Category

Invoke Passion

Who the heck are these people?

By | Be Genuine, Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Take Risks

Last year I attended VidCon 2016 with my 9-year-old daughter Ella and wrote extensively about the weird and wonderful world of online video influencers. (Read last year’s posts here.) This year I went back with my now-10-year-old. (Congratulations to me for another year of parenting. Yes, I do think there should be awards for this.)

After last year’s VidCon, it took us 300 of the next 365 days to figure out what the heck we had just witnessed. This year we had a decent plan for success — to identify, connect and partner with influencers and their audience to help us grow our online research panel. (Our plan for VidCon 2018 is so good that if we told you about it, we would have to kill you.) What also helped us out this year is that we brought along Nicole, SoapBoxSample’s new sales and marketing admin. Rather than explain how strange it is to suddenly be surrounded by “celebrities” you’ve never heard of, but thousands of tweens are going crazy for, I thought I would let Nicole explain it for me. Also, if you ever go, definitely try the acai bowls.

Connecting with Social Media Influencers at VidCon 2017

This was my first time attending a conference with SoapBoxSample. I was beyond excited to go to VidCon and honestly didn’t know what the heck to expect. I was attending with the COO of the company, wanted to make sure I was on my P’s and Q’s but was going into it scared as sh*t, and having no idea what to expect.

Ok…leading up to VidCon I did lots of research on who is who and what is what, and how we might connect with these social media stars and YouTube sensations. I stalked these influencers for months prior to the event and set up some appointments with them via Twitter. Looking at VidCon’s website and reading recaps from previous years, you can see there are thousands of people there. But actually going there and seeing for yourself the thousands of people is a whole other level of crazy. And call me crazy, I actually loved it. I loved seeing the performers, eating the acai bowls, and looking up to see a YouTuber getting swarmed by adoring fans.

Our mission was to understand the digital landscape in general, and to connect with the Millennial and Gen Y audience, so we can help our clients figure out how to market to them. I wasn’t there to just “look,” I had to do some gorilla marketing too, pass out cards and try to get sign ups to our online research panel, MySoapBox. I’ve done this in the past so it should be easy breezy right? Negatory. You have to know how to approach someone; whether it’s a parent, a teen or an online influencer. After all this was said and done I had to send a recap to both of my bosses. Geeze, this part was hard. How the heck do I recap VidCon? That place is nuts! My recap is going to sound nuts. Oh well, I am a firm believer in being upfront, and with that sometimes comes blunt phrases that I wish I knew how to make sound more “business-like”.

Day 1 Thoughts

  1. What the hell is this?
  2. Who are these people?
  3. Where do I start passing out Join MySoapBox cards/what do I say to engage them?
  4. I’m so glad I wore tennis shoes!

Day 2 Impressions

  1. Ok, I am ready to get these cards out – finding more creative ways/things to say.
  2. This is pretty cool, I need a YouTube channel!
  3. There are so many people, and they love getting “stuff”.
  4. I need a FREE fidget spinner for James (my son.) I don’t understand why I’m fighting adults for these.

Random Thoughts as I Was Falling Asleep

  1. Should I keep Jacqueline away from the Dunkin’ Donuts lounge? Unlimited free coffee and a fanatical COO is either the best or worst combination ever.
  2. I never knew my job would involve learning how to pull my phone out and take a picture faster than a sharp shooter.
  3. How much time does Jacqueline’s daughter spend on social media to actually know who all of these people are and what they do? She’s a pretty active kid so that makes it all the more confusing.
  4. I wonder if there are new rules about swearing in front of your kids. Jacqueline does it a lot, and her daughter seems pretty unfazed.

By the end of the conference, I wanted my own YouTube channel with thousands of screaming tweens following me through the convention. lol. I connected with my boss on a level that was pretty amazing (I mean we share the same birthday so it will be that way regardless). I learned a lot, watched a lot and really enjoyed seeing the various levels of influencers try to connect with their audience. I think the most important take away from this conference was finding new ways to connect.

