Market research industry – get your act together

Market research industry is going through a phase of soul searching. There’s been a lot of “Will we still be relevant in 2/5/10 years time?” type of introspection at conferences, in LinkedIn groups, in blog posts.

Edward Appleton at the Warc Next Generation Research, January 2014
Edward Appleton at the Warc Next Generation Research touching on the topic

Being relatively new to the field I found this lack of confidence surprising. Consumer startup world where I come from has much more of a “let’s move fast, build stuff, break things along the way, learn and improve” attitude. The belief is that if you put client first, focus on a few things, and execute fast then eventually you will win.

Emergence of new approaches to market research – mobile, Big Data, neuromarketing, behavioural economics, wearable technology, predictive analytics etc – have shaken up an industry that is used to innovation at a slightly slower pace, I guess. In fact, some of these methodologies aren’t that new per se, they’ve simply now become feasible as technology has matured and become cheaper.

Nothing new under the sun

Reading Benedict Evan’s completely unrelated “Ignorance: the limits of knowledge” post during the weekend made me look for parallels with tech, media and telecoms businesses.

Keep readin’ →

This is what happens when I stop being a good blogger

I started my first blog back in 1999 (thank you Jason Kottke for the inspiration) but for the last 5 years have posted less and less for various reasons.

This is what happened in 2013 when I published just 12 posts. The screengrab from Google Analytics compares 2013 vs 2012 and if I went further back in history the trend would be very much the same over the years. web traffic, 2013 vs 2012

It’s also telling that only 2 of the 10 most popular articles in 2013 where actually posted in 2013. Good thing Google thinks highly of a few of my older posts.

What’s the lesson?

If you want to keep your site popular then…

  • Add fresh, high quality (or at least entertaining) content on a regular basis
  • Pick a niche – lack of focus means there’s no core audience, less circulation of traffic within the site
  • Promote your content, shamelessly
  • Pages not optimised for social sharing
  • Not exactly rocket science and comes down to committing to something. Always the hardest thing.

    Do blogs still matter?

    For me they do. When I look at where I get the most valuable content (both on topics relevant to my work or just on stuff that interest me outside of work) it’s 75% blogs. Sometimes personal, sometimes company owned.

    Social media is just the discovery engine, real valuable content is almost always on someone’s blog.

How to find out the most popular websites in a certain category?

Bunch of Minis somewhere in Spain

A buddy of mine asked me the following question:

I’m looking for the top automotive websites in Australia by unique visitors and any other metrics I can fathom. Can you help point me in the right direction?

Why sir, of course I can. In all honesty I’m no expert here but can share a handful of free and quick steps to collect a few data points.

Keep readin’ →

Ubiquitous surveillance state by Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwalds keynote from 30th Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg.

The goal of the NSA, and its Five Eyes partners in the English-speaking world: Canada, New Zealand, Australia and especially the UK, is to eliminate privacy globally. To ensure that there can be no human communications that occur electronically, that evades their surveillance network.

They want to make sure that all forms of human communication, by telephone or by Internet, and all online activities, are collected, monitored, stored, and analyzed by that agency, and by their allies. That means that to describe that is to describe a ubiquitous surveillance state.

The surveillance state, by its necessity, by its very existence, breeds conformity, because when human beings know that they’re always susceptible to being watched, even if they’re not always being watched, the choices that they make are far more constrained, are far more limited, cling far more closely to orthodoxy, than when they can act in the private realm.

Bye-bye 2013, hello 1984

Inspiration from Moz: rules for marketing

It’s hard not to be inspired by Moz and how Rand Fiskin runs his company. The openness, high quality marketing, transparency in almost every aspect of the company, the fanatic following this has built – I wish anything I ever did was that good.

Whenever I feel I’m in a rut a trip to their blog serves as inspiration. And I’ve occasionally been their paying customer as well so the whole thing works.

Rand’s recent presentation titled “8 Rules of Moz Marketing” is no exception. My initial reaction was to replace “marketers” with market researchers everywhere and adopt it whole sale for our company :) I didn’t but it serves as a starting point for something similar for our own internal use.

Annoying mini-banner ads – expect to see more of them

Oh the irony – an article about “annoying mini-banner ads” features said banner, not optimised for the retina screen and featuring something totally irrelevant to me. Let me count the things wrong here:

Annoying mobile banner

  • Banner quality – Low resolution, non-retina optimised. The ad network knows I’m using a modern iPhone, why it still allows bad quality images to be served is beyond me.
  • Ad itself – I have no idea what or where Norfolk Southern is but it sure as hell isn’t in the UK (where I live and was browsing).
  • The site – Confusion continues. What exactly am I being sold? “Pick a topic to start exploring”, seriously? WTF is the purpose of this site?
  • The site continued… – It’s not optimised for the mobile screen. Enough said.

Non-mobile optimised site

It’s the ultimate #firstworldproblem but it really rubs me the wrong way (as I work in the industry) that we can’t get it right. I guess the 90s aren’t over yet in the world of mobile advertising.

Jay Simons of Atlassian on treating sales like bugs

tl;dr – Remove friction from sales.

This video of Jay Simons explaining Atlassian sales model has been sitting in one of my browser tabs for a month now and I finally got the necessary kick to share it. The kick came courtesy of couple of Salesforce partners who shoved lead forms in my face when I tried to watch their demo videos on their home pages. Needless to say, I left the sites. No video, no lead.

