Seeing things through the eyes of consumers

Mobile technology and fly-on-the-wall digital video research are proving to be a breakthrough in understanding the behaviour of previously difficult-to-reach consumers

For 50 years researchers have known that the research we do isn’t always the research we need. Results may take weeks or months. When we respond to surveys, we hold back or make ourselves look good or misremember. We know a lot about middle-class households in rich economies, but much less about how people work and live in the developing world.

Mobile and video technology is changing all this. For example, the idea of the vox pop isn’t new – companies send out a film crew to accost random consumers in the street. The cost and the time of editing the footage meant that results are expensive and may take weeks to reach the people who make decisions. But, because those people know next to nothing about the interviewees, the voices they hear are a poor basis for decision-making.

In contrast, when Channel 5 wants to do a vox pop, it asks members of the public who take its conventional surveys to use their webcams to do their own vox pops. Within 48 hours, those responses have been transcribed, analysed for sentiment, edited and delivered, ready for the weekly editorial meeting.

Tom Beasley, Channel 5’s viewer insight manager, uses the clips to support his traditional audience research, helping schedulers and commissioners to understand what’s behind the viewing figures. “We might be trapped in our own little bubble, so we want to get the opinion of the public,” he says. “Everyone in the meeting wants to find out what the viewers say, even if it’s not always what they want to hear.”

Previously, these opinions were gathered using surveys that contained what the researchers call “open text” – a box, usually at the end of a list of questions, in which you can say anything you want. Open text can be useful in the same way as vox pops are. Surveys often ask only about things the company thinks is important, completely missing the other important information about what we love and hate.

But, confronted with the survey equivalent of a blank sheet of paper, Channel 5’s viewers tend to freeze: “The viewers often give one-word answers, or say ‘it was good’ or ‘I didn’t like it’,” Mr Beasley says.

Dave Carruthers, founder and chief executive of Voxpopme, which provides Channel 5’s video surveys, as well as working with companies such as Barclays and Tesco, says: “We find that video interviews give six or eight times as much content as open text and we’re capturing emotion too. Seeing consumers saying things in their own words is far more compelling internally than statistics alone. It has the emotional value to go with the rational value of big data.”

Selfie vox pops also reach decision-makers more quickly. For example, Voxpopme uses crowdsourcing to transcribe the responses so they are searchable within ten minutes of being recorded. Digital video can be delivered and searched in hours, rather than waiting for a final edit. When interviewees are part of an existing panel, they can be selected by age or background.

When volunteers share their phone’s location data, researchers have an idea who has seen an advertisement, even a billboard, and can match it to their subsequent shopping behaviour with greater accuracy
When volunteers share their phone’s location data, researchers have an idea who has seen an advertisement, even a billboard, and can match it to their subsequent shopping behaviour with greater accuracy

The impact of AI

Nevertheless, in vox pops we’re still explaining how we feel. Realeyes, a company created by researchers into artificial intelligence (AI) at the University of Oxford, takes this a step further by using AI to watch our response and automatically measure our emotions when we watch advertising. Peter Haslett, director of customer development at Realeyes, says: “People are not good at pointing out ‘that works’ or ‘I am engaged’.”

Quantifying a response in this way has the advantage that it generates reportable numbers. So when volunteers watch advertisements for clients, such as Coca-Cola or adidas, the application automatically recognises fleeting facial expressions. It can spot which moments grab and retain audience attention, and creates scores that compare with a reference database of 8,000 advertisements to predict the engagement and emotional impact that drive sales.

Letting people do their own research using video and mobile is cheap enough that we are learning much more about how different types of communities live

Using a 300-person test, the company claims it can predict advertising that will have a high sales lift with 75 per cent accuracy and videos which will encourage high charity donations to an accuracy of 67 per cent.

Helping to research our unconscious emotions, or those we feel uncomfortable communicating out loud, are potential future applications for the technology that underpins Realeyes. “Detecting emotions could be used for medical research – how do we feel about what the doctor is saying? Or education – are students confused or inspired?” Mr Haslett explains.

Emerging market research methods

Putting people first

Letting people do their own research using video and mobile is also cheap enough that we are learning much more about how different types of communities live. By combining passive measurement, video and mobile technology, weseethrough has conducted research in the last 12 months in countries such as Ghana, Egypt, Brazil, Nigeria and Vietnam. “We are interested in collecting actual behaviour. We try to get people to record video for us for hours, even days,” says Duncan Roberts, weseethrough’s chief technology officer.