Not only was I learning how to connect with my boss, I was learning how to connect with our audience to understand and figure out the best ways to engage them. I am most excited to partner with online influencers and grow our panel to help our clients connect and engage with a notoriously hard to reach audience. After meeting with the ones we did, their personalities seem so fun they are about to become my new best friends and don’t even know it yet. Ha Ha!

27

By | Be Genuine, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others, Take Risks

“Hello ma’am, do you have access to the internet and would you like to take a survey?”

As a young, bootstrapped startup, SoapBoxSample is fortunate in that we can draw from the vast experience of our parent company ISA (Interviewing Service of America). ISA has been in the Market Research business for 35 years. It’s humbling to think of how many lives have grown and changed over the years. Children have been born and grown into adults and had children of their own in that time.

Some of the ISA people still question my unconventional leadership style, but I’m happy to say I’ve made genuine connections with a lot of them, including Gregg Stickeler, Senior VP of Client Services, who celebrates his 27-year anniversary with ISA today. He may not admit it, but I believe his initial feelings toward me were disdain. I also think he now has grown to like me, or at least tolerate me. When I asked Gregg to guest blog he took it seriously enough to do some extensive research, which is fitting considering all of his years of experience. Congrats Gregg!

27

For me, the number 27 is much more than just a random number. It holds quite a bit of significance in my life. Here are just a few fun facts about the number 27.

  • 27% of the Earth is land.
  • It takes 27 days for a human cell to re-grow.
  • The Moon orbits the Earth every 27 days and coincidentally, the Sun revolves on its axis in those same 27 days.
  • The total number of letters in both the Hebrew and Spanish alphabets is 27.
  • It is the atomic number of Cobalt.
  • There are 27 bones in the human hand.
  • It is my daughter’s lucky number.

And on June 27, 2017 I will be celebrating the 27th anniversary of becoming a member of the ISA team. Yes, 27 years ago a young Gregg Stickeler uprooted his life from the East Coast and started a new career and a new life in Van Nuys, California. And boy what this guy has seen.

When I started with ISA in 1990, we had just expanded from 48 telephone station seats to over 55. Well over half of these positons were equipped with a CRT (Cathode Ray Tube), in order to perform Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI – which on the East coast we pronounced Kay-Dee and on the West coast, Ka – Tee). The majority of the interviewing was done in English though we had a handful of bilingual Spanish interviewers and an on-call staff of Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese speaking interviewers. We ran a number of tracking studies as well as ad hoc studies. Usually up to five different projects would be running at any given time.

But we grew and so did I.

In the next few years we expanded to over 100 seats, all CATI, now crammed into three phone rooms (all at 16005 Sherman Way in Van Nuys, CA). I moved from Manager of Telephone Operations to Project Manager to Director of Client Services. Our Quality Control department was renamed Quality Assurance and Interviewers were now dubbed Data Collectors. And we added a Focus Group Facility named Creative Data.

And the years passed. I was promoted to Vice President and my future wife (which I did not realize at the time) joined the company. We expanded our phone capacity by nearly 60 seats, opening a facility in Alhambra (just outside Pasadena with a large Asian population – at this point we were doing over 25% of our studies in a language other than English). Lopy Williams, who had served as my right hand in the phone room, opened that facility and quickly proved we can expand, without problems, beyond the walls of our Van Nuys Headquarters (yes, we were a Headquarters!).

But according to the normal ebb and flow of life, you’re up one minute and down the next. Soon after ISA’s expansion my father passed away.

