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What’s in a Name? ABC Family Grows Up

Posted by Julia Walker

Thu, Nov 12, 2015

This January, the ABC Family channel will become “Freeform.” The name change, triggered by a misalignment between ABC Family’s current brand strategy and associations the current name conjures, aims to appeal to the brand’s target audience—a more mature, young adult demographic. President Tom Ascheim calls this group "Becomers," males and females ages 14-34 who are going through an exciting life stage of firsts, ranging from "first kiss to first kid."

So, what can viewers expect from Freeform? According to the company, at least some things will stay the same. Freeform will keep a number of popular shows (e.g., Pretty Little Liars and The Fosters) and continue beloved traditions like Harry Potter Weekends and 25 Days of Christmas. But viewers can also expect new programming that takes the brand further from its family-friendly image. 

While the name change seems warranted, a rebrand can certainly flop if not carried out thoughtfully (think: when Radio Shack became “The Shack”). Here are four steps worth following to ensure long-term success in launching a rebrand:

1. Conduct thorough research about the competitive landscape and your target market. Rebranding involves a tremendous amount of preparation, time, and effort, and it risks confusing customers and losing brand equity. It’s wise to consider the repercussions before making changes that might not solve the underlying problems. Renaming infamous private security firm Blackwater to the shorter XE, for instance, hasn’t done the trick. For ABC Family’s part, research revealed many respondents unaware of the brand see it as “wholesome,” which is an indication that the channel’s name was a real sticking point to broadening its audience.

2. Communicate early and often. Being proactive about communication is essential during a rebranding campaign to avoid confusion and to dissuade potential rumors. All marketing and promotional materials should be honest and clarify any questions customers may have, such as the reasoning behind the change or what to expect from the new brand. On ABC Family's social media pages, for instance, some viewers expressed concerns about whether or not the new network would continue its popular 25 Days of Christmas campaign. The channel is leveraging these platforms as a way to answer questions and ease viewers’ fears.

3. Engage customers. Getting the consumer involved is a productive way to create buzz around the rebrand. One way ABC Family has done this is through a user-generated campaign (UGC) in which fans can create content to be posted on the channel’s website. This effectively generates hype around the launch just in time for the January television premieres. Social media can also be used to cultivate engagement with fans. ABC Family already has an impressive social media presence around hit show Pretty Little Liars, which is cable's second most tweeted-about series, but the channel will need to continue encouraging active participation throughout the rebrand.

4. Don’t let the name change stand alone. The name change itself should only be part of a rebrand, and it should be accompanied by an internal strategic shift. The branding must deliver on its promises, or the rebrand will fail to bring about any brand lift. A rebrand can’t be a "superficial facelift," but a sustainable strategic change that allows for the brand to flourish. 

Only time will tell if Freeform can create new content that attracts Becomers and evokes viewers’ "spirit and adventure," while also leveraging existing brand equity to maintain its current core audience.  

Julia Walker is an Associate Researcher who is very excited to continue watching Harry Potter marathons on the new Freeform network. 

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Topics: television, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty, digital media and entertainment research

Brands Get in a Frenzy Over Shark Week

Posted by Athena Rodriguez

Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Summer brings many joys—BBQ’s, the beach, and one of my favorite holidays. . .I’m referring, of course, to Shark Week. For over 25 years, the Discovery Channel has loaded as much shark-related content as possible into a 7-day period, including TV programming, online content, and social media frenzies by both the network and other “official” (and non-official) partners.While some of these partnerships are no-brainers (e.g., Oceana, National Aquarium, and Sea Save Foundation), other less obvious partners such as Dunkin Donuts, Cold Stone Creamery, and Southwest Airlines, must get creative with their marketing to connect their brands to “the most wonderful week of the year.” Southwest, for example, offered flyers the chance to watch new content via a special Shark Week channel and to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to swim with sharks. Both Cold Stone Creamery and Dunkin Donuts debuted special treats (“Shark Week Frenzy”—blue ice cream with gummy sharks—and a lifesaver donut, respectively).

