” and “Alternative Facts” in the media and on social channels, we're all suffering from information overload. Our profession must take the high road amid the noise and ensure we continue to deliver reliable, accurate insights. In the opening session of the conference, David Harris of Insight & Measurement and Ted Pulsifer of Market Cube reminded us that respondents are people and we achieve quality primary research data when we remember that questionnaires are forms of communication with them. They discussed several respondent-centric questionnaire development best practices that yield more accurate answers to the business questions we are asking.
  • We need to remain future-focused and leverage existing (and new) technology. First, Mariann Lowery and Alex Olson of MGMA spoke about how simple SMS technology can be supercharged as a thought leadership polling platform for the healthcare industry. Then, Frank Kelly of Lightspeed Research spoke about how we can get deeper insights in quantitative studies by using voice, video, and other traditionally qualitative technologies. While not “new”, they have become ubiquitous and the tools for using them efficiently at large scales are constantly improving—to our benefit.
  • As researchers, we need to be careful about how we ask questions. The way a question is phrased can have a serious impact on respondents’ answers. For example, at the conference, a volunteer was asked about the placement and number of balloons she saw printed on a colorfully decorated blindfold. Even though there actually weren’t any balloons on the blindfold, after the questioning, the volunteer had become convinced there  were This is a simple example of the power of suggestion and how as researchers we can have a significant amount of influence over respondents’ answers. That’s why it’s important we are cognizant of how and what we’re asking to limit those biases.
  • The importance of knowing your target audience is as critical for B2B research as B2C. Kim Wallace of Wallace & Wallace Associates, described his version of the customer decision journey and the impact that marketing messaging can have on the buyer’s decision. For me, his B2B examples underscored the value and importance of sending the right marketing message to the right potential buyer. 
  • Our industry needs to hear and amplify the voice of corporate researchers. A panel of corporate researchers, including Cathy James of Keurig, Rick Blake of The Hartford, Joe Johnson of LogMeIn and Amy Zalatan of Vistaprint, provided great perspective on the relationship between corporate researchers and research suppliers. They discussed how industry and business culture, coupled with how the insights function is structured internally, varies greatly by organization, and leads to different perspectives on the relationships and values they have with supply-side research companies. The discussion centered on challenges they face as corporate researchers and how they create actionable insights grounded in business decisions.

Overall, the first annual NEIA Spring Event was a great success. I gained insights from industry peers, networked with the New England research community, and came back to work feeling inspired and refreshed.

I encourage anyone interested in staying informed or getting involved with their local Insights Association chapter to visit their website.

CMB is committed to staying involved with local Insights Association chapters. In fact, our VP of eCommerce and Digital Media, Brant Cruz, recently presented with robotics firm, Anki, at the IA Northwest Educational Summit last week in San Francisco. If you’re interested in learning more about this presentation, sign up here to receive your copy of “How to Keep a Cutting-Edge Tech Product Relevant for Today’s Fickle Consumer”.

Brian Jones is a New England transplant from Central New York; but don’t hold that against him. He likes chicken and shells as much as the next guy but is missing good chicken wings. Thanks to Lauren Sears, Senior Associate Researcher at CMB, who contributed content to this article. Lauren’s also from New York but likes Boston better. Shh, don’t tell her family.

Topics: conference recap