As the seams were bursting in our office (we had taken over additional office space and were at 150 seats in Van Nuys), we moved a few miles east to 15400 Sherman Way, 4th Floor, the location we still occupy to this day. Our entire headquarters phone room was now in one area, sporting almost 200 stations. Our next great challenge, Y2K. The year 2000 was quickly coming upon us and it was time to convert all the data we had (study and internal) to comply with the new century. Months were spent rewriting software, reevaluating data, and figuring out how to put all the pieces together. Thankfully, I was nowhere near this issue. The phone work continued to expand and I was heavily involved in staffing and scheduling and client interaction. In 1999, that was the easy part of the work.

And time marches on. We made it through the Y2K conversion fairly unscathed, our phone work continued to grow, and we were again looking to expand. We opened a 75-seat facility in Lancaster, CA. (I was kind of hoping for Pennsylvania as it would have given me a chance to get some shoo fly pie).

Creative Data, our focus group facility, became Qualitative Insights (and eventually Q-insights), I got married and we had a son, named after my Dad.

And suddenly there was a buzz about doing surveys online. Yep, actually hoping enough people were on the world wide web to get enough surveys done that way instead of using phones. And we toyed with the idea. Around this time I received the title of Senior Vice President. My daughter was born.

Our ability to do surveys online was added to our product mix, my Mom passed away, and then, on my 54th birthday (oddly 27 times two), we launched SoapBoxSample, our division specializing in online sample.

During the first few days of SoapBox’s existence, I remember thinking to myself, “Why is Amy Poehler in our office, and can she keep it down?” I thought it was cool that ISA was entering the age of internet research in 2013.

Three years later, we added icanmakeitbetter, an insight community platform. Once I learned to stop calling it “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter,” I really got excited about the platform when I figured out that it was another way I could share photos of myself wearing outlandish costumes with my co-workers.

It’s been an interesting 27 years. So many things have happened in my professional and personal lives which have remained intertwined since I walked into the lobby at my new company that Wednesday. (I can’t believe I was three minutes late, but I was only living in California for two days and was still getting used to the traffic). I have found new friends and lost a few of them along the way. You can read more about my personal and professional adventures on my blog, stickeler.blogspot.com.

Gamers Under the Microscope

By | Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

You’ve heard of student exchange programs, but what about a blogger exchange? Turns out the Market Research industry is full of interesting people with interesting things to say…

My friends at Research For Good not only write a bookmark-worthy blog, they also make a donation for every survey completed to end global hunger. So definitely check them out.

This piece by Ashley McAllister looks at the “Gamer” audience and how people who meet the technical definition of a “Gamer” (one who plays video games) are still reluctant to self-identify as a “Gamer.” As researchers, our job is to connect with (and understand) all types of audiences, and this is a great explanation of the cultural reasons why people are hesitant to claim themselves to be part of a group.

Gamers Under the Microscope

By Ashley McAllister

The definition of a gamer is something that has long been under the proverbial microscope. It’s a label that carries a bit of stigma so we asked a few colleagues what sort of persona comes to mind when they hear the word “Gamers”. Most of them said the same thing (nerd). The comments we received were not an anomaly, here are two articles which talk about the gamer stereotype.

Both of the articles above examine the way that the traditional idea of a gamer is one of the past. Case in point, in a recent study completed by Pew Research they found that around half of America play video games, but only 10% identify as a gamer. So why is there still such a big drop off of people who openly identify as gamers?

A study printed in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication suggests that today’s reluctance to identify as a gamer is down to game players feeling they still don’t meet the cultural and social predeterminations that have been sets. These include:

  • Playing certain types of games/owning a certain console
  • Spending certain amount of hours playing a week
  • Socialising about your gaming hobby

As Market Researchers we need to understand who our gamers are to be sure we don’t isolate all those who play games. For us, our definition of a gamer evolves as the industry grows – or as JCMC’s study puts it: “[the] gamer identity is for a significant part dependent on how being a gamer is socially constructed in a cultural context.”

So who is today’s gamer? We’re here to help you find out.

In our ALL NEW Gamers info sheet we’ve highlighted some statistics from our sample looking at who is really playing Console/PC/Handheld games.

This article was originally posted on the Research For Good blog.

