The myth of depth: how to research ads better

William Landell-Mills, a director of arnold+ Bolingbroke, argues that much current qualitative advertising research is asking the wrong questions - that we should not be looking for deep, hidden effects but small, subtle and fleeting effects.

The Myth of Depth: How to Research Ads Better

William Landell-MillsArnold + Bolingbroke, a Research Company

The founders of what they called 'motivational research', Ernest Dichter and Bill Schlackman, were both trained in psychoanalytic methods. Nowadays, though few qualitative researchers have formal psychological training, that background still colours assumptions about what qualitative research is and how qualitative research should be done.

When qualitative researchers look at brands and advertising there is an assumption that we should 'go deep'. This is why we have 'depth interviews', whose name suggests a trip down into the consumer and brand psyche. This is...

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