The company specialises in domestic subjects in difficult-to-reach locations and communities that researchers have been forced to ignore in the past. It has done this by asking volunteers to use Google Glass, the futuristic spectacles with cameras, which were a commercial failure, but great for ethnographic researchers.

The glasses film constantly and when a subject enters a room, or at particular times, Google Glass automatically asks them to talk about what they are doing and why. The resulting stream-of-consciousness videos have been a revelation in the head offices of clients including Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s and IKEA that have witnessed the everyday lives of customers through their own eyes.

Among the highlights was a Brazilian housewife who uses her husband’s toothbrush to scrub the shower, before replacing the toothbrush in the mug, or a Nigerian mother explaining that it’s difficult to open packaging while simultaneously cooking by torchlight and holding a baby.

According to Liam Corcoran, vice president of advertising and audience measurement at Research Now, many more of us will passively take part in research in the future thanks to mobile devices.

For example, for decades researchers such as Research Now have tried to evaluate how effective advertising is based on a guesstimate called “opportunities to see”, which relies on information we remember or report in diaries – which newspaper we read, which television programmes we watch, our route to work in the morning.

But when volunteers share their phone’s location data, researchers have a much better idea who has seen an advertisement, even a billboard, and can match it to their subsequent shopping behaviour with much greater accuracy.

At weseethrough, Mr Roberts speculates that in the future we might also be paid to share our mobile and video data with researchers, for example from home security video cameras. In his experience, when the goal of the project is explained clearly, subjects have been happy to share surprisingly intimate video logs of their personal lives. “We do an awful lot of censorship,” he adds.

Voxpopme launches new offline video capture solution for face-to-face research

Available for IOS and Android, ‘Voxpopme Offline’ enables researchers to record respondents in an interview style – capturing multiple video responses that can later be uploaded to the Voxpopme portal.

The company’s newest video capture solution can be seamlessly integrated into existing survey platforms, or used as a standalone tool, making it possible for fieldworkers or moderators to record video in-field without an internet connection or an expensive camera crew.

The flexibility of offline capture makes it perfect for intercept surveys and other video studies where connectivity could be problematic such as at events, in a retail locations and in developing markets.

Once back online, researchers can upload all their responses and additional data simultaneously before using Voxpopme’s platform features to analyse and share the most impactful insights in minutes.

Adam Heard, Director of Research, Data & Analytics Europe at Twitch commented:“We used a customised Twitch version of Voxpopme Offline app at Gamescom in Cologne and found it the perfect solution for capturing multiple video responses, on-location.  We felt in-the-moment feedback would be most honest, so being able to obtain this without worrying about connectivity or needing a camera crew made it the perfect tool for us.  It enabled us to build a deep understanding of our customers and bring their stories and experiences to life.”

Dave Carruthers, Founder & CEO at Voxpopme commented: “Video has always been powerful, but our aim is to ensure it is accessible any time, any place. Voxpopme Offline adds an important new tool to our suite of capture solutions, most importantly because we can now deliver video insights in developing markets where data collection is still done face-to-face with no connectivity.”

Voxpopme Partners with Lightspeed to Launch Video Answers

WARREN, NJ (January 17, 2017) – As more consumers embrace video capabilities, Lightspeed can now leverage this medium to gather more insightful input from survey research. Today, Lightspeed announces the global launch of Video Answers. Partnering with Voxpopme, Lightspeed offers clients the ability to capture and analyze video open-ends, at scale and in real time.

“There’s no doubt that video usage, globally, is growing by leaps and bounds; marketing research should capitalize on this trend to enrich the profile of consumer attitudes and behaviors through video,” stated Daniel S. Fitzgerald, Chief Client and Marketing Officer. “For many survey participants, the ability to provide a video answer enables an improved and convenient way to articulate their thoughts than is possible through closed-end questions or text boxes. We’re helping to create unique experiences for our panelists; it’s simple, easy to use and allows for spontaneous, honest answers. Our clients now have video dialogue directly from their targeted consumers.”

Empowering clients to quickly and easily capture open-ends
Video Answers brings new opportunities to both clients and panelists alike. Lightspeed’s latest offer will be available in two distinct tiers, basic and enhanced, and align the power of video together with its award-winning survey design and programming capabilities. Voxpopme brings to the collaboration an expansive platform built to capture, analyze and share video at scale.

