What I learnt at IIeX

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What I learnt at IIeX
Posted on March 10, 2014 by Lucy Davison

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Insight Innovation Exchange was a whirlwind. It was the first of its kind in Europe, and with upwards of 40 presentations a day, I often found myself with room envy. Condensing my most memorable memories has been a challenge, but here goes:

1. Virtual Reality.

This is a reality – Lieberman Research Worldwide’s VR headset (in the exhibition) plus VR simulator ‘Avatar’, by  Hall & Partners and Simudyne, exemplified that. I personally had a terrifying time plunging into the virtual reality via LRW’s headset. And when I say plunging, I really mean it. I found myself upon a virtual bridge, being urged to jump off – a very uncomfortable feeling and only approximately 30% of people at the conference could do so.


The conference included not one, but nine presentations about accessing and understanding the sub-conscious. Several different approaches to facial coding and neuroscience demonstrated and proved the value of understanding the unconscious to drive success from different ad campaigns. Dr Kai-Markus Mueller presented a compelling account of how to ‘set prices that please the brain’. This emotional theme extended to brand analysis and on to Behavioural Economics.


John Kearon of Brainjuicer pointed out that feelings are a better predictor of what we will do than rational questions. To reinforce his point, during an energetic performance he sang the theme song from a UK advertising classic from the 1970s – ‘Just one Cornetto’ (which took me back!) This musical theme was reiterated later by Caroline Winnett of Neurensics USA, whose violin playing demonstrated very clearly how music accesses our subconscious and provides a universal language for brands.

3. Itsy bitsy (not big) data

There were several sessions which talked small, not big, data. A client panel, chaired by Ray Poynter, gave us a vision of the future of research being in multiple boutique/niche data vendors and small, solutions-oriented agencies.  We had Paul McDonald from Google talking about breaking surveys into ever smaller pieces in his session on ‘How data chunking will save the tracker’. The debate that followed, both through the Twittersphere and onward chat, highlighted that this might be because the current limitations of Google Surveys only allow for four questions per study. Far be it from me to comment.

It was also important to go small when delivering research.  Mark Earls, head of the Herd Consultancy, pointed out that at the moment we have container sized reports which need to fit through a letter box. The workshop that followed attempted to fix what is broken in marketing research – attendees crowd sourced issues, and their solutions. We broke down problems into small bite sized issues demonstrated that taking small, incremental steps to innovation is often a better way to go than to attempt giant leaps.

4.      Impact!

Impact, the critically important issue for client-side researchers, cropped up with a focus on how to visualise data, create stories and design for impact.  We heard a lot from technology and data visualisation companies, in particular Patricio Paganie of Infotools who took us through how Coca-Cola migrated to a visual portal solution to present research results. We also had the DIVA Awards. This included a lively panel discussion clarifying the essential differences between data visualisations and infographics: data visualisations are created by software that supports data analytics through imagery, and infographics are a synthesised and triangulated way of telling a story from data.

5.      Gone fishing!

At the end of day two there was one session that particularly resonated with me about the un-sustainable approach we take to marketing research. Using the concept of sustainable fishing as a metaphor, an expert panel consisting of a client, a supplier, a big agency and a small agency was chaired by Alison White and Betty Adamou with the support of Elina Halonen.  While Tom Ewing and Leigh Caldwell fought it out for the cheesiest fish metaphor on Twitter, the panel succinctly articulated one of the most important problems facing the industry – our un-sustainable approach towards the waters of respondents within which we ply our trade – and what we should do about it.


I could go on. There was a ‘rock n’roll’ feel to this conference – many presentations, some a little ragged around the edges, many very insightful. There was much more on the business of research than I have seen at other conferences. Although there was a lot on new ideas, methods and technology, I felt the desire to deliver real change was always there. I also felt that the industry is a great place to be right now and that IIeX was an inspiring and engaging window into our world.

This is an abstract from an article published in Quirk’s on 10th March 2014. To read the full article click here.