FEATURE1 December 2011

Diary: Targeting, trends and tooth-whitening


A roundup of things that caught our eye in and around the research industry this month.

Target practice

The internet is supposed to offer huge opportunities for targeted advertising. But Diary continues to be unimpressed by the reality. Facebook, despite knowing more about most people than they know about themselves, seems to have concluded that its members’ main interests are credit card deals and weight-loss wheezes.

Even when targeting hits the mark it can still miss the point. Diary recently bought a cuddly toy Moomin for the first birthday of a relative. Now the internet seems full of ads for Moomins – which is literally the last thing Diary needs because it’s just bought one.

Advertising blogger Richard Huntington is sceptical of internet ad targeting too. He describes being bombarded
with ads for children’s pyjamas after buying some online. Imagine how you’d feel, he says, “if you popped down John Lewis and bought something and then some bloke arrived at your doorstep two weeks later trying to flog you exactly the same thing”.

Day at the races

Having reported last month on the successes of a racehorse named Opinion Poll, Diary now learns that there is also a horse called Ipsos. Trained by Noel Meade, Ipsos du Berlais won the Allianz Maiden Hurdle at Down Royal on 4 November.
We’d like to be able to tell you more about him, but we can’t because racing parlance is utter gobbledegook, so if you’re interested we have to refer you to Google. We are, however, fairly certain that the horse is unaffiliated with the market research company.

“Some researchers are already over the gamification of research and have moved on to talking about the researchification of games”

Gamify this

This time a year ago Diary barely knew what gamification was. Now, some researchers are already over the gamification of research and have moved on to talking about the “researchification of games” (don’t ask us what that means, ask Peter Harrison of BrainJuicer). Research hopped on the bandwagon this month, ‘gamifying’ an article with the help of Tom Ewing, who hid the titles of eight Spice Girls songs in his report from Esomar’s 3D conference. A lucky reader spotted them all, winning a £10 iTunes voucher.

The science of smiles

Questionable research is continuing to help brands conjure press coverage from thin air. “Cheryl Cole really DOES have the perfect smile… and here’s the scientific proof” said a Daily Mail headline, above a photo of a beaming Cole in a low-cut top.

The Mail tells us that David Holmes of Manchester Metropolitan University has come up with the formula for the perfect smile, taking into account factors such as face shape, condition of teeth and confidence. The formula is
A × ((S + T + F) – (W + L)).

Only near the end of the article does it emerge that this “research” was paid for by Blanx whitening toothpaste. The Mail then offers a timely reminder of the importance of a good smile at Christmas time, in words that may or may not be lifted from Blanx’s press release.

Holmes has experience in this area – in the past he has developed formulae for the perfect kiss, the perfect bum and the perfect breast on behalf of Philips Sensual Massagers, Asda and Nuts Magazine.

The scientifically correct name for what these companies are up to is advertising, not research.

Missed possibilities

Sales ninja. Word herder. Social media trailblazer. Web kahuna. Head cheese – which sounds like a nasty fungal infection but is in fact one of many ‘colourful’ new job titles making their way on to business cards, according to digital printing firm Moo.com. Clearly, Insight Research Group’s new ‘chief possibility officer’ Perry Baldwin uses a different printer.