“Our partnership with Voxpopme will allow us to enhance quantitative studies by adding this powerful new capability,” stated Frank Kelly, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing and Strategy. “The combination of Lightspeed’s world-class survey design and market penetration with Voxpopme’s groundbreaking platform will create a powerful new way to analyze consumer behavior.”

Capturing short videos within a survey liberates respondents from the inherent restrictions of survey design and elicit deeper consumer insights that can enhance quantitative research projects. These self-completed videos can be gathered quickly and efficiently. Lightspeed Video Answers offers:

  • Basic Video Capture: includes scripting by Lightspeed, incremental incentives, editing, and data storage
  • Enhanced Analysis through Voxpopme: includes basic video capture and album delivery, Voxpopme analysis and platform access, up to 12 simple activity tags and transcription

Lightspeed will be showcasing Video Answers at a series of upcoming events and conferences, including MIE, The Insights Show and IIEX Europe. To learn more about the company’s capabilities, visit or follow@LightspeedGMI on Twitter.

Voxpopme raises $1.5 million to become standard video solution for the research industry

Voxpopme, the leading video platform for Market Research and Voice of the Customer insight, today announced the completion of a $1.5 million growth funding round.  The investment will support the company’s next stage of growth and its intent to become the industry standard for video capture and analytics.

Existing shareholders and prominent UK angel investors have contributed to this funding round, led by Co-Founder of Research Now Andrew Cooper and former Research Now Chairman Geoff Westmore. Together, they bring a wealth of experience and expertise in the research field and a strong legacy of support for rapid growth start-ups.

‘We are excited to have the support of Andrew and Geoff. Their investment represents a strong vote of confidence in our belief that Voxpopme video will become a widely adopted medium across the research industry.  This investment marks the next stage of global growth for Voxpopme, and will support further our ambition to be the industry standard solution for anyone looking to add video capture with automated analytics to their surveys.’ said Dave Carruthers, CEO of VoxPopMe.

Voxpopme allows brands to add video questions into their surveys.  Customers can then record short selfie-style video responses on any device. Once captured, Voxpopme’s powerful analytics platform automatically illuminates key themes and unique insights within minutes, which can then be shared by clients in just a few clicks.

Andrew Cooper states “I am delighted to be involved in this exciting stage of growth of Voxpopme.  The platform enables the unarguably powerful medium of video customer insight to be brought into businesses in a rapid, robust and easily analysable way – at a fraction of the effort and cost of existing approaches.

Voxpopme brings the voice of the customer into businesses and their boardrooms in an impactful way that no decision maker can fail to understand – it is a brilliant approach to communicating insight.”

Voxpopme launches on-demand video research in Australia

Voxpopme, the leading video platform for Market Research and Voice of the Customer insight, today announced the launch of its on-demand video research app in Australia. The launch follows the successful expansion of Voxpopme’s full suite of services across the Asia-Pacific region and will allow Australian clients to join leading global brands including Cisco, Tesco and eBay already using the technology to truly understand customers and get behind the numbers.

The Voxpopme platform already enables Australian companies to add open-ended video questions into any survey, but the addition of the mobile app will provide access to fast turnaround video research from the company’s Australian community. Clients can now target this community to run video net promoter score campaigns, ad testing, ethnographies and more to capture short selfie-style video responses.

All responses will be instantly uploaded to the Voxpopme analytics platform, rapidly identifying key themes and unique insights from a large number of videos, which can then be built into edited showreels within the portal’s showreel generator.

Dave Carruthers, Voxpopme CEO commented: ‘It’s great to be launching our on-demand video feedback service in Australia. Many of our services including video integration into surveys and powerful analysis tools have been available globally for some time, but the opportunity to provide an instant feedback community for companies in Australia is an exciting new way to deliver powerful video insights to the region.”

Robert Fry, Voxpopme MD for APAC commented: “I’m delighted to be able to offer another Voxpopme service to researchers in Australia, particularly one that can turn around video research so quickly. We have found the market to be an early adopting one, not just for solutions such as ours that are proven already in the US/UK but pushing for the latest innovation. For that reason we are happy to offer a much wider array of fast-to-implement video diary, packaging optimisation, ethnographic studies, in store / at-the-aisle testimonials and we look forward to being challenged to further innovate for Australian client needs.”