Often, the second day of a conference can pale in comparison to the first as quality content is frontloaded into the schedule. After the second day of MRMW EU 2019, I can confidently say that this is not always the case. The day was still packed full of interesting and topical case studies, this time with more audience participation and interactivity,
Of course, this does (again) make condensing the sessions down into a single theme or takeaway a challenging task. But what did strike me about this day was the emphasis placed on the role of technology in transferring and facilitating knowledge. And this is certainly a trend that will only become more prominent in the coming years as integration and data overload take hold.
Data, Data Sources and Data Distribution
The first sprint of the day was led by eBrand Value and Turkcell, in a presentation that covered how the telecoms provider is tracking brand affinity through social media monitoring in a stimulating case study. The session took the tradition concept further than what is frequently discussed by applying the technique on a campaign level and introducing attendees to the concept of audience migration.
Soon after this, the first interactive session took place — a panel on the role of primary and passive data. Comprising of panellists from Go Plc, Intel and PostNL; the group answered questions on the definition of these terms, how they are being applied and made the case for the two data forms to be more closely integrated. One highlight was the description of the use of passive data for understanding what is happening, and informing active data gathering processes.
In the last session before the first break, Stravito took the stage to explain how to make insights travel. Peter van Keulen — the agency’s CCO — detailed how digital platforms are enabling brands to build hubs of knowledge and share value internally, rather than relying on agencies to replicate findings and present to multiple markets.
Unique and Novel Methodologies
After the first networking break, Niklas Anzinger of Dalia Research tackled the topic of brand tracking. Highlights from this particular session included the role of hyper-targeting and the advantages it can confer to marketing campaigns. Niklas also touched on multilevel regression and post-stratification (which unfortunately went straight over my head — but still provided reassurance that the industry is innovating methodological approaches, not just technology).
Next, Anadolu Efes and Habitus shared the stage with a deep dive into anthropological approaches, especially as a filter for insight. What stuck with me most from this particular session was the two ambitions of marketers the duo highlighted: to get as much data as possible and to be customer centric. Strip away all of the technology and that really is the goal of a research (and marketing department) — everything else is just a way for us to achieve that objective.
In a tough slot before lunch, IFF’s Stan Knoops spoke about how the brand is using frequency measurement (combined with likability data) to drive product decisions. In the fragrances space at least, the brand has noted that the frequency with which a consumer notices a smell is a better indicator of post-launch success than likability alone. This was something Stan charmingly described as a ‘refrigerator insight’ — comparing the moment of realisation to opening a refrigerator door and the light coming on.
Learning, Measuring and Innovating
Post lunch break, Estrella Lopez-Brea from Cereal Partners quickly rejuvenated the room with an engaging presentation on agile learning in innovation processes. The session served as a useful reminder that small companies do have a significant advantage over the titans of industry with their ability to innovate quicker, be cyclical in their processes and stay closer to customers. I especially liked the definition Estella presented of linear innovation processes using research for validation, and cyclicar ones using it for learning — which is much more powerful.
FlexMR’s own Paul Hudson spoke in the next slot — posing a rarely discussed question in the market research industry: how much of modern research experiences are shaped by insights professionals and how much are they shaped by software developers? And how can we bridge the divide between the two. It was great to hear personal examples, stories and the audience participation in helping to start formulating answers to these questions. (You can read my deep dive into this session here).
This set of sessions was then closed by Jacob Wieland and Donna Damalie from the BBC, who presented how they have built a centralised hub that measures media engagement across all of the brand’s channels. This talk was notable for the sheer scale of the challenge that has been overcome in building a pan-BBC measurement protocol and standing as a beacon for what forward thinking brands can achieve with a strategic approach to research.
Connection, Fake News and Neuro Approaches
The final part of the day was kicked off by Estefania Yaguez of L’Oreal, discussing a topic dear to my heart; the role of personalisation in marketing and how customer feedback can drive this — demonstrating how L’Oreal is not just a in the business of beauty, but technology too. This was followed by a joint presentation between Unlock and Brain for Strategy who explored of the 2019 zeitgeist that doesn’t receive much conference airtime: fake news. The duo expertly navigated approaches to identifying when news may not be fully truthful and how to improve media literacy (a sorely needed skill).
At this point, I have to make my apologies to Francesco Adinolfi of Nomad Foods. Although I desperately wanted to stay through the whole presentation, my flight times just wouldn’t allow it. However, what I did see of Francesco’s presentation was fantastic. The second deep dive into neuroscience of the conference, he not just spoke about neuro approaches themselves but how they can facilitate researchers to work closer with creative teams in a complex, matrix structure of organisation.
Summarising the Conference
Again, to stress — MRMW is a tough conference to distil down into a few words. So much was packed into a two day schedule, I’m still processing everything I learnt (and writing these summaries does help me significantly).
I think what I’ll be taking away this year is that the diversity of technology in the research space is growing at a blistering pace, and integration is more important than ever (not just in technology but in operational processes too). The challenge both agencies and brands alike will face over the coming years is how to build a successful stack that works for them out of all of these choices. But, that, in itself, is an exciting challenge. And one I can’t wait to tackle.
The original version of this article appeared on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.