Facial Imaging: The “Big-Data” Solution for Emotion Research?

September 2, 2013

We are entering an era where, thanks to technology like facial imaging, “soft-data” on emotions – traditionally the province of qualitative studies or smaller scale specialised surveys –  will become “big-data” that provides very hard results.

Facial Imaging Embeded & Automatic: nViso API in Cinemax site - 1 million views and counting

Facial Imaging Embedded & Automatic: nViso API in Cinemax site – 1 million visitors and counting

At first glance facial imaging (or “facial coding”) seems like just another variant of Neuroscience testing, but in fact it has some very different features. In earlier posts we’ve written extensively on the results obtained from this technology (e.g. see “Soft-Drinks, Soft-Sell“), but in this post I want to get across the point that the really big news is not so much how well facial imaging measures emotion, but how many people and how much emotion can be measured.  This makes it fundamentally different from hardware dependent methodologies like EEG or conventional survey based methods. Two thought experiments for market researchers might illustrate: Read the rest of this entry »


Simple, Scalable and in Shanghai: The future of research?

September 22, 2011

Allow me to blow my trumpet a little: David and I recently presented at the AMSRS conference in Sydney on automated facial imaging – the content must have been worthy, as it earned the ESOMAR-sponsored “Best Presented Paper” Award. But, truth be told, we felt the driver of the award was probably people’s excitement at seeing how much detailed information on emotional response to marketing stimuli can be delivered by a system that just ‘watches human faces over a webcam’. This is illustrated below:

Facial Imaging: From Faces to Reports, No Questions Asked!

The appeal of such systems also came up in a discussion I had recently with a senior colleague that was spurred by news of events at EmSense:  http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/r-i-p-emsense.htm. While things may yet turn out for the best, it did seem to us that selling a system based on sophisticated hardware to US customers, in these tough times, cannot have been easy. As we tossed around the issues, it seemed apparent that as clients become ever more cost-focused and have to deal with massive amounts of data from multiple sources they become increasingly obsessed with research services that are both scalable and simple to implement and interpret.

Read the rest of this entry »


A Market Research Dream – Or is it a Nightmare?

April 14, 2011
Rhizome awardophilia . .

Tomorrows MR Gurus? All Question Answered, No Need For Survey or FGD! (Image by jef safi via Flickr)

Market Researchers are perpetually speculating on the future of MR; at times it is said, as a defence mechanism to save thinking about what needs doing today. In my view, this speculation falls between two extremes – expecting too much change (generally we under-rate institutional inertia in ourselves and our clients), or not anticipating enough (there will be some developments we cannot even begin to imagine).

Yet, there are stirrings in our profession of some genuinely revolutionary changes that will transform the lives of research’s next generation. These are not so much based in the oft heard predictions on new ways to access people’s thoughts (neuroscience, social media research etc.), but on the application of theory and modelling to understand and make sense of such thoughts. What then, might the future look like? Read the rest of this entry »


It’s The Journey, Not The Destination. ‘Shopper Insights’ and the Value of Holistic Research

August 31, 2010

One of the growth areas of market research in recent years has been in the area of “shopper insights”.  It’s an area I’m interested in and believe can claim some expertise in, but it’s also an area where I think we risk misleading clients by pretending the issues are unique to a certain group of consumers (in this case FMCG/CPG shoppers) or can be solved by focus on a certain aspect of the purchase process (e.g. “point of sale”). Shopper Insights as a focus area is indicative of  a  pressing issue in research, where clients have become dissatisfied with “generalised” research reports and seek ever more specific and granular information. This makes research that promises to reveal a “moment of truth” or “nano-second of purchase” very attractive.

Don't Get Lost In The Landscape

Lots to see in the valley, but at some stage you need to climb up and look around... (c) I .Gordon, 2009

Nothing wrong with more focus on key points like that, and it can certainly be helpful in producing actionable research.

But we should be aware that this is an artificial construction. The reality is that these “aha moments” for consumers are seldom as decisive and isolated from other influences as it appears on the surface.

Read the rest of this entry »


Continuous Revolution: Building Change Into the Culture of Market Research.

August 16, 2010

Most Market Research professionals like a bit of variety in their working lives. After all, it’s not the ideal career for people who favour predictability and routine.  David and I have enjoyed such variety in bucket-loads (click on the David & Alastair tab above if you’re interested) sometimes because we had no choice (I recall living through seven major changes of company ownership!) but also because at various critical points in our careers we  had the good fortune of having had bosses who were willing to take a few risks on us and invest time and effort in involving us in new areas.

Giving researchers new challenges and introducing them to new ideas, services and methods is a vital factor in developing our industry. It pays large dividends in producing researchers who are more flexible and creative in their approach, and less likely to get bored and change jobs.  There are many ways this could be tackled, but here are three ideas I think are worth pursuing.

Read the rest of this entry »


Who Will Own Market Research In 2020?

April 12, 2010

Who will dominate?

Go easy with rough stuff - you can never tell who'll be on top in 10 years!

A few years ago it seemed that the big advertising and media groups were on-track to dominate the Market Research industry – Aegis with Synovate, and WPP with, well, almost anything they could get their hands on.

Recently private equity has also developed a strong interest in information companies, currently with ORC and perhaps most notably with the buy-out of Nielsen.   We’ll surely see more from private equity investors in the next decade, but I’m guessing that we’ll see some other interesting trends in the control of marketing research.

One will probably involve the growth and expansion of Asian market research companies. But I’d like to address a more dramatic scenario:  the likelihood that those who currently serve and partner with research agencies may come to dominate, or even own them.

Read On..>