brand engagement, shark week, television

But it didn’t stop there—brands on social media found ways to tie in products to Shark Week in every way possible. Just take a look at these posts from Claire’s, Salesforce, and Red Bull.

shark week, brand engagement, television

So, what’s in it for these brands? Why go out of their way to connect themselves to something like Shark Week, which is seemingly unrelated to their services and products? It’s as simple as the concept of brand associations. Since brand associations work to form deeper bonds with customers, brands are often on the lookout for opportunities that will boost their standing with customers. Shark Week attracts millions of viewers each night, and since it’s one of the few true television events that remains, it presents the perfect opportunity for brands to engage with customers in a way they don’t often get to do. Furthermore, it demonstrates that these brands are in tune with what their customers like and what’s happening in the pop culture world. And, judging by the amount of interactions brands received from consumers, I’d say it worked.

If you missed the fun of Shark Week last month (the horror!) or just want more, don’t worry—Shweekend is just around the corner (August 29th), and I’ll be anticipating what brands can come up with this time. . .

Athena Rodriguez is a Project Consultant at CMB, and she is a certified fin fanatic. 

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Topics: advertising, marketing strategy, social media, television, brand health and positioning, digital media and entertainment research

The 7 Types of Loyalty You'll Find in the 7 Kingdoms

Posted by Heidi Hitchen

Mon, Jun 01, 2015

game of thrones logoWarning: This post contains spoilers for George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones.

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” This is the message of popular book series A Song of Ice and Fire and hit HBO TV series Game of Thrones. In the fictional world of Westeros, you learn pretty quickly that honor, duty, and loyalty will get you nowhere.As market researchers, we can learn a lot about loyalty from Westeros. There are more kinds of loyalty than there are self-proclaimed kings of the 7 kingdoms—and just like those kings (sorry, Tommen), these types of loyalty aren’t all created equal. Luckily, we have a way of categorizing (and then quantifying the value) of different types of loyalty—a concept I’ll illustrate using some of our favorite Westerosi characters.

In the world of loyalty measurement, everyone starts in the first archetype, which is just plain “Loyal.” Assuming that everyone is loyal in some way is certainly a dangerous assumption in Westeros, but we’ll take our chances and put everyone who isn’t a Wildling into that category to start.

True Loyal: You can argue that as the sworn sword of Renly Baratheon (deceased) and Catelyn Stark (also deceased), Brienne of Tarth has not been terribly successful. But, you can’t deny that she’s gone out of her way to fulfill her vow of reuniting the Stark girls. Come the Hound or high-water, she’s devoted. This is the type of customer (or sworn sword) we’d all like to have in our corner.

At-Risk Loyal: Varys may say he’s true to the 7 Kingdoms, but the former Master of Secrets’ loyalty extends only so far. . .which Tywin Lannister (RIP!) learned a little too late. In Westeros, and in the marketplace, this type of loyalty is the one you’ll have to work to hold on to.

Deal Loyal: Your customer may enjoy your product as much as Bronn enjoyed being with Tyrion, but don’t forget that sell swords and Deal Loyal customers are primarily motivated by bags of gold—or discounts.

Uninvolved: This could have described our friends in Dorne until very recently (thanks, Cersei), but perhaps the most accurate example of the Uninvolved are the average citizens of Westeros. These people don’t hold much allegiance for any king—they just want to make it through another winter with their heads attached. It’s the same (well, not exactly the same) for your uninvolved customer. They use your brand but are pretty indifferent overall.

Distribution Loyal: Petyr Baelish’s allegiance is questionable at best. Baelish (who is better known as Littlefinger) spreads his loyalty across the kingdom, manipulating people and resources to slowly claw his way into power. He may be loyal to House Tully (and the Starks by extension), but we know he’s also made major plays for the Lannisters. It’s all about the end game for Littlefinger, which is why he’ll use people as a means to an end and then switch when something better comes along.