Lessons From a Lunatic

By | Be Genuine, Be Honest, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

Why Your Office Should Be a Pet-Free Zone

It’s Toss it Back Tuesday — which just happens to fall on Teacher Appreciation Day. There’s a reason why we have Teacher Appreciation Day, and not Teacher’s Pet Appreciation Day. I wrote a blog last year about why teacher’s pets make me insane. As a business leader, I need honesty and authentic responses from my team. And like any good teacher, I know some lessons are worth recapping. Also, I needed an excuse to share my fifth grade report card with you. Ever wonder what type of student I was? It’s not always the “good” kids who succeed. Sometimes it’s the ones with bad handwriting who need to “work on self-control”.

Save Your Apple — No Teacher’s Pets Here

What I love: positive people. What I hate: insincere people. If you agree with everything I say, eventually I’m going to catch on that you’re telling me what I want to hear instead of what you really think. Your ideas and opinions have value, but not if you don’t share them. Saying yes to everything just makes you a robot. I prefer to work with humans. Until robots are better than humans – maybe then I will like them as much as humans.

I need people around me to push back. I need input. I am not always right. In fact, I love to be wrong as that means someone either 1) came up with a great idea or 2) saved me from a bad idea. If I knew all the answers, I wouldn’t be working at a Market Research Company (I can think of about 5 people who just read this and gasped – get over it. It is true).

Be a disruptor. If you are in first grade, this may not be the best advice. As a matter of fact, when I went to my daughter’s first grade open house, her teachers told me she was a lovely, smart girl. The teacher said she had no doubt Antonella would be President one day. As I was smiling with pride, the teacher quickly added “But she is not the President of my first grade class and we need to work on it.” I then smiled bigger.

Advice of the day: Say what you really think. Even if you think it may not be well received. I challenge you to do so. The people I admire most know how to disagree without being an annoying ass. I get so jazzed when someone pushes back, states their position and makes a compelling case for me to change – that is what makes a good day.
So as long as you are not in elementary school – go for it. Disrupt, disagree, drive change.

Not All People Suck

By | Be Genuine, Create Value, Invoke Passion

MySoapBox Members Have Heart

In my first few weeks at ISA (before SoapBoxSample had even launched), I spent a lot of time in this small, somewhat dark office by myself trying to figure out what the heck I had gotten myself into. Launching an Online Research company from the ground up was complex.

The first week or so, I was in a panic. I wasn’t sure where to start or what to do first. There were a million things I needed to do, and had figured one of those out (after figuring out where to park my car and go to the restroom of course). I knew I wanted to create a company that fostered relationships.  One with a great culture that extended out to our clients AND our respondents.

The Telltale Ten and The Five Respondent Promises were pretty much the first thing that was” decided” on. The MySoapBox respondent promises are:

  • Your Choice
  • Your Rewards
  • Your Decisions
  • Your Impact
  • Your SoapBox

We are SUPER serious about fulfilling these promises to our members. We decided it would be super cool to have the MySoapBox panel members, submit the charity of their choice they would like us to donate to. We publish the names of three charities each month to the members, then throughout the month every single member can vote for the charity they want to receive the donation. The charity with the most votes, gets the check.

I love the members’ stories about why they are passionate around their chosen cause when submitting for consideration. I love the excitement when their charity gets picked. I love the letters the charities send us when they receive the donation. I love that people want to give back and this is a way for us to help them do so. I also love that this one small act, actually fulfills all five of our respondent promises.

There is a side benefit too. We find out what our panelists’ interests are and learn about causes we might not otherwise have known about. It helps us build a personal connection with our members. It helps build mutual trust and respect. I love that stuff.

Curious the types of charities our members have voted on? Well here is the list of all the winning charities since the launch of the MySoapBoxPanel. (Click the links to learn more.)

