Virtual Reality & Qualitative Research: Fad or Here to Stay? 
18 Feb 2019

Written by: Pallavi Kalla 

Virtual Reality (VR) in the past was something of a whimsical idea, only thought to exist in Sci-Fi movies. However, today, virtual reality has started to become more accessible in the real world. Companies are implementing virtual reality in new creative ways, now more than ever.

Merrell, an outdoor footwear & apparel company, came up with a creative approach to implement virtual reality. The brand held a VR exhibition, in which they had people wear Oculus Rift headsets and walk along what Merrell called their Merrell Trailscape. People were put in a VR landscape of mountains and boulders, simulating a rigorous hiking experience with crumbling ledges and rickety wooden bridges, to help promote the company’s shoes. This experiment was Merrell’s first time using “walking around” virtual reality, which proved to be very intriguing for their audience.[1]

Other innovative methods that brands have employed the use of virtual reality: Six Flags debuted its first VR rollercoaster, in which riders wear Samsung Gear VR headsets on virtual fighter jets, offering consumers a unique experience.[2]

Marketing teams are not only utilizing virtual reality, but researchers have also found the technology as a new tool for qualitative research. Though focus groups are beneficial, we are just collecting information as the participants are sitting in the facility room. This is where VR comes into play, virtual reality can be used to understand the way customers behave when surrounded by the stimulus rather than just talking about it. The new technology allows participants it interact and respond to stimuli in a whole new light

Ethnographic research is another way that virtual reality has impacted market research. Ethnographic research is often costly, timely, and can feel intrusive to participants – as groups are typically conducted at a participant’s home or when they are shopping at a store. VR eliminates these barriers having the people interact in a virtual home or buy through a virtual store with a VR headset, and this way researchers can be capturing the person’s experience and insights in real time. Virtual reality will help researchers understand the consumer journey better without actually having the shopper gong to the physical store. 

Though virtual reality is still in the early stages, it looks like it is here to stay. Regarded as a useful market research device, with its endless new imaginative concept’s companies can create. VR has not only advanced and upped the way companies promote products but has helped market researchers in progressive and forward thinking when conducting qualitative research.

[1]“Merrell Thrills and Frightens People with a Crazy Oculus Rift Mountainside Hike,” Adweek. February 2015.

[2]“20 Innovative Ways Companies Are Using Virtual Reality,” October 2016.

Types Of Research Every Advertiser Should Know
08 May 2018
Are you involved in your company’s advertising campaign? Do you work at an advertising agency? If so, market research may be key to enhancing your advertising initiatives!

Below, we will discuss four popular market research methods that every advertiser should know and we will synopsize why businesses should consider using it.

  1. Target Audience & Segmentation Research
  2. Creative Testing & Concept Exploration
  3. Research for Content Marketing
  4. Brand Tracking


Target Audience & Segmentation Research

Who is your target audience? Who has the highest propensity to not only purchase your product or service but also have the highest Lifetime Value?

If you are launching a new product or just reevaluating your audience, it’s time to know which segment is most profitable.

It is also important to consider segmentation  – your marketing and advertising can’t speak to everyone all of the time – you may want to prioritize cohorts or use a segmentation to optimize your media and messaging.

Creative Testing & Concept Exploration

Are you launching a new advertising campaign? Prior to launch,  test your creative and concepts. This allows you to leverage your advertising and messaging to its fullest extent without having to learn from your mistakes. If you think you might need concept testing or optimization of creative research – we have two blogs on them here and here.

Research for Content Marketing

Research for content marketing makes your brand a thought leader by using research to get press placements. Bring your research to life by using it as a catalyst for B2B and B2C awareness, engagement, lead generation, and conversion. Tactics include online videos, infographics, sales materials, email marketing, thought leadership pieces, press releases, and guerrilla efforts.

Brand Tracking

Have your advertising initiatives made an impact? That is why it is pertinent to start tracking your marketing initiatives even before you launch a campaign. Once the advertising is launched, the desired outcome is campaign memorability, consideration, likely to use and recommend. This type of research also gauges how it is performing compared to your competitors.

For all of the reasons mentioned above, businesses should consider market research for their advertising and branding strategy it is one of the most effective methods to improve your ad campaigns ROI (return on investment).

What is Advertising Research?
14 Mar 2018

In the advertising and marketing industry, research is used to identify and define marketing problems. Research is often incorporated into the following aspects of the advertising process:

  • Industry or competitive analysis
  • Pitch process
  • Concept generation
  • Ad ideation
  • Consumer/target audience development
  • Segmentation
  • Ad pre-test
  • Ad post
  • Tracking the ad’s success
  • Branding initiatives
  • Content marketing
  • Thought leadership

Primary and secondary research are methodologies commonly used when evaluating advertising. Although this can seem like an unnecessary expense, it is far from it. As they say: “Failure to prepare is preparation for failure”. This upfront research cost allows your communications to be more targeted, set up for success, and ultimately drive more sales.