Captive Loyal: Poor, poor Sansa. Can’t a girl catch a break? She’s had three fiancés and two husbands, and she's still held prisoner by her claim to the North. While she’s recently learned how to use her circumstances to her advantage, I’ll go out on a limb and say she’s probably on the lookout for a better option—the North remembers. Like Sansa, Captive Loyals aren’t satisfied with your product, but they’re likely to continue using it for the time being.

Where does your loyalty lie?

Heidi Hitchen is a true loyalist to House Stark. She’ll continue to root for the King in the North until the White Walkers come for her. Winter is coming!

Watch our recent webinar to learn about our results-focused emotional measurement approach we call EMPACT℠: Emotional Impact Analysis. Put away the brain scans and learn how we use emotion to inform a range of business challenges, including marketing, customer experience, customer loyalty, and product development.

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Topics: television, customer experience and loyalty, digital media and entertainment research

Social Media? Scandal's Got It Handled.

Posted by Kirsten Clark

Thu, May 14, 2015

describe the imageDo you have plans tonight?

If you’re like me, you’ll be snuggled up on your couch with a glass of red wine in one hand and Twitter pulled up on your phone in the other, ready and waiting for tonight’s Scandal finale. I’ll admit it: I love all Shonda Rhimes’ shows. I’ve watched Grey’s Anatomy since season 3 and How to Get Away with Murder after it premiered last fall. But as much as I love these two shows, I know I can DVR them and avoid spoilers. There’s one of Shonda’s shows, however, that I will move mountains to watch live because I just know that if I don’t, I will be spoiled the minute I go online. That show, ladies and gentlemen, is Scandal.

Since its premiere in 2012, Scandal has positioned itself as “event television”—the kind of can’t-miss show that needs to be watched live to get the full experience— which, if you think about it, is a pretty amazing feat. Just a few years ago, event television was thought to be dead with few exceptions (award shows, sporting events, etc.), but Scandal has resurrected it. How? Through cliffhangers, top secret plots, and brilliant marketing campaigns. But none of these have contributed more to this positioning than the show’s masterful use of Twitter.

describe the image

The community the show has built on Twitter has been key to Scandal’s success, and this success story has a lesson that all brands should remember: loyalty and engagement are key. So, how has Scandal been able to do this? Through an immersive campaign that integrates organic fan-generated content with participation from cast and crew members. Each Thursday night, I am one of the #Gladiators scrolling through Twitter to read live tweets from fellow fans as well as cast members. The actors on the show are not the only people participating—fans can chat with Scandal’s writers (@ScandalWriters), prop master (@scandalprops), makeup department (@ScandalMakeup), and others.

In addition to live tweeting, Scandal has also brilliantly incorporated hashtags into its social media strategy. For instance, in 2012, the show was one of the first programs to advertise on Twitter and to feature a promoted hashtag (#WhoShotFitz) in advertising. The show uses a variety of hashtags for different purposes. For example, the show used #ScandalRecruitment during one month in season three to attract new viewers, and it often promotes #AskScandal, which viewers can use to ask a cast or crew member a question about the show.

All of this has culminated in a massive social media following. The show’s fans send out over 350,000 tweets per episode and, until recently, Scandal had the highest average tweets per episode during live airings of any broadcast drama this season. The show that beat Scandal? Newcomer Empire, which has based its social media strategy (live tweeting, promoted hashtags, etc.) off the success of Scandal’s strategy.

You’re probably asking yourself: why does this matter? First of all, after watching Olivia Pope shut someone down with a scene-stealing speech, is there anything more exciting than getting to directly interact with Kerry Washington about that exact scene? (The answer is no, people.) More importantly, Twitter released a study last May which found that after seeing TV-related tweets, 90% of people take “subsequent action such as watching a show they’ve never watched before, resuming a show that they’d previously stopped watching, and/or searching for more information about the show online.” Let this be a lesson to all brands (not just television shows): building a passionate fan base on Twitter generates loyalty and engagement, which in turn generates increased revenue.