2017

The Humane Farming Association

Avery’s Angels Gastroschisis Foundation

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

2016

Children’s Swedish Hospital

Child-Soldiers.org

CARE

Arizona Basset Hound Rescue

DFW Pug Rescue Club

Heading Home

Shaam Relief Foundation

Center for Biological Diversity

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Epilespsy Foundation

Honor Flight Network

Mitzvah Circle Foundation

2015

Disabled American Veterans

First Book

Jake Koenigsdorf Foundation

Smile Train

Feed the Children

Covenant House

Autism Speaks

Islamic Relief Canada

Adopt Together

Operation Family Fund

United Methodist Committee on Relief

National Fibromyalgia Foundation

2014

Humane Farming Association

Ever After Mustang Rescue

Kidd’s Kidds

Children’s Hope Chest

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Doctors Without Borders

Growl Animal Rescue

Samaritan’s Purse

Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America

United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation

National Down Syndrome Society

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

2013

Compassion International

The Humane Society

Free the Slaves

Samaritan’s Purse

World Food Program

Global Rescue for One

Keeper of the Wild

Community Tampa Bay

Women Speak for Themselves

Best Friends Animal Society

American Diabetes Association

The Smile Train

2012

Care to Learn

Wounded Warrior Project

Bags4Kids

 

 

 

Lessons From a Ten Year Old

By | Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

Don’t Raise Your Kid to Be an A$$

About two months ago my ten-year-old daughter was waiting on pins and needles to find out if she made pre-team at gymnastics. She wanted it so badly and was totally obsessed. We had no clue how she would fit it in with her other activities, but she was certain this was THE most important thing…like ever.

Finally, the news came. It turned out to be the best news ever. Well, from my perspective, not hers. She didn’t make the team. She was going to miss practice the day the coach was giving out the news and had to ask in advance. She wanted us to ask for her. There was no way we were going to do that. She timidly approached her coach (who is a total hard ass) and squeaked out, “Did I make it?” Her coach said no, and then proceeded to tell her what she needed to work on.

When she got home that night, she disappeared upstairs. My husband and I decided to go up and talk to her. We started to feel badly we made her go to the coach on her own, and started to second guess whether we were too strict with her. We walked up the stairs expecting to find her crying or otherwise sadly engrossed in some YouTube video. When we got up the stairs, we found her in the gym – practicing her strength and the skills her coach told her she needed to work on.

It was at that moment, I knew that her failure was absolutely the best thing that could have happened.

She then asked us to start taking her to more classes. She started taking two tumbling classes a week, an intermediate girls class and going to open gym for two hours on the weekends. She was incessantly handstanding all over the place. She did all the strength and core work at home. She would leave for school at 8 am and some days not get home until 8:30 pm. At that moment of failure she had a choice; quit, settle to just take classes, or work her a** off at something she was not naturally good at.

The week after she didn’t make team, I was at a business dinner and shared how happy I was she didn’t make the team. Another mother at the table looked at me like I was the worst mother ever – I didn’t care. She was seemingly appalled by my celebratory reaction to Antonella’s failure. Kids need to learn that they don’t get everything they want. Life is full of disappointments. You have to work (hard) for things you want and even when you do, you may not get them. They also need to learn that without failure, you don’t succeed.

Fast forward to last Monday night. Ella was working late after tumbling class on her back handspring and some other skills. We were the last to leave the gym around 8:45 pm. Late night for a 5th grader. She got home from gymnastics the next day and I happened to meet her in the garage as she got home – ready with my usual mom prodding about school, her friends, practice etc. She smiled coyly and looked down at the ground. She then told me Coach Brooke asked her to stay after. That’s when the coach told her she made pre-team. She had no idea. I had no idea. Her hard work had paid off. Her coach took notice. Antonella had EARNED her spot. It wasn’t given to her. Her coach followed up the good news with, “I only want kids who work hard. If you stop working hard, you will be removed from pre- team. If you keep working hard, you may actually make it from pre-team to team. Your work is just starting.”