Primary research is research that is not already out there. There are two types of primary research: qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative research is directional in nature and used to garner ideas and insights. Traditionally, this type of research has been conducted at focus group facilities, over the phone, or even in one's home. However, new technologies such as online focus groups, bulletin boards and social research have brought this type of research into the digital space which allows the research to be timelier and more cost-effective. New technologies such as virtual reality are revolutionizing this type of research. 

In advertising, qualitative research is great for the initial feedback of campaign ideas, concept testing, and bringing a specific target segment to life.

Quantitative research derives conclusions about specific target populations through methods such as online or over-the-phone surveys. This number-oriented methodology reaches out to a large number of respondents in order to be statistically representative of a population. Quantitative research is often used for advertising tracking research, brand equity research, concept testing, consumer, and segmentation research.It helps you predict if your advertising campaign will be successful.  

Secondary research uses data that was not gathered for the current initiative but for some other previous purpose. You can commission a market research company to develop a customized secondary research report, purchase syndicated research, subscribe to research databases, or simply conduct a web search. Check out our article about free research databases. Often this type of research is beneficial to advertisers when better understanding trends and the competitive and industry landscape. It is also useful if you are looking to conduct an ad audit of your competitors.

Advertising research is typically conducted by research vendors and commissioned by either advertising agencies or in-house marketers. This allows for the research results to be unbiased and gives an accurate representation of where the brand or ad campaign stands.

2018 Trends: Advertising & Marketing Industry
27 Nov 2017
As 2018 approaches, advertisers and marketers are preparing for the new year, Provoke Insights is providing a comprehensive look at what to expect over the next 12 months.

In the last decade, the marketing industry has changed immensely from new technologies to more specialty advertising agencies. In-house marketers have pushed for more project based work and an ever-increasing number of consumers have cut-the-cord to their TVs.

How has this affected advertisers as well as in-house marketers? How has this impacted advertising and media budgets, as well as the longevity of the relationship between an ad agency and their clients? What advertising initiatives are marketers commissioning in today’s market? How satisfied are marketers with their job in this fast-evolving environment?

In 2014, only half of advertisers surveyed were very satisfied with the process. With the ever-increasing frequency of ad pitching, are agencies and clients still dissatisfied with this process? Are there areas that can be improved? What makes marketers most likely to select an advertising agency?

Provoke Insights, a brand strategy and market research firm, conducted a survey looking at both advertising and in-house marketers to best answer these questions. This extensive advertising survey among 736 respondents will help you plan the 2018 year right.

If you would like to learn more about the results of this research survey and receive the whitepaper of this research in December, just follow this link and it will be sent to you. Click here to learn more about other services Provoke Insights offers.

The Importance of Ad Tracking
01 Oct 2015
David Ogilvy, often referred to as the father of modern advertising, once said “advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals”. If your company is spending significant money on advertising, it is pertinent to conduct research to determine whether or not it’s working.  Ad-tracking is one of the favored methods used by brands today. If a company truly wants to optimize its advertising budget efficiently, it’s important to track and measure the response to its ads.  This analysis also lets a brand know if its advertising is becoming stale or over-exposed among its prospects.  

The first, and perhaps most important step in ad-tracking is to start your research before you actually launch your campaign.  In order to measure the success of a campaign, it’s advantageous to have an idea about your prospects’ awareness of your brand. If a company doesn’t start evaluating the reactions prior to the campaign, how will it be able to measure whether or not the campaign is increasing awareness?

Surveys are a standard method for tracking campaigns (i.e. commercials, print, digital, etc).  If a survey respondent can recall an advertisement or brand name unaided or without a prompt, it is a sign that the ad campaign may be increasing brand awareness. Once the respondent has answered questions aimed at gauging their unaided awareness of a brand, the survey can begin to focus on extracting information through prompts.  An example of such a question might be, “Which of the following brands are you familiar with?”

The goal of any advertising campaign is to raise awareness and change attitudes about a particular product or service. Therefore, additional questions that elicit opinions, attitudes, and purchase intent are useful in the ad-tracking process, telling us what’s working and what isn’t.

A successful ad is like a joke; the good ones may make us laugh or bring a smile to our face, but will eventually become stale and forgotten. And if an advertisement is the joke, ad-tracking can be seen as an honest friend, letting us know when to retire it and start working on some new material.

If you want to learn more about advertisement optimization, please check out this blog post here.

Five Tips For Getting Your Brand’s Social Media Right
10 Sep 2015

Social media has gone mainstream.  Consumers age 45-54 are the fastest growing segments on Facebook and Google+. Users age 55-64 are the quickest growing segment on Twitter.  No longer is it a playground to hopefully show your relevance to younger consumers.

Are you thinking about your brand’s social media strategy?  Here are five tips to getting social right!

