LONDON: Combining digital and traditional research, improving online surveys and building relationships with clients were among the subjects discussed at Warc's Online Research: Now & Next Conference yesterday.

A variety of industry voices gathered in London, with insights from both the client- and agency-side. A full conference report, including presentation slides and video interviews, will be available on soon.

Until then, you can watch Warc's video preview of the event.

In one presentation, Jackie Hughes, director of European planning and research at Kellogg Europe, argued that digital research can sometimes offer additional benefits to "in-person" MR.

As evidence, she cited a study the food giant had conducted with Synovate, in which two groups of consumers talked about making porridge - one via home visits, and the other remotely through Skype.

Hughes said that while "the overall story was the same", data gathered via the latter channel actually represented a "more authentic, real experience".

This was due to a number of factors, including the fact contributors felt less embarrassed about sharing their feelings with a screen rather than another person.

Moreover, some of the "at-home" group did not want their kitchens filmed, because of concerns that they looked untidy.

In a separate presentation, Jon Puleston, vice president at GMI Interactive, called on brands and market researchers to put greater thought into the design of their surveys.

He argued there is "a linear relationship" between participants' emotional engagement and how much time they spend completing questionnaires.

Rephrasing questions, adding pictures and elements of "game play" to surveys can enhance the quality of feedback six times over, Puleston added.

He also said that brand awareness could increase by 20%, and the amount of feedback often grows by over 100%.

Other speakers at the event included Niels Schillewaert, professor in marketing at The Vierick Management School, who urged the research community to become "market-orientated".

"Research should be about inspiring managers, giving them new ideas and to stimulate their thinking," he said.

Looking ahead, Guy Rolfe, mobile knowledge leader at Kantar, encouraged researchers to concentrate on conducting surveys and other work via feature phones and smartphones.

The primary reason for this is reach, with 5bn mobile subscribers worldwide - a total predicted to hit 6bn later this year - compared to 2bn fixed line internet connections.

"Mobile is the world's favourite communications media," Rolfe added.

Warc's next conference, Measuring Advertising Performance 2011, is a two-day event, being held on March 30th-31st in London. Booking information can be found at the Warc Store.

Data sourced from Warc