In life we fail, in order to succeed, to keep working harder. Many adults haven’t figured this out yet. I am so inspired by Antonella. She makes me proud. I may also succeed at one of my life goals which is to not raise an a$$hole.

Why I Love Infographics

By | Be Genuine, Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion

In the early days of SoapBox, like a lot of startups, we had a tiny marketing budget. By being selective with our dollars and as persistent as cockroaches, (yes, someone called me a cockroach – although not the worst thing I have been called), we managed to carve out a name for ourselves. You can read more about our early marketing efforts here.

Although we’ve grown as a company, I still love behaving like a scrappy, nimble startup (plus, we still don’t have much budget). That’s one of the reasons why I love using infographics as a marketing tool. Yes, and…infographics are:

Identifiable: Infographics help to convey your brand personality— using colors, images, and a quirky design. Visual storytelling leaves a lasting impression on your clients.

Digestable: They provide a large amount of information in easy to consume, bite-sized pieces. Not everyone has time to sit down and read a 10 page white paper? I always mean to, but it often gets pushed aside.

Shareable: They are spreadable – maybe they even go viral. People are always looking for something to spice up their social media pages.

Valuable: The infographic I’m sharing today helps marketers understand how people search for the things they want to buy. And it gives clients an insight into how SoapBox uses data to reveal these insights.

And they just make me happy.

You can download your own copy of the Digital Path to Purchase here.

Amy Poehler — Improv Comic or Sales Guru?

By | Be Genuine, Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

Can you guess which one is me?

The Not-So-Obvious Characteristics a Sales Person Should Have

Do you know who you look like? Yes, and 4,000 other people have told me the same thing. I might be as funny as Amy Poehler, I’m definitely not as rich as her. But she’s pretty cool, so I’ll take it. But what does this have to do with sales?

Amy Poehler  began her career doing improv. Any improv fans could tell you about the “Yes, and” tool of improv. The “yes” essentially represents the acceptance of the person’s idea, while the “and” encourages a continual line of thinking. When it comes to assessing sales people, we need to continue the line of thinking, and investigate a little further.

I have probably read like 10 zillion articles on sales with a good percentage of them being about hiring good sales people, identifying good sales people, or how to be a good sales person. You can find lists of successful sales people’s characteristics ad nauseam. I find myself in a constant state of eye rolling, as while I often agree with some of the fundamentals, I always seem to be thinking “sure, but…”, I mean “yes, and…”.

So is there a a lot info out there on what makes a great salesperson great? Yes, and…

Sales people must know the products and services they are selling.

Yes, and….they also need to ask good questions of prospects and clients. Asking clients about their business, about their pain and about their need to solve the problem (and who else cares about it in the organization) allows the sales person to talk to them about the products and services that make the most sense. There is nothing worse than a sales person blabbing on and on about a product or service that is totally irrelevant to the client’s need.

Sales people need to be independent.

Yes, and…. they also need to ask for help and input from others. Despite how successful a sales person is, thought partnership from a colleague or boss can be invaluable and is often overlooked. The least attention typically gets paid to the highest performer which is not always fair. Brainstorming on how to tackle client issues and objective points of view may be just what is needed to close the deal.

Sales people need to be smart.

Yes, and…they need to be likable. People buy from people they like. You can be super smart, know EVERYTHING about your business and your client’s business, but if you aren’t able to get people to like you in short order, you are going to have a hard time.

Sales people need to be aggressive.

Yes, and…they need to be genuine. Often times in sales situations the “seller” forgets they are human – or worse, forgets the prospect is human.

Mind blown? There’s more. Next week I’ll be sharing the other half of my list — the not-so-obvious characteristics a salesperson should have.