Jay and Atlassian (we use their Jira and Confluence at On Device Research).

Well worth your time if you’re in B2B sales. Oh, and follow @jaysimons on Twitter.

Brand strategy in 15 minutes

For the lack of better bookmarking service I’m just posting it here.

Andrea Mallard’s talk to HackFwd teams back in 2010. Simple steps to create a brand strategy.

London Revolution 2013 – 180 miles done

Last weekend I participated in London Revolution – a 2 day cyclosportif that covers 180 miles / 288 kilometres and draws a large circle around London. Together with getting to start and cycling back home from the finish I covered a total of 360 km.

Up some steep hill

Sander asked to share some comments so here goes…

180 miles is long but doable with decent training. I didn’t have too much time to put into proper training but together with my daily commutes and some longer rides on the weekends over the last few months I was in OK shape.

I didn’t pay much attention to core body training/strength and suffered for it. On both days the total ride time was around 7 hours and my back got properly tired and started aching.

This being my first cycling event in the UK and the first sportif I wasn’t quite sure of the rules – will people ride in groups? Will they aim for good time or take it easy, stop at a pub, chill at the pit stops? Turns out it’s a very relaxed thing, they do both.

My previous data points are all from Estonia and from proper races so the amount of queueing came as a surprise – start was staggered so you had to wait for that. There was lots of queueing for snacks and water and loo at the pit stops too. Since I was riding alone I was keen on getting going again faster.

The riders, as always, were a great bunch, always up for a laugh. I guess cyclists (and people into sports in general) are the same world over :)

Box Hill view

Surrey is beautiful! I thought my usual tracks North of London were pretty good but Surrey is much nicer. Hillier but nicer still. Box Hill was a steady 4 km uphill but not a stupid steep angle (unlike couple of other shorter climbs where I got off the bike).

Drivers in the UK are pretty darn nice towards cyclists. Given the amount of bikes on the road that it must have been rather annoying to drive but I saw maybe only one car that was overtaking cyclists in a stupid way.

At the beginning of the race I was hoping for a bit more group riding, it’s so much more efficient and helps to go faster. Not sure why it didn’t happen, perhaps people train mainly alone or with their riding buddy and working as a small group, rotating and keeping a steady pace isn’t a habit. Still, I’m grateful for the times when I did get a break catching the wind behind some guys and girls.

Would I do it again? Not sure :) It’s good to know I can cycle that long distance but two days was enough. I don’t think I’d sign up for something like John O’Groats to Lands End ride but will probably get a few more one day events in in July. Sam over at LondonCyclist has a much better overview of the race: Riding the MITIE London Revolution

For anyone interested then my tracks are in Strava: Day 1, Day 2

Tallinn Music Week – 4 things for young bands and artists

Little known fact: For three not that enjoyable years I went to music school to learn to play an accordion. Only later did I realize I could have played in Gotan Project…

I can still play a bit (and read the notes, great skill when learning to sing new songs to Otto) – clearly that was the reason Helen Sildna invited me to join a panel on future business models in music at Tallinn Music Week :)

Joking aside, it was my background with Flattr, the microfinancing service that has/can be used by musicians, bands and artists to tap into fan funding that sat me down on the couch together with Peter Jenner, Dagfinn Back and Mark Meharry (Music Glue). I tried to represent the views of a listener and music fan.

Roughly speaking Peter Jenner was once again pitching his idea of a universal blanket license for music – everyone pays a small monthly fee and can consume all the music they want. Meanwhile little robots keep track of what you’re listening to, what gets played in various channels and compensates the authors respectively.

Dagfinn’s MusicDNA is a company that sort of helps that dream come alive but it’s only technology, the real roadblocks for Peter’s idea are the various players in the music business.

Mark and his MusicGlue has the most pragmatic approach to helping bands and artists make more money, he goes by the slogan (I’m paraphrasing here) “Give your music away for free and sold out shows will follow”. I can totally get behind that view despite not having been to a concert in a long time (that’s parenthood for you…).

1. Make your music available

It’s a no brainer but I’m still amazed at how much of the music is put online not by the bands or their managers but rather by random people uploading it to various services. Putting it up yourselves is the only way to control quality and what happens around the music/video itself – is there a link to bands homepage / iTunes account / other place to pay and download.

2. Make it easy to buy your music

One word – Bandcamp. I’m just a single data point but all my most recent music purchased have been made on Bandcamp. People don’t give a shit about geographic licensing – they want the music now. If you don’t make it easily available then there are other ways of getting your music, The Pirate Bay being the elephant in the room.

3. Use a platform where you get most of the money

Bandcamp. Self hosting and charging via PayPal. Bandcamp charges artist 15% of music sold which is about 100% better deal than going through a label or one of the popular streaming services (Spotify, Rdio, I’m looking at you). Self hosting + PayPal will eat up only around 5% of what you charge. Try “pay what you want”…

Read this for inspiration: Louis C.K. Video Inspires New Business Model For Comedians

4. Connect directly with your fans

I should really just write “Amanda Palmer” in this paragraph. I’ll do a bit more.

This isn’t a magic bullet but these are simple steps to make things better for the band and the fan. Cut out the middle men, make the fan happy.

Timely news: Brit musos now trouser more crumpled fivers from online music than radio