February 25th, 2011

What price for anonymity?

Screen shot 2011-05-31 at 10.21.01 AM

In market research, a respondent’s anonymity is sacrosanct – to be protected with the utmost diligence. There are guidelines, rules and laws, all of which have been created to ensure that at no time will the personal details of a panel member, survey respondent or online community member ever be divulged. Sure, they are happy to tell us almost everything else about themselves if the question dictates this but as we say in the business ‘at no time will your responses be personally attributed to yourself’.

Online research has meant that the power of anonymity has grown, as no longer is there any physical contact with the collector of information. Surveys, communities and focus groups can all be undertaken online in the comfort of one’s anonymous surroundings.

The benefits of this increased level of anonymity are many. Respondents are happier to divulge information that previously they would have been unwilling to share with an interviewer. Things like medical conditions, financial standing to name just a couple of examples. Working with financial clients in the past where respondents were happy to talk about having to remortgage their house and living from pay check to pay check really proved to be an eye opener to the benefits of discussing these topics in an online environment compared to an open focus group session.

We expect people to be more open and honest in their opinions, which for market research is imperative in ensuring that the correct results and insights are delivered to a client. Honest opinions are both positive and negative of course. When the information tells us something that someone might not want to hear is where the problems lie.

Ben Elton’s latest TV offering ‘Live from Planet Earth’ received some poor reviews but it was the level of vitriol served up by ‘tweeters’ which got Ben and a number of media commentators quite wound up. Karl Quinn at theage.com.au was particularly incensed by the comments. It was the anonymous negative opinions being aired throughout the show which he called bullying. He quotes Matt Zoller Seitz in his article. “The protective force field of anonymity – or pseudonymity – brings out the worst in some people. They say things they would never say in the presence of flesh-and-blood human beings.” That may be true but as we’ve said, at least these opinions are honest and do not ‘sugar coat’ the truth.

It is not the anonymity of the tweeters which is the problem but the actual honesty of their opinions, (which is really what we want in the first place) that is upsetting Karl Quinn.

Twitter is now seen as an instantaneous, real-time yard stick to how a program is performing. If Ben Elton’s ‘Live from Planet Earth’ had been applauded and people loved it, would journalists have found the need to talk about how many tweeted their love for Ben Elton’s ‘best work ever’? Unlikely. Their honest anonymous opinions would have been seen as an indication of the triumphant creation of a brand new comedy hit but not something worthy of reporting.

Anonymity can help get the most out of a discussion when talking to someone and although honesty is crucial, when this honesty is not something that is particularly ‘rosy’ then this is just a fact that has to be lived with. Research is done for this very reason. If a new advertising campaign is terrible and never sees the light of day, it is because of the opinions and thoughts of focus groups, surveys and communities where these are first tested. If something rates poorly it is shelved. Just like Live from Planet Earth was in the end.

February 14th, 2011

Revolutionising Revolutions

by admin | Tags: | Category: Social Media

    cairo facebook

    I wonder when Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook he realised he would be contributing to the first revolution driven by social media. The events that unfolded in Egypt highlight the influence of online networking – uniting like-minded citizens to overcome physical barriers.

    Wael Ghonim is recognised to be one of the leaders of the Egyptian Revolution 2011. The word ‘leader’ here is used unconventionally, as his role was not in the public eye, but simply (or should I say powerfully) through his Tweets and Facebook page.

    A striking contrast of the online space for free protest was exposed to the Egyptian people, as opposed to the claustrophopic state of a suppressed nation. This contrast may have contributed to the citizens of Egypt becoming aware of the nature of their country and the values of democracy.

    In the online society every person has access to a voice, and subsequently, this poses a threat to organisations around the world, including governments. Recent history has demonstrated how social media can individually empower people to dramatically change the world in which they live.

    February 7th, 2011


    by Kerralie Shaw | Tags: | Category: Comment


      Have you had a drink this month?  Lots of us at Latitude have decided not to.

      Gearing up for a dry February, Latitude has registered for FebFast 2011. For the next 28 days we’ve agreed to abstain from our glasses of bubbles, wine, beer and other such beverages (lucky it’s the shortest month!).

      So what’s this all for?

      In addition to the health of our “wallets, waistlines and livers”, we’re raising funds to give young people with drug and alcohol related problems a second chance at life.

      Check it out at www.febfast.org.au- you can even sponsor us if you want to take up a good cause without having to forgo tonight’s bevvie!

      Ok, well I’m off home now for a refreshing lemon, lime and soda tonight!

      February 4th, 2011

      Skyping ahead of the rest

      by admin | Tags: , | Category: Social Media , Technology

        Skype yasi

        A first for Australian television, Channel 7’s live coverage of Cyclone Yasi via Skype kept the station ahead of the pack. Whilst other networks were travelling with the customary camera crew, Grant Denyer (Sunrise) lightened his load, by reporting live with an iPhone, Skype and a handheld camera.

        In the information age, breaking news has fallen into the hands of bloggers, tweeters and basically anyone with a social media account.  Journalists have to compete as much with ‘citizen journalists’ as those in their own profession. Our thirst for immediacy has gravitated us towards digital news consumption and many are predicting the death of the newspaper.

        Nevertheless, Channel 7’s approach illustrates how an industry can adapt with the new to continue delivering to their audiences.  A game changer, it won’t be surprising if we see a lot more of this on our screens in future.