Telltale Ten Does Tech

By | Be Clear, Be Honest, Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion

If you read my Telltale Ten regularly, you know that I like to write about a bunch of random things like buying travel accessories at the Dollar Store, or how to assess personality traits. I rarely write about topics specific to the Market Research industry. So you might be surprised to learn that I actually do know a bit about Market Research, the industry as a whole and what we are doing at SoapBox to stay ahead of disruption. The super cool people at Wakoopa (who also seem to know a thing or two) invited me to be interviewed as a part of their blog series called Behavioral Data Barometer. If behavioral data is what gets you excited, definitely check it out. If it is not what gets you excited, read it anyway and maybe you will find yourself excited (or confused – it could go either way).

What made you decide to go into passive metering?

When SoapBox launched at the very end of 2012, it was seemingly the most ridiculous time to enter the “online sample” space. The market was saturated and companies were fighting to sell $2 sample. We saw a unique opportunity to stay focused on the evolution of research, the convergence of technology and the changing behavior of consumers.

Passive metering has actually been around a lot longer than most researchers know. There were some forward-thinking early adopters, and then lots of chatter. Researchers tend to be slow to adopt new technology, but in this case, it was not only the technology (which has since caught up), but also the data. Researchers and marketers have a great appetite for understanding how people behave and make decisions online. Brands want to understand their audiences beyond demographic and attitudinal data; passive tracking data fills this need by showing how consumers move across the digital world with step-by-step interactions. Connecting actual digital behavioral data with demographic/attitudinal data, results in the high-depth, actionable insights clients want.

We recognized the benefit of contributing to the rise, understanding, adoption, shaping of best practices of passive metering. We were lucky to partner with a forward-thinking client who was ready to take risks and experiment, almost immediately following the launch of SoapBox. That experience really propelled us into passive metering and we are continuing to evolve.

How has SoapBoxSample incorporated ‘My Soapbox Meter’ in its panel model? How did it help/change your position as a panel provider?

We have a two-pronged approach. We do a lot of custom recruitment for our clients. They are typically looking for a very specific audience and want to meter them for a designated period of time. Sometimes, they are looking for passive data alone, and other times they want to incorporate methodologies like surveys or diaries. We also recognize clients’ desire for look-back data which was initially the driver for building our existing metering panel. The metering panel also helps with profiling, targeting and a host of other advantages – some of which we are still uncovering.

Where do you see the most valuable use cases of behavioral data?

There are two key areas we focus on with clients. The first is gathering a 360-degree view of the consumer journey. By gathering consumer behavior (as opposed to relying solely on recall) we can see the influence certain types of sites and apps (social media, review sites, coupon sites, etc.) have on the path to purchase. This helps our clients intercept their audiences with the right message at the right time. The second use case we focus on is building digital profiles of our clients’ target audiences. By understanding how certain segments use websites, apps, and search terms our clients can optimize their media spend to reach their target audiences at an improved ROI.

What do you see as the main challenges when dealing with behavioral data?

One of the major challenges about passive metering data is that there is a ton of it and it is totally unstructured. Some of that data is incredibly valuable and relevant to the research objective and some of it isn’t. It takes time, experimentation and the willingness to dive into the unknown to find the connections between seemingly unrelated data points. The idea is to help brands understand their customers by taking millions of tiny details that, when seen as a whole, paint a vivid picture of their customers and their underlying motivations.

Another challenge we deal with regularly, is that most often the clients asking for “metering” data don’t understand the methodology yet and often try to make it fit where it doesn’t, or assume it is the Holy Grail of research data that can answer any and all questions about what people are doing online and on their devices. This is a struggle as there is really no checklist for what metering can/cannot do. Well, there are some checklists on what it can’t do, but the newness, combined with the complexity is a brand new challenge. Clients have to work in partnership with their providers, take risks and be willing to delve into the unknowns to get the magic nugget of information.

How will the growing importance of mobile affect passive measurement?

Opportunities for brands to connect with people, and for people to connect with brands increase as we spend more time on our mobile devices, and we have more devices in our hands. Each item (computer, phone, tablet, wearable) offers researchers another window into people’s online lives. Passive metering is the most effective way to find out what people are doing without disrupting the process, and I believe it will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

How will passive metering influence sampling, data collection and surveying?

