NEWS5 March 2010

Millward Brown puts avatars on trial in survey of Oscar nominees

North America

US— The words ‘Avatar’ and ‘Oscar’ have gone hand in hand in the run-up to this weekend’s Academy Awards, so it seems fitting that Millward Brown employed avatars as virtual interviewers for an online survey asking who will win Best Picture.

The survey marked Millward Brown’s first experimentation with avatars as interviewers, said Jake Kolb, vice president within the agency’s innovations team.

Overall, he said, the trial was a success – particularly the technical integration. “We did a test up front to make sure people could see and hear the avatars, and 96% were able to pass through the test screen,” said Kolb.

The agency also tested the use of avatars at various occurence levels within the survey, starting with three occurences and working up to eight. Kolb reports no impact on drop-out rates – though also no improvement in completion rates. This in itself was taken as a win for the technology, given that the use of avatars increased survey length by around two minutes on average.

As for the results of the survey itself, James Cameron’s Avatar movie came out favourite to win the Best Picture Oscar – unsurprising given the billions the science fiction epic has taken at the box office. The awards ceremony takes place on Sunday night at Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.