So, fellow Gladiators, cancel your plans and settle in, because tonight promises to be another adventure—both on-screen and on your Twitter feed.

Kirsten Clark is a Marketing Associate at CMB who one day aspires to be like Olivia Pope. . .except without all torture, murders, and Presidential affairs.

Topics: marketing strategy, social media, television, customer experience and loyalty, digital media and entertainment research

Deflategate and the Dangers of Convenience Sampling

Posted by Athena Rodriguez

Wed, Jan 28, 2015

The Patriots have landed in Phoenix for yet another Super Bowl, but there are still those who can’t stop talking about “Deflategate.” Yes, that’s what some are calling the controversy surrounding those perfectly legal 12.5 PSI inflated footballs that lost air pressure due to changing atmospheric conditions and repeated Gronking* after touchdowns during the first half of the Pats-Colts showdown.

Here in Boston, we were shocked to turn on the TV and hear the terrible accusations. Were we watching and reading the same things as the accusers? Did those doubters not watch the press conferences (all three of them) where our completely ethical coach proclaimed his team’s innocence? Did they not understand that Belichick even conducted a SCIENCE EXPERIMENT? 

Or could it be simply that the doubters live outside of New England?

athena blog

The chart above makes it pretty obvious—from Bangor to Boston, we just might have been hearing the voices of a lot more Pats fans. This is, in fact, a really simple illustration of the dangers of convenience sampling—a very common type of non-probability sampling.

Sure it’s a silly example, but as companies try to conduct research faster and cheaper, convenience sampling poses serious threats. Can you get 500 completes in a day? Yes, but there’s a very good chance they won’t be representative of the population you’re looking for. Posting a link to your survey on Facebook or Twitter is fast and free, but whose voice will you hear and whose will you miss?

I’ve heard it said that some information is better than none, but I’m not sure I agree. If you sample people that aren’t in your target, they can lead you in the completely wrong direction. If you oversample in a certain population (ahem, New Englanders) you can also suffer from a biased, non-representative sample.

Representative sampling is one of the basic tenets of survey research, but just because it’s a simple concept doesn’t mean we can afford to ignore it. Want your results to win big? Carefully review your game plan before kicking-off data collection.

  • Sample Frame: Is the proposed sample frame representative of the target population?
    • Unless you are targeting a niche population. . .
      • online panel “click-throughs” should be census balanced
      • –customer lists must be reflective of the target customers (if the population is all customers, do not use email addresses unless addresses exist for all customers or the exceptions are randomly distributed)
      • –compare the final sample to the target population just to be sure
  • Selection: Does the selection process ensure that all potential respondents on the frame have an equal chance of being recruited throughout the data collection period?
    • To be sure, you should. . .
      • randomize all lists before recruiting
      • not fill quotas first
      • not focus on hard-to-reach respondents first
  • Data collection: Will the proposed data collection plan adversely affect sample quality?
    • –Ask yourself:
      • Are fielding dates unusual (e.g., holiday, tax returns, Super Bowl, etc.)?
      • Is the schedule long enough to cover weekdays and weekends? Will it give procrastinators sufficient time to respond?
  • Structure: Will important subgroups have sufficient sample sizes if left to fall out naturally?
    • –If not, set quotas. . .
      • –Quota groups must be weighted back to their natural distribution before analysis or treated as an oversample and excluded from any analysis at the total level.
  • Size: Is the proposed sample size sufficient?
    • –We must always balance costs against sample size, but, at the same time, we must recognize that we need minimum sample sizes for certain objectives.  

Are there times you might need some quick and dirty (un-Patriot like) results? Absolutely. But, when you’re playing for big insights, you need the right team.

*spiking the football after a touchdown.

Athena Rodriguez is a Project Consultant at CMB. She’s a native Floridian, who’s looking forward to the end of the Blizzard of 2015 and the start of Sunday’s game!

