The Warc Blog

The Rise of the 'Always On' Marketer

Posted by: Brand Learning

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There was a time long ago when the job of a marketer was simpler. Skills were learned and honed on the path to marketing mastery. Your media choices could be counted on one hand, customer feedback was in a timely and controlled fashion and your working day ended generally at the end of the day.

As we now know all too well our customers now live and interact in this constant, "always on" world. It is normal for them to engage with our brands and with each other on their own terms, in their own time – and as marketers and brands, we must ensure that we listen, interact and engage with them in real-time too.

30 October 2013, 17:41
Highlights from DMA International ECHO™ awards

Posted by: Lena Roland, Commissioning Editor, Best Practice, Warc

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We recently published over 80 DMA International ECHO™ case studies on These awards are given to campaigns that have the power to change business – winners show the perfect combination of visionary strategy, compelling creative and breakthrough results. Here’s my selection of ECHO cases that I think are worth shouting about. (Note: Warc subscribers can browse all 81 case studies on our DMA International ECHO™ Awards page.)

Tip Top: Feel Tip Top

29 October 2013, 11:31
What has the Implicit Mind ever done for us?

Posted by: David Penn, Managing Director, Conquest

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It seems that implicit is the new black – everybody’s talking about it, at least in the small but feverish world of advertising research. But is it a new idea and how useful is it anyway?

The idea of the implicit mind has been around for quite a while - probably since the 1970s, but received a huge boost in the 1990s with the advent of cognitive neuroscience - particularly through the work of neuroscientists like Antonio Damasio and Joseph Le Doux, with its emphasis on unconscious, emotional response. And more recently, of course, there’s been behavioural economics - particularly the work of Daniel Kahneman, who talks about fast effortless and unreflective thinking (System 1) vs. the effortful, reflective and conscious kind (System 2).  Kahneman’s key point is that whereas System 1 is automatic, System 2 is not.

29 October 2013, 09:32
Qualitative Research - Why Doesn't it Receive More Recognition?

Posted by: Edward Appleton, Senior Manager Consumer Insights, Coca Cola Gmbh

Blog author I've long been a fan of Qualitative Research - Groups, Depths, ECGs, ethnographies.... - both as a Client and Agency Side provider. It's simply powerful stuff.

A quantitative researcher by training, I am frequently stunned by how truly transformational insights are generated by relatively simple qualitative tools in a very short space of time. An evening, if you like.

Paradoxically, Qualitative Research is also an area of MR that in my experience gets consistently undervalued.

  • It doesn't often make it into Board Room presentations
  • It can easily get overlooked in the drive to launch a new product or campaign
  • Sometimes it's regarded as expensive and soft to boot.

Why is that? And: is Qualitative Research doomed to remain the unsung hero in the Marketing Process? I'd say: hopefully not, despite significant headwinds. Here's my take.

  • Qualitative Research is About Much more than "Groups" - and Central to "New Market Research".
Ask a Marketing person what they associate with Qualitative Research, there's a high likelihood the answer is Group Discussions, possibly Depths. Hardly surprising given the fact that Groups were - and probably still are - the most prevalent form of qualitative research around. 

This perception is narrow, hardly exciting, possibly even tainted slightly - and certainly lagging behind reality. It needs an upate.

Qualititative Research has a much broader toolkit now than 10 years ago. It is at the heart of some of the more successful New MR tools - ethnographies, netnography, MROCs - for example. How many of us think of those explicitly as "qualitative"? If the connection were tighter, it would become clear that qualitative has moved on and is playing an important strategic - and creative - role in Marketing growth initiatives - it's pretty central to the upfront process of identifying unmet needs, for example.

The onus is on Agencies - or individual practitioners - to help accelerate the speed with which that is understood to help profit from a growing and exciting industry sector.
  • Technology is an Opportunity for Qualitative, not a Threat.
When the first wave of online qual. appeared - maybe 6 - 8  years ago in Europe - uptake was relatively slow. Many qualitative practitioners I talked to appeared cagey about it, suspicious of losing the richness of insights generated by a (real) in-person dialogue and slightly nervous about something they hadn't done before. The thinking was often: why do a group online?

The opportunites offered by technology for different Qualitative end-uses - online communities for co-creation and innovation research, for example - were slow to be recognised broadly. No doubt Clients (ähmmm..) were equally responsible, risk-averse and with a clear preference for the tried-and-tested.

I'd say the techno-phobia factor is less pronounced now, and less important. Technology (like Love....;) is all around us, invariably cost-free and easy to use. Mobile is a great qualitative Insights-enabler - take a picture of where you are, say what the occasion is, what the mood is, who the people around you are, why you've chosen what you just ordered. The same is true for some of the Social Media Platforms such as Pinterest - they provide fast, inexpensive, visually driven clues, inspiration even, that can be very useful at the front end of the innovation process.

If qualitative can demonstrate to Marketing that it's technologically on the pace, has expanded its toolkit, can leverage advances in the mobile and social web for business advantage, then it's likely to be higher up the list of Resarch priorities when Budgets are planned.
  • New Qualititative Needs Better Visibility
One of the fundamentals for "reward and recogntion" of any discipline is visibility - both amongst Decision Makers in Corporations and amongst the General Public.

Where would Behavioural Economics be without the efforts of Daniel Kahnemann, Dan Pink or Dan Ariely? All are not just academics, they promote their thinking - to Governments, Industry Associations, and of course they write and publish relatively easily-readable books that reach a wider public.