  1. Consistent Brand Persona The content you post on social media should be aligned with your brand persona but more importantly should go beyond the benefits of your products to make it more relevant with your consumers and attract prospects.  In order to truly stand out, you need a social media strategy.
  2.  Inspire Your Audience Social sites are not the place to sell your product or services but instead a platform to let your audience establish a relationship with your brand. You want to inspire your audience to follow you by sharing your firm’s belief and motivation.  Apple does not claim to make the best products but instead builds its cult following by insisting that they “think different.” The message resonates with individuals who believe themselves unique or different despite the ubiquity of white earbuds.
  3. Mobile First Consider details such as the fact that 189 million Facebook users only access the site from mobile devices. It is in your best interest to adopt a mobile-first policy for content creation.  Ensure that your content displays well on mobile devices then adopt it for other screens.
  4. Beyond Facebook Social media is bigger than Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.  LinkedIn adds approximately two members per second.  Blogs and forums are viable places to establish thought leadership and frequently harbor influential early adopters. If you are planning on reaching Millennials then you need to consider video, as images are already passé. Cable networks don’t reach nearly as many adults aged 18-34 as does YouTube.  As well, combine that with the previously mentioned facts about mobile use.
  5. Measure! Measure!  Measure! The most important thing to know is your campaign goal and the metrics to assess your progress.  If you are focused on generating traffic, the measurement metric will differ from a firm primarily interested in engagement.
47% of Advertising Professionals Hate the Pitch Process
10 Sep 2015
Pitching is part of an advertising agency’s DNA; it is often mandatory if an agency wants to acquire new business. With the average length of the client relationship diminishing from eight years in 1997 to only three years today, pitching is occurring more frequently (ANA, 2012).  

However, according to a survey by Provoke Insights, approximately half (47%) of advertising professionals say they are dissatisfied with the current internal approach to pitching.The time, expense, and resources used during the pitch process is often extensive. 

“I hate the pitch process,” one account professional confessed, under anonymity. “It means working 24-7 and completely wears everyone out.” It is not shocking that the industry says unrealistic timelines (66%) and long work hours (65%) are key reasons for such frustration. The demand of pitching is not a new issue; management expects employees to give their sweat and tears.  Often weekends and nights would be devoted to winning new business.

Yet, can the harried pace of the pitch process be avoided? Surprisingly, employees believe these tiring work conditions can be prevented if better organization and processes were in place. “Very chaotic, no clear direction until the last minute,” a media analyst mentioned when recalling his most recent pitch.

Interestingly, those who are happy with their experiences when pitching mention teamwork as a key reason for their satisfaction. “Good collaboration and clear understanding of a common purpose,” an account executive indicated as success factors.

Another area of frustration during pitches is having timely access to the appropriate research and data. Forty-four percent of advertising professionals stated that if there were better availability of research and data, pitches would run smoother and more successful. More so, those who received data for pitches, 48% mentioned the speed of resources was not quick enough.

An agency has one shot to deliver the right message, so research and insights are imperative. Without them, no matter how innovative the creative is, the pitch could be off base. “Winning creative should be based on research and insights. However, many times it ends up being loosely based on not enough research causing the strategy to end up being lack luster,” a strategic planner stated.

As a result advertising research is crucial during the pitch process. Receiving extra support and resources in regards to understanding of the target audience (57%), competitive intelligence (53%) followed by trends analysis (53%), industry intelligence (47%) and social listening (42%) are key areas employees believe the pitch process can be more successful.

Provoke Insights conducted an online survey between November 8th – December 8th, 2013. The survey was promoted to advertising agency employees through targeted Facebook promoted posts and industry relevant LinkedIn groups; 140 advertising professionals completed the survey.

Advertising & the Millennials
09 Sep 2015
Millennials are the largest generation in the United States; no wonder brands want to capture this audience.  Unfortunately, this group’s disdain for traditional advertising (52% feel overwhelmed by the number of ads they see each day) make them a hard bunch to reach. Millennials demand authenticity and transparency, and take great pains to thoroughly research their brands. So how do we capture this demanding market?

Make them laugh

While Millennials detest traditional advertising, humor may help them pay more attention.  Eighty percent say they are more likely to remember an ad if it’s funny. Millennials appreciate a clever TV spot, or a little quirkiness, if it helps them identify with the brand.  If done well, the chuckles may even hit the millennial authenticity bone. As they say with humor – it’s funny because it’s true.

Make them believe you

Maybe humor doesn’t quite match your brand’s image; then your charge is to find a message or value proposition that speaks to the Millennials’ sense of altruism.

Millennials view themselves as responsible and compassionate, with 22% wanting to make a positive impact on their communities.  A socially conscious brand can win over this target if they can prove their claims. Half of Millennials read reviews before making a purchase and are very careful to investigate the brands they support.

Make them feel unique

Millennials want customizable products. With the help of social media, they have spent time curating their image; they want to continue this with the brands they use.

While a challenging segment to capture, Millennials are definitely worth the effort. A brand that can grab their attention, pass the ‘authenticity test’, or provide a customizable experience, has the potential to win long-term brand loyalists.

Reference: “Marketing to Millennials,” Mintel.  February 2015.