Topics: Boston, television, research design, digital media and entertainment research

NFL Popularity Rises as Fans Leave Stadiums

Posted by Lindsay Maroney

Thu, Sep 04, 2014

Originally posted on the South Street Strategy Group Blog

nfl, user experience, customer experience,

With the National Football League (NFL) projected to make over $9 billion this year, it is the most profitable and popular professional sports league in the US. Despite this, the NFL is struggling to fill its stadiums, with overall attendance experiencing recent declines. While attendance numbers reached a high of 17.4 million for the 2007 season, it fell to 16.6 million in 2011. Although it has rebounded, totaling 17.3 million in 2013, attendance remains a concern.One likely reason is that the “experience” of watching a game from home has begun to rival or even surpass that of attending one live. Advances in TV technology give fans a better view, and programs, such as NFL RedZone and DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket, make it possible to watch live action from multiple games at once. In addition, the cost of attending an NFL game has continued to rise. In 2013, the average price per ticket was $82, up 3% from 2012 and more than 50% from 2003. Parking, meanwhile, averaged $31 and beer, $7. Taking into account only these purchases, which does not include money spent on food, memorabilia, or tailgating, a pair of fans will spend over $200 to attend a single game. Watching at home will cost only a fraction of this amount.

As a result, NFL teams are overhauling their customer experience efforts, making an attempt to keep fans coming to their stadiums. For the 2014 season, all teams must meet minimum standards for Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, and some teams have already taken this a step further. The New England Patriots, for example, have a Gameday Live app, which allows fans access to game replays, live field cameras, statistics, league scores, restroom wait times, weather, traffic and more. The Atlanta Falcons have a similar app, Falcons Mobile, but theirs also includes exclusive opportunities for season ticket holders to stand in the tunnel as the players run out, hold the flag on the field during pregame, or receive an in-game visit from a Falcons cheerleader. In addition to these apps, many teams are planning to improve the view by installing new mega video boards, and the San Francisco 49ers newly constructed stadium includes a “fantasy football lounge” so fans can follow their fantasy team.

The franchise that takes the grand prize in these efforts, however, is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Investing $63 million in renovations this past off-season, the Jaguars revamped their video boards and installed an interactive fan area. Highlighting these installments are the two largest outdoor displays in the US, which measure at 362 feet wide and 60 feet tall, and a two-story Party Deck. The Party Deck includes cabana-style seating areas, video screens, bars, and two large spa-type wading pools and other water features.

While the continued profitability and popularity of the NFL is not in doubt, the primary viewing venue of fans is. The battle to reach consumers will continue, as more NFL teams strive to bring added comforts to the stadium. 

South Street Strategy GroupLindsay is an Associate Consultant at  South Street Strategy Group. South Street Strategy Group, an independent sister company of Chadwick Martin Bailey, integrates the best of strategy consulting and marketing science to develop better growth and value delivery strategies. Read South Street's Strategy Group's blog here.

 

Topics: South Street Strategy Group, strategy consulting, mobile, television, customer experience and loyalty, digital media and entertainment research

Super Bowl Squares: The Secrets to Winning Big

Posted by Jim Garrity

Tue, Jan 28, 2014

Super Bowl 2014 XLVIIAnother Super Bowl weekend is upon us and it’s another year that my team isn’t in it. Worse yet a dear friend (and client) of mine forced me into an early-season wager pitting my poor team against her juggernaut Denver Broncos, to see who would have a better season. Unfortunately, the Pats are out of the Super Bowl, and I am out one lobster dinner. 

Luckily, I’ve got a cunning plan to recoup that loss and I’m happy to share it: your office's Super Bowl Squares. I can hear you already “Jim, Super Bowl Squares have all the strategy of the card game War!" But I’m here to explain how you can get an edge in this classic living-room lottery. So if you are looking to get a leg up on your best friend, 86 year old aunt, or 13 year old nephew you’ve stumbled onto the right blog. 

