Archive for February, 2016

2016 Oscars Recap: Chris Rocked

Posted on: February 29th, 2016 by doyle

From the desk of Alice Morgan


He nailed it. As I say every year, hosting the Oscars is a thankless job. Not only did Chris Rock triumph, delivering one of the best opening monologues in Oscar History, but he did so with a topic which – let’s face it – is tough. Taking on the topic of racism in Hollywood in a way that’s funny, makes the point, yet doesn’t completely alienate the audience? The man virtually split the atom.

chris rock oscarsShow-And-Tell
As usual, the Oscars were long. The tickertape of names at the bottom didn’t help. The text callouts describing the hosts didn’t help either. The biggest improvement from last year the conscious and mostly effective effort to explain the category being presented. Example 1: Cate Blanchett walking among costumes. Example 2: playing sound from the movies when introducing the sound categories – great idea! Example 3 (my fave): showing Andy Serkis recording his iconic parts in Lord of the Rings and Planet of the Apes – prior to his introducing the Visual Effects category.

Memorable Moments
Louis CK’s introduction to the Documentary Short Subject category was hilarious. Lady Gaga performed a moving tribute alongside survivors of sexual abuse. My favorite part was when Ennio Morricone won Original Score for “The Hateful Eight.” The legendary composer of the iconic Sergio Leone scores finally won. What a wonderful capstone.

The Oscars were less predictable than usual, yay. Mark Rylance scored an upset for Supporting Actor for Bridge of Spies. Mad Max won 6 Oscars which was unexpected and enjoyable. Best of all, I loved that Spotlight – a quiet, extraordinary film – won Best Picture. The showy, art-housey Revenant-like pictures almost always win. Not this year!

Back to Chris
Most of his bits worked. Loved the “Black History Month” homage to – Jack Black! Girl Scouts selling cookies to the glitterati? Sure. Favorite part other than the monolog was the “man on the street” interviews with African Americans outside the Multiplex about the fact that – guess what? – no one had heard of let alone seen most of the nominated films.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?
Which brings me to a short treatise on the State of the Industry and this whole lack of diversity brouhaha. Why is it that the movies biz remain mostly all white and largely all male? That no African-Americans were nominated this year isn’t surprising given that most movies are marketed squarely at young white males. So why is there so much diversity in the world of music and TV? I think it’s All About Distribution. 400 scripted TV shows were released last year, according to the New York Times. There are an ever-growing number of distribution venues, from network TV, to cable, to Amazon. When it comes to music, anyone can upload to YouTube. Movies, in contrast, are released at the (corporate-owned) multiplex, with usually no more than 20 playing at any one time. They are financed by a handful of deeply risk-averse (corporate-owned) studios. And because of this, movies are not diverse. Many of them are also not very good. I’m not an expert in the economics of making and distributing movies, but something’s gotta give. Movie-lovers – in all our fabulous, glorious, diversity – deserve better.

Virtually Face-to-Face: Best Practices for Conducting Webcam Interviews

Posted on: February 23rd, 2016 by doyle

From the desk of Natanya Rubin

Webcam interviews are a wonderful way to accomplish a national recruit, while saving time and money on travel and still allowing you to talk to your customer face to face. Having conducted 1000’s of webcam interviews, we’d like to share five best practices to ensure a smooth experience for all.

1) Eliminate potential problems from the outset. When recruiting a webcam study, we create a battery of screener questions designed to assess computer literacy and to find out what devices, operating systems, and Internet providers the respondvirtual face to faceent has at home or at work, wherever they will be interviewed.

2) Perform a live tech check. Rather than relying on respondents to self-check their technology prior to the interview, we insist that our platform partner perform a live tech check with respondents, to assess the respondent’s devices and troubleshoot any issues in advance. The technician also makes sure that the respondent’s space is set up correctly to allow the moderator and client viewers to see and hear the respondent clearly. Helping the respondent arrange his or her space to optimize viewing (sometimes it’s as simple as moving a lamp from behind the respondent’s head to in front of it) ensures that things run smoothly on the day of the research.

3) Keep bandwidth considerations in mind. Sometimes the needs of the research preclude the possibility of scheduling to avoid bandwidth heavy times and dates, but it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the Internet traffic in respondents’ markets, so that alternatives are available if there are slowdowns. Beware the “internet rush hour” of 7-9 PM especially, but slowdowns can sometimes occur starting as early as 3 PM in certain markets.

4) Get respondents online in advance. It’s important to queue respondents at least five to ten minutes in advance of their interview, so that any last minute problems can be addressed without eating into the interview time. That being said…

5) Over-recruit to save time and trouble. Online interviews do demand a comfortable over-recruit, so that the support team and moderator can be ready to move on in the case of last minute tech issues. Instead of losing valuable research time troubleshooting the inevitable odd problem that pops up on the day of the study, a sufficient over-recruit provides a margin of safety that can make all the difference.

By following these procedures, you can confidently take advantage of all of the benefits provided by online webcam interviews, knowing that you have done the advance work to ensure success on the day of the research!

Can Virtual Relationships Impact Research Quality?

Posted on: February 8th, 2016 by doyle

From the desk of Kathy Doylecomputer_internet_business_virtual_office_handshake_cloud_computing_300x250

Once upon a time, clients and research partners were on the road together – reviewing discussion guides and eating M&M’s in the back room, sharing the same flights and hotels, and eating many meals together. We really got to know each other, and many of us went on to become lifelong friends.   The relationships were strong, and the loyalty stronger.   And the insight gained about products, marketing challenges, office politics and research needs was invaluable and helped make the research conducted that much more relevant.

Today, client/researcher relationships often look very different.  With mobile and online research on the rise, project travel is minimal, and opportunities for forging relationships through back room conversations, shared restaurant meals, and while driving from interview to interview with maps in hand (seriously, did we ever do that?), have become more limited.   In some cases, we never meet face-to-face and even have to make a concerted effort to speak on the phone!

So how do clients and researchers build a relationship in this virtual age?

  1. Pick up the phone. It is so easy to default to correspondence via email and text.   But it’s remarkable how much better our study designs can be when we have the opportunity to actually speak to each other. There is more give and take, more sharing of ideas, and a significantly greater likelihood of getting to the core of the business need and true research objectives.
  2. Take to the road. Visit each other’s offices.  Look each other in the eye.  Admire the pictures of each other’s kids. Take a tour of the offices or the plant. These visits establish or strengthen relationships, and often lead to great conversations about challenges and industry trends that result in better research designs and recommendations.
  3. Hit the conference circuit. Most conferences these days have apps that allow you to see who is attending and set up times to connect.   Schedule coffee; a quick meeting in the exhibit hall; joint attendance at a session; or a meal or drink together at the end of the day.   All parties are out of the office and away from day-to-day distractions.   And the content of the conference provides a great opportunity to share what you’ve learned, and talk about how it might be applied to specific research challenges.

So don’t settle for a 100% virtual relationship.  Your projects will be the better for it.