How many qualitative research Agencies can the average clientside Researcher name, as opposed to quant.? The awareness constraints for Qual. are clear: the industry is small and fragmented, gaining awareness requires ongoing efforts, investment, organisation, leadership.

However, with imagination and a good Marketing approach, it's not impossible - capturing the imagination is a battle of ideas as much as anything else, and what better body of creativity than the community of Qualitative Researchers?
  • Big Data Will Ultimately Help Qualitative
 There is so much currently written about big data, predictive analytics and data mining -  the quantification of cities, the self - that one can already sense  the upcoming backlash: we have more and more data, but less and less intelligence.

I'd dare to predict that a technology-savvy qualitative Research body should profit in the post-hype phase of Big Data - back to the microscopic, understanding context properly,  a serious take on understanding the "Why" as well as the "What". 

Behavioural Economics has already established the primacy and science of "irrationality" (we are predictably irrational, according to Dan Ariely), the importance of Context in understanding behaviour - so what better discipline than Qual. to help piece together a picture of what is really going on when people go about their daily purchasing lives.

All of the above sounds perhaps overly optimistic. There are indeed multiple headwinds working against Qualitative: 

  • The current and ongoing obsession with quantification
  • Cultural biases (both the US and Germany) that place more importance on quantification
  • Claims made occasionally by neuroscience that attempt to render alternative methods of understanding less interesting. 

All of these are powerful forces, creating "dominant narratives".

There are also structural challenges, not the least of which being the diminished status of Brand and Creativity in a world of online advertising and Google Adwords. Ad Agencies' Creative departments may often have been vociferous opponents of research, but they were and are important Clients with influential staff and leaders.

Leaving aside the shrinking importance of Ad. Agencies, there is room, a need even, to create a new Qualititative Narrative with broader resonance, should those working within the industry have the appetite for it .

As Moses Naim recently outlines in his book The End of Power (, dominant power structures (megaplayers) are crumbling - thanks largely to low-cost and widely available communications technology, it is becoming increasingly easy for the voices of small, splinter groups (micropowers) - think the Pirate Movement, Occupy - to be heard.

On a more banal level, Qual. Research, individually (quicker but often with lower impact) and collectively (powerful but slower) could implement tried and tested PR and marketing techniques: celebrate "stars", use anniversaries/birthdays eg of Sigmund Freud, Bill Schlackman, co-opt powerful and famous people, tap the Ad industry for creative voices who loved qual.....the list is a long one.

Perhaps it's time for the Qualititative Movement to make its powerful voice heard more clearly.

Curious, as ever, as to others' views. 

ESOMAR is holding a conference on Qualititative Research in Valencia, Spain from November 17 - 19 2013 -
22 October 2013, 11:05
Social: a channel or a strategy?

Posted by: David Tiltman, Head of Content, Warc

Blog author

I spent Tuesday this week at the IPA's Eff Fest - a conference in London that looked at different aspects of 'effectiveness'. (Watch out for a full write-up in the coming days on Warc's event reports section.)

The session I really wanted to attend was the update from #IPASocialWorks, a collaborative effort between UK trade bodies such as the IPA, the Marketing Society and the Market Research Society, with backing from several social networks. Their goal is to try to provide some guidance on how best to measure social media (and they were clear to make a distinction between 'counting' and 'measuring').

16 October 2013, 08:44
Gameplay ... or just play?

Posted by: Ed Castillo, Head of Planning, TBWA\Chiat\Day New York

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A presentation that really captured my imagination during Advertising Week was given by Craig Atkinson and Mark Holden from PHD, who together introduced Source: its agency-wide, web-based workspace for media, communications and channel plan development.

Described as PHD's new "operating system", Source is a central repository of tools, templates, research reports, audience data and online research panel APIs that PHD's planners (and buyers) use to build their plans. But unlike other planning systems, which planners tend to interact with privately and as individuals – and export their work only when it's ready for team and client consumption – PHDers interact with Source conspicuously.

15 October 2013, 10:12
Mythbuster: Nostalgia for a past that never was

Posted by: Mythbuster, Les Binet and Sarah Carter, DDB

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Les Binet and Sarah Carter get a little bit angry about some of the nonsense they hear around them… like nostalgia for a past that never was.

Marketing and advertising people can talk a great deal of nonsense at the best of times. But if you want to hear them at their worst, then ask them to talk about social trends. The average social trends presentation is, we've found, a heady mix of the obvious, the irrelevant and the blatantly false.

10 October 2013, 12:42
Point of view: Has social media killed copywriting?

Posted by: Molly Flatt, Social business director, 1000heads

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In general, I despise the Chicken-licken approach to progress. The insistence that the latest piece of popular technology means curtains for morality, journalism, God, society, TV, music, or whichever pursuit you have a vested interest in preserving in its current form, is an age-old instinct of human nature which never fails to be both boring and inaccurate. A few thousand years ago, Socrates was fretting that the newfangled vogue for writing would destroy our memories, and just look at Derren Brown. Of course, technology alters our behaviour, but human beings are resilient creatures, and we have repeatedly proven that we are capable of combining old and new practices in exciting and profitable ways.

That said, I have to admit that there is plenty of evidence suggesting that copy has taken a dive since blogs, forums and social networks redefined the way brands express themselves online. The imperative to be authentic, accessible and human – and to do it in real time – all too often translates into a woeful mash-up of teen speak, sloppy grammar and Americanised marketing jargon, all heavily laced with a chronic over-use of exclamation marks.

02 October 2013, 09:42

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