At CMB we pride ourselves on turning data into actionable decisions. So with that backdrop in mind:

You already know that some combinations are preferred over others (specifically combinations containing zeros, threes, and sevens).  But do you know how much better one combination is than another? Well, assuming you are in one of the pools that pays out quarterly here’s what you need to know:

There are 28 combinations that have a positive expectation. That is, if you had one of these combinations every year, you’d expect to win more money than you lost (of course that assumes you are playing for money, which obviously none of us are!). Anyway, here are the 28 combinations that you should feel pretty good about:

7-0/0-7

0-0

3-0/0-3

7-7

7-4/4-7

7-3/3-7

4-0/0-4

4-1/1-4

3-3

4-3/3-4

7-1/1-7

6-0/0-6

4-4

6-3/3-6

1-0/0-1

7-6/6-7

But what if you don’t have one of those combinations?  Well, this is where the “turning data into actionable decisions” part comes in…There are 5 combinations worth paying a substantial premium for. Yes, that’s right if you aren’t lucky enough to get a good combination you might consider taking action and finding someone who isn’t good at math (or hasn’t read this blog) and buying their combination. Below are the five combinations that each have an expectation of at least 4x. So if you can separate Aunt Millie or little Bobby from one of these squares for anything less than 4 times the per square price, you’ll be doing ok.

7-0/0-7

0-0

3-0/0-3

However, maybe you’ve been lucky enough to land one of these top 5 combinations and you're watching the game with people who overvalue these combinations.  I’ve already told you that you should be willing to pay up to 4x for each, but what if you wanted to sell?  Since only 0-0 has an expectation greater than 7x, try to get someone to pay in excess of 7 times the buy-in for the others. For 0-0, get at least 9x.

Lastly, maybe you are one of those people who like to zig when others zag. Here are two combinations that have a close to even money expectation (actually around .8), but may seem to others to be far worse. Perhaps you could make someone an offer of 50 cents on the dollar for one of these:

3-1/1-3

4-6/6-4

Whatever you do, stay warm, enjoy the game, don’t eat too much, and NEVER drink and drive.  Good luck!

Jim is VP of CMB’s Financial Services practice, he'll be watching the big game on Sunday...and DVRing Downton Abbey.

Topics: television, digital media and entertainment research

TV Untethered: The Majority of Mobile TV Viewing is Happening at Home

Posted by Kristen Garvey

Wed, Jun 05, 2013

CRE Logo

This weekend, my 10 year old Jack sat on our comfy couch with a big screen TV just feet way, but he chose to curl up with the iPad to watch his episode of Star Wars.  In just a few clicks of the remote he could have watched it in HD on a beautiful big screen. I found myself wondering why. Was it a few clicks too many to reach On Demand?  Was it just more convenient to pick up the iPad and watch his show in a few taps? There’s no doubt consumer behavior is changing when it comes to how we watch TV and the big screen doesn’t always win.

This week the Council for Research Excellence (CRE) released a study they commissioned Chadwick Martin Bailey to run to understand the impact of mobile media devices on overall TV viewing behavior. Next week Chris Neal, leader of CMB’s Technology and Telecom practice will be joining Laura Cowan, research director at LIN Media and co-chair of the CRE’s Media Consumption and Engagement Committee at the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) Audience Measurement 8.0 conference to present the results. The conference takes place June 10-11, 2013 in New York City.

This study indicates that Jack is not alone in choosing the iPad over the big screen. In fact the study found the majority of “mobile” TV viewing occasions happen at home—82%  of tablet TV viewing occasions happen in-home and even 64% of smartphone viewing occasions happen here.  One of the key drivers of that choice is simply convenience:  it’s easy, the television set might be in use by someone else, and/or some consumers don’t have the same online streaming capabilities to their TV that they have on mobile devices. Check out more results of the study here.

“Much of the TV being watched on mobile devices is currently being distributed by online subscription services (e.g., Netflix, Hulu),” according to Neal. “There are opportunities for networks, pay TV providers (e.g., cable, satellite, fiber) and content owners to boost their libraries available via mobile devices and make their mobile apps more compelling so they don’t lose audience share as consumer viewing habits change.”

