Thursday, May 20, 2010

Audience Research - The Future - Data Collection

It's obvious that we are in the middle of a revolution in communication.  With cell phones and the Internet we suddenly have a whole new platform that is evolving in a full digital world following Moore's law.   The law is built on the capacity of integrated circuits which doubles every 2 years - and with it we double the capability the the circuits and their applications.  We no longer talk on our cell phones, we text, surf the Internet, blog, tweet, Facebook, take pictures, shoot movies, and now have millions of apps that do almost anything.

In the Radio Research world a lot of what we do still relies on talking on the phone or filling out pen and paper forms - like the diary.   Our measurement is moving away from this model with the PPM, but is our perceptual and music research following along?

When you think about the telephone perceptual it's a lengthy world.   We have to read off long lists of stations, music mix descriptors, personality names, image descriptions and if we want open ended comments someone has to transcribe them.  It limits the amount of information we can get from them and the time they will stay on the phone.  We also have that interaction with the interviewer which sometimes holds people back from their real actions and thoughts.

Moving perceptual research online opens up a lot of doors.  We often get a lot more open ended responses with very valuable impressions and images, we can cover long list of images, stations and other questions much quicker.  There are also lots of animation options that will allow us to use dial type scales and other ways to collect data that gives us more insight than just the 1-7 scale. Imagine what we could do with the I-Pad touch screen!

Online research also moves at the pace of the responder - not the pace of the music test or the interviewer, the sample can come back to the questionnaire/music list at their schedule.  And of course we can add audio, video and pictures/images into the mix with ease.

Having tried out a few on-line perceptual studies we've seen the potential.  While we have all done a quick survey on-line there is a lot more that can be done in this environment.  Some innovative researchers working with other product lines have started to push the envelope in questionnaire design and the potential is very impressive.

It's a whole new world of potential and possibilities that we haven't even tapped into .  Perhaps as we start to dig into audience research again in our budgets we'll have the courage to innovate instead of just replicate.

In our last post in this series we'll summarize the thoughts early next week.   Please feel free to add yours.

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