I think the research industry is beginning to recognize the value of passive data collection. What remains to be seen is to what extent passive data will replace traditional surveys, how often it will be used in conjunction with traditional surveys, and how data integrations from a variety of sources (survey, transactional, customer, 3rd party, passive) will be leveraged. At SoapBox, we’ve had a lot of success with blending methodologies to create innovative solutions to help answer client’s business questions.

For me, the most unexpected (and potentially disruptive) shift I am seeing is that sample providers, and/or data collection providers in general, are moving away from being order takers of pre-determined research approaches by full service agencies or end users/brands, and now have a seat at the table in designing and contributing to the research approach. It is super exciting to see collaboration from the start of a project to the end.

Is there any advice you would give the market research industry?

My advice would be to stay as lean and nimble as possible. Now is the time to dive in and start even though things aren’t all “figured out” yet. Those who wait and watch, will be passed over. With the coming advances in AI and Machine Learning, the market research industry will certainly be faced with major disruptions — more than we think, and earlier than we expect. We all need to hone our adaptation skills to survive in this business environment. I say learn how to anticipate the ever-changing needs of the industry and be ready to pivot at a moment’s notice.

I Know Something You Don’t Know. Wanna Know?

By | Be Genuine, Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

Bet you didn’t know…Sam Ashburner, one of SoapBox’s Project Managers, once worked at The Price is Right. His job was to warm up the crowd.

Get to Know Your Staff — They May Surprise You

Some people like to keep their personal lives and professional lives completely separate. I don’t really get those people. One of the things I enjoy most about being a business leader is getting to know my employees on a personal level. I’m super lucky to work with such an amazing group of people. Learning what makes them tick has been half of the fun. Although sometimes the things I uncover leave me shaking my head, these are totally worth sharing. Here are the Top Ten Most “Interesting” Facts I know about my staff…

  1. Aaron Cole, SoapBoxSample Director of Systems and Programming, spent 2 months traveling around in Japan. When he ran out of money, he survived by eating out of dumpsters. This was before he started working at SoapBox, and I’m happy to say that we pay him enough to buy food.
  2. Sam Ashburner, Project Manager, once worked on the TV show The Price is Right. His job was to warm up the crowd. (Pictured above. Look how warm that crowd is.)
  3. Kevin Moran, who does our panel support, practices fencing (sword-fighting) in his free time. In fact, he and his wife do it together. Makes me wonder if that’s how they settle arguments.
  4. Dan Parcon, who has been with SoapBox from the very beginning, has a weird talent for running into celebrities. The biggest star he ran into was Brad Pitt. They shared an elevator in 1996, but Dan didn’t say anything to him.
  5. Nicole Restivo, our Sales and Marketing Admin, appeared in the music video for the 2004 mega-hit “Hey Ya,” by Outkast. She shook it like a Polaroid picture.
  6. If you ever want to torture Kristin Muir, Junior Project Manager, act like you are going to touch your eye. It freaks her out.
  7. This one is not so much weird, as it is impressive. Bruce Tate, Chief Technology Officer at icanmakeitbetter, has written 10 books. All of them are about computer technology, otherwise known as Things I Don’t Understand.
  8. Meg Ryan, SoapBoxSample Senior Account Executive, collects political buttons.
  9. Andrea Spiros, Project Manager, likes to drizzle ketchup and mayonnaise on her pizza. Some people get very disturbed by this.
  10. At the age of 6, Kealan Crowley, Estimator and Vendor Relations Associate, appeared on The Jay Leno Show with his First Grade class. He wowed the audience by playing the slide whistle.

I could probably come up with a hundred of these quirky tidbits. I love knowing entertaining things about my staff, and sharing them with the world (through this blog) makes it even more entertaining.