New Age of TV

 

Interested in learning more? Check out the ARF Audience Measurement conference next week in New York and download CMB’s self-funded research on this New Age of Television

 

 

Kristen is CMB's VP of Marketing, a mom of two, and enjoys streaming content through Amazon Prime on the rare occasion she can get her iPad from Jack. Follow her on Twitter: @KristenGarvey

Topics: mobile, Consumer Pulse, television, digital media and entertainment research

How to Catch a Catfish: Secrets of a Qualitative Researcher

Posted by Anne Hooper

Tue, Mar 12, 2013

catch a catfish

Those who know me understand that I am not afraid to admit I love reality TV.  Combine that love with an interest in pop culture (generally), and a passion for understanding what people do and WHY they do it, and you have a match made in heaven. So obviously Catfish—the MTV series —is right up my alley.

Talk of "Catfishing" seems to be everywhere these days, but for the uninitiated, I’ll give you the quick (Wikipedia) definition: “A Catfish is a person who creates fake profiles online and pretends to be someone they are not by using someone else’s pictures and information.”  Put simply:  Catfishing is a relationship built on deception.

So what does Catfishing have to do with online qual?

As a qualitative researcher, I have to build “relationships” with strangers all the time, both online and in-person.  I can guarantee you that these relationships are genuine, authentic and honest—at least from my end.  My ultimate goal is to better understand research participants as human beings—how they live, what they value, what makes them ‘tick’, etc.  Most of the time, I truly feel that those I’m spending time with (both online and offline) are also being authentic and honest with me. Notice I said most of the time

Though it doesn’t happen often, it IS possible to come across a phony (AKA “Catfish”) in an in-person setting.  There are some pretty savvy people out there who seem to know how to make their way into a focus group for some extra cash.  Thankfully it’s rare—and most of the time these folks get weeded out before they even enter the room.  Online qualitative research, on the other hand, is ripe for Catfish.  Unless we are conducting video web-based research, there aren’t any visual clues to help us validate identities.  Therefore, we can’t be 100% sure that the person we THINK we are talking to is really that person.

The good news is that as researchers, we can take measures to protect ourselves from these Catfish participants online—it just takes a little effort and creativity.  Here are a few methods I’ve used successfully in the past:  

  • Demographics:  If you have a participant that has an annual income of $50K and claims to spend an average of $10K a year on vacation, you’ve got yourself a red flag.  Taking the time to cross reference demographics with online responses can be extremely helpful in getting to the truth.

  • Common sense:  Individual responses don’t stand alone, but pulled together they create a story.  At the end of the day you either have a story that makes sense or you don’t, and a story that doesn’t make sense is another red flag.  Just as one would do when moderating an in-person group, there are times when you must revisit what someone said earlier, and if necessary, request clarification.  (In the immortal words of Judge Judy: “If it doesn’t make sense, it’s not true.”) 

  • Consistency:  A lack of consistency can be another red flag.  If a participant says one thing, but contradicts themselves sometime later, there might be a problem.  Here’s an example:  in a recent “vacation” detective magnifying glassstudy we had a participant who changed her dates of a travel a few times (not unusual).  She later confirmed purchasing a package (air, hotel, car) for a family of 5 one week prior to departure (somewhat fishy … especially for someone who was very price sensitive).  Her “confirmed” travel dates were from the 25th-30th of the month—and when she hadn’t checked in, as requested during that time, we reached out to her to find out that she was “already home” on the 29th.  Suspicious?  Very.  This lack of consistency—along with several other red flags—confirmed our suspicions that she was not being truthful and she was pulled from the study.  Again, to quote Judge Judy, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to have a good memory.”

  • Engagement:  There are always going to be participants who choose to do the bare minimum in order to get their incentive.  However, a lack of engagement and openness—coupled with any additional red flags—requires some investigation.  Is the participant just taking the easy way out by answering questions in as few words as possible, or are they skipping key questions altogether?  Skipping key questions (e.g., “Tell us what you like best about product X”) could be a sign that they really don’t use product X after all.  Again, it’s important for the moderator to probe accordingly and if the probes go ignored … you guessed it … another red flag.

