AMSRS conference: Humour, optimism and solid case-studies – Betty Adamou

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Guest Post by Betty Adamou of Research Through Gaming, who was a keynote speaker at this year’s AMSRS Conference in Melbourne.

Let’s face it, Market Research conferences aren’t a place we normally associate with a few laughs (from the stage, it’s different off stage!), but not only did the AMSRS provide delegates with two comedians (one of which was a Market Researcher) but we also had presenters using humour to make some valid points.

These giggle-inducing moments were in the opening talks; Tom Ewing of BrainJuicer keynoted about Reasons to be Cheerful with his ever-present-on-Twitter co-presenter buddy ‘Old Man CrossTabs’ (@OldSchoolMRX on Twitter, if you’re interested in following) who would chime in every now and then during Toms talk with some words of wisdom, but was used to provide a stark contrast between the expectations of ‘Old MR’ (personified by Old Man CrossTabs) and ‘New MR’, brought to life through BrainJuicer case-studies and examples.

The next talk included a flying lettuce through the slides, meant to highlight to power of subliminal messaging and subconscious decisions. Interestingly, the presentation which included a flying lettuce in Leigh Caldwell’s talk didn’t make me want to choose lettuce for lunch, but did act as a trigger so that when I saw lettuce, I thought of Leigh’s talk, and subsequently, the Irrational Agency (where Leigh is a partner).

One of the stand-out presentations for me was by Daniel Bluzer-Fry presenting a case-study carried out with Betfair using mobile and, for the first time, focussed on user experience. However, this wasn’t testing the respondents’ experience of the mobile research methodology, no, it was to improve the experience users had of the BetFair mobile site, however the logic behind user centred design resonates strongly with why design is so important in research applications, be it online surveys, mobile surveys or online communities. During the panel discussion, I referenced this talk as a highlight and why savvy design-thinking for surveys is so important.

Conference talks aside, we were all absolutely spoiled in a perfectly paced conference program; as a delegate, I had enough time to hear the details I needed to calm my curiosity in all talks, without feeling rushed about.

And I know all conference committees care about their conference program and speakers, but the AMSRS had clearly placed a huge amount of effort into ensuring that varied, relevant, innovative and robust talks where chosen for presentation over the two days.

The other highlights I had were not actually talks; I enjoyed hearing about the Better Surveys Project spoken about by Peter Harris from Vision Critical. The project is a three-year study which aims to publicise a series of experiments to evidence the need of particular best practices to educate the industry on better survey design and execution. It is fantastic to see this kind of initiative in our industry and well done to all involved in that project!

The other non-talk highlight was a tribute to a researcher who had sadly passed away; John Young from Colmar Brunton. I know this may sound terribly morbid of me to add this as a highlight, but please hear me out: we so often hear about innovative methodologies, great case-studies and new technology which helps us help clients do things better, cheaper and faster, but this tribute reminded us that at the heart of all these developments and great work are researchers with passion, spirit and who genuinely care about other people, and their jobs as market researchers. It really brought the humanness of what we all do back home for me.

Another highlight was the award ceremony, presented by the researcher-turned-comedian, Sam McCool and a huge congratulations goes out to all the winners.

As a regular conference speaker, I always hope to hear and see great things on the stage and off the stage; AMSRS didn’t disappoint and I would definitely go back, even as a non-speaker. Thanks AMSRS for a fab event!