Max Kalehoff vs. Bill Neal Debate On The Validity Of CGM Research Heats Up
Interesting quote from Bill Neal about the validity of consumer generated media research on the datamining blog. Bill Neal is a well-respected traditional market researcher; he recently gave an interview to Tony Bloomberg that was critiqued by Max Kalehoff of Nielson Buzzmetrics in his MediaPost newsletter article. Here's the quote:
"The bottom line is that CGM research cannot be relied upon for much of anything. So what if it includes some "super consumers", "early adapters", and "extreme loyalists and detractors?" There is no telling which are which. It may just as easily include those who have never purchased or used the product/service, and simply want to express some opinion based on some unknown motivations."
I am personally enjoying the debate, mainly because I've had some misgivings of my own about the validity of CGM. And in the process of exploring those misgivings I've asked researchers from both sides of the isle their opinion of this type of research.
It does seem to me that there should be some room for CGM research in a marketing manager's toolkit. After all, how does a product become popular, or a TV show for that matter? Maybe as Mr. Gladwell states it's the influencers within a community that in the end presage what is going to happen. Has anyone ever considered that question? Or more clearly, maybe it does not matter what the majority think but the influential minority.
Posted by johncass at June 19, 2006 1:49 PM
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I am struck that one of the criticisms in Bill Neal's reply is that CGM research is "qualitative." Of course it is.
So, is the problem that some people are taking it as statisitcally valid quant research? I hope not. And if that's not the case, then waht, really, is the problem?
Posted by: DougH at June 20, 2006 2:15 PM
Maybe the only disagreement between CGM research and Bill Neal is the use of the word 'research'.
I think you are right Doug, the reasons you might use consumer generated research would be different from traditional marketing research. If a company wanted to track rumors about its brand, the process of CGM monitoring will allow the company to react quickly to unsubstantiated rumors. If you want to know who are the most influential people in your industry's blogging community, tracking the conversations will reveal the influencers. And if you wanted more opportunities to find unique ideas blogging and CGM gives you amble content to review. See my post on a company called Informative on how their clients combine CGM research with traditional marketing research.
Interestingly, I've spoken with some experts in the field who tell me some of their clients have dropped traditional marketing research from their toolkit in favor of CGM research.
Maybe the companies dropped the marketing research because CGM research actually fits their original goals more succinctly than traditional marketing research ever did.
I made the connection between CGM research and marketing research when I discovered companies were using the feedback from customers to help make their products better. See the Macromedia case study on the blogging survey for an example of this in action.
The strength of blogs is their openness, to the audience, and their accessibility to search engines. The process of getting feedback, and conversation says a lot about your brand. And what that process says about your company and brand maybe more important than a single piece of feedback.
Maybe there's a lack of understanding of the goals of each type of research? I am reminded here of many of the discussion's I've had with PR people about how both PR and SEO fit into the new world of blogging. First we have to explain where we are coming from to know what we are talking about.
Posted by: John Cass at June 20, 2006 2:49 PM