With online research (and plenty of Catfish) here to stay, we need to continue to be vigilant in crossing our T’s and dotting our i’s.  I, for one, am ready to catch them … hook, line and sinker.

Anne is CMB’s Qualitative Research Director.  She enjoys travel and thanks to DVR, never misses an episode of Judge Judy. Anne especially loves being able to truly “connect” with her research participants—it’s in her Midwestern blood.   

Learn more about Anne and her Qualitative Research team here.

Topics: qualitative research, television, digital media and entertainment research

Super Bowl Squares: Increase Your Odds of Winning

Posted by Jim Garrity

Fri, Feb 01, 2013

As we prepare for Super Bowl XLVII we thought we'd share, once again, Jim Garrity's tips for picking Super Bowl Squares. Originally published 4/4/2011.

Super Bowl XLVII 011 resized 600Super Bowl weekend is upon us and if you are like most Americans you’ll gather with friends/family to watch the game on Sunday evening whether you have a rooting interest or not.  Maybe you’re a football fan, maybe you’re simply a sports fan, or maybe you’re a fan of commercials.  Even if you’re not a fan of any of it, there are always Super Bowl squares to keep your interest focused on the game.  Ah yes, the classic “gamble” of Super Bowl squares contains all the strategy of the card game War, truly leveling the playing field.  But maybe you’re looking increase your odds of winning…some way to get a leg up on your best friend, 86 year old aunt or 13 year old nephew.  Well, if you are one of THOSE people you’ve stumbled onto the right blog.  At CMB we pride ourselves on turning data into actionable decisions.  So with that backdrop in mind...

You already know that some combinations are preferred over others (specifically combinations containing zeros, threes, and sevens).  But do you know how much better one combination is than another?  Well, assuming you are in one the pools that pays out quarterly here’s what you need to know:

There are 28 combinations that have a positive expectation.  That is, if you had one of these combinations every year, you’d expect to win more money than you lost (of course that assumes you are playing for money, which obviously none of us are!).  Anyway, here are the 28 combinations that you should feel pretty good about:

7-0/0-7

0-0

3-0/0-3

7-7

7-4/4-7

7-3/3-7

4-0/0-4

4-1/1-4

3-3

4-3/3-4

7-1/1-7

6-0/0-6

4-4

6-3/3-6

1-0/0-1

7-6/6-7

But what if you don’t have one of those combinations?  Well, this is where the “turning data into actionable decisions” part comes in… There are 5 combinations worth paying a substantial premium for.  Yes, that’s right if you aren’t lucky enough to get a good combination you might consider taking action and finding someone who isn’t good at math (or hasn’t read this blog) and buying their combination.  Below are the five combinations that each have an expectation of at least 4x.  So if you can separate Aunt Millie or little Bobby from one of these squares for anything less than 4 times the per square price, you’ll be doing ok.

7-0/0-7

0-0

3-0/0-3

However, maybe you’ve been lucky enough to land one of these top 5 combinations and you are watching the game with people who overvalue these combinations.  I’ve already told you that you should be willing to pay up to 4x for each, but what if you wanted to sell?  Since only 0-0 has an expectation greater than 7x, try to get someone to pay in excess of 7 times the buy-in for the others.  For 0-0, get at least 9x.

Lastly, maybe you are one of those people who like to zig when others zag.  Here are two combinations that have a close to even money expectation (actually around .8), but may seem to others to be far worse.   Perhaps you could make someone an offer of 50 cents on the dollar for one of these:

3-1/1-3

4-6/6-4

Whatever you do, stay warm, enjoy the game, don’t eat too much, and NEVER drink and drive.  Good luck!

Posted by Jim Garrity. Jim is VP of CMB’s Financial Services practice, never wears blue jeans to work, and is getting ready to make Aunt Millie an offer she can’t refuse…unless of course she reads this blog post

Topics: television, digital media and entertainment research