FEATURE: Carpet Slipper Conference
Last week’s ‘Festival of NewMR’ broke new ground in various ways. DRNO Features Editor and virtual conference-goer Teresa Lynch looks back at 24 hours of leading edge thought and trailing edge fashion...
As readers will probably know, the dress code is not very demanding at your average market research conference: in fact some participants deliberately dress down. However today many of the great and the good must have hit new sartorial lows as they sat down in dressing gowns and slippers and prepared to listen (and in some cases present) at the Festival of NewMR.
Ray Poynter’s idea was quite simple: a webinar in three time zones lasting from 1am GMT to 6.45pm EST with a wide range of speakers chosen by ballot by those who were prepared to pay between $20 and $50 in total to listen to them. The festival also had a poster competition, a movie competition and various other fringe events. I set my alarm for the last session in the Asia/Pacific zone.
The good news was you didn’t have to leave the house. Many ‘delegates’ were revelling in being set free from the tyranny of the conference room; tweets concerning market research multitasking included ‘babysitting a sick kid’ and ‘hanging the laundry’. Others were pleased with the economy of it all ‘What a bargain... may well make it harder to pay $1,000 plus for future offline conferences’.
And the content was - pretty much spot on. Some real surprises like a paper by Duncan Stuart of Kudos Organisational Dynamics about researching the optimum ‘Bump point’, which is where a brand can push consumers with most effect to use their product; and one by Jon Puleston of GMI Interactive which gave delegates tips on increasing both the quality and the quantity of open ended questions by as much as a factor of six by making them more stimulating. Some old favourites like Tom Ewing on Gamification and Annelies Verhaeghe on gathering and analysing social media data; plus a paper from Bernie Malinoff, ‘Sexy Questions, Dangerous Results?’ which pointed out that using fancy bells and whistles on questionnaires can make it more difficult for the respondents to fill them in. And... some papers by MR stars, that delegates may have seen somewhere else but were still worth listening to, such as John Kearon on ‘Digividuals’.
As for the usual suspects: happily there were none of those two-handers where a client says what their business problem was and then shuffles to one side while the researcher explains what they did to solve it. The speed and the consistency of the presentations online probably means that these case studies are not appropriate for webinar type presentations.
Over the course of our listening there were only two technical hitches, both of which involved local microphones and both of which were resolved by a nimble piece of rescheduling.
On the fringe, one meeting which attracted a lot of attention was ‘Clash of the Titans - Online vs In-Person Qualitative Research’ an online debate powered by BAQMaR. This was a lively discussion, well moderated by Joanna Chrzanowska. The speakers for and against the motion were passionate about the subject, but the result was, a bit predictably, a draw.
On the whole we would declare the Festival of NewMR a success, and we look forward to more conferences like this in future.
For more on the Festival of NewMR go to http://newmr.org .