OPINION19 June 2014

Pitch perfect

Highlights from the third and final day of the Insight and Innovation Exchange (IIeX) in Atlanta.

The highlight of the day for me has to be the Innovation Challenge. Mike Wilt (Ninja Post), Kimberly Bastoni (Upfront Analytics), Chris Strachan (CorporateCloud.TV), Margaret Martin (Merlin Mobility), Mary Tarczynski (Ditto Labs), Mario Montag (Predikto), Jovonni Pharr (SayRoom), and David Johnson (Decooda) all pitched responses to hypothetical briefs in a battle of the bands for insight innovation.

There really is so much to like about the five minute carousel approach to presenting that IIeX has experimented with, especially when it’s as slick as this. The common theme among these pitches was a great deal of imagination, certainly expertise, but also (for a research conference) refreshing pragmatism. No debate here about probability sampling or a favoured programming approach; just clear responses to business problems and ways of delivering great consumer insight.

Talking of imagination, a little research among delegates and speakers confirms that IIeX’s scavenger hunt for attendees has been the secret hit of this conference. Everyone was issued with a set of clues that revealed the speakers, sessions, and exhibitors with QR codes to capture with the conference app. A real-time leaderboard had everyone’s progress displayed throughout the week. This meant a few particularly fun moments when total strangers would come up to you, put two and two together, and suddenly cry “I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR YOU ALL MORNING!”. Great icebreaker and a neat touch by the organisers.

In the afternoon, introduced with incredible enthusiasm by Lenny Murphy as a “cage fight, rumble in the jungle, duel to the death”, the final run saw a very illuminating panel debate on the best methodologies we have at our disposal.

Niels Schillewaert did his best to defuse the situation by opening with a conciliatory ‘every approach has its place’, but fortunately pulled things back by saying he should win the debate because he was the only one who’d “written a book on my approach!”. Expert industry analysis and plenty of good jokes came thick and fast in this session, but Steve Genco got a particular laugh by taking issue with neuromarketing’s failure to move into the mainstream, since GRIT reports that 10% of companies are using it, but 25% plan to do so in the near future, which is announced…every year.

Genco’s three explanations for this were: 1 ) the 10% might be incredibly loyal, 2 ) respondents were lying through their teeth, or 3 ) it just doesn’t work yet and churn was accounting for the stasis. Of all the methodologies in the debate, neuromarketing feels like it’s been a buzzword for too long, and the innovator who cracks the business application really could clean up. I thoroughly recommend pulling this session up on the IIeX website when it’s live – it’s not often you see a chair telling a panel member he’s a jerk.

A final word on conference clichĂ©, then. A degree of cynicism began to cut through today (in the best possible sense) as everyone began to turn their fire on snake oil salesmen. However, by a country mile, the most overheard statement today was a positive: ‘what a great conference!’.

I couldn’t agree more. Great job, IIeX.

Charlie Richards is a senior account manager at Tonic.