NEXT 2019 Podcast Series

NEXT 2019 Conference Series – Zoë Dowling – FocusVision

Welcome to the 2019 NEXT Conference Series. Recorded live in Chicago, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Zoë Dowling, SVP of Research at FocusVision.

Find Zoë Online:




I’m Jamin Brazil, and you’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast.  We are live today at the NEXT Conference in Chicago. I have the wonderful Zoё with Focus Vision.  Zoё, how are you?   


I’m great, thank you.  How are you doing?  


I’m good.  When did you get in?


Late last night, later last night.    


Oh, OK.  Kind of late.


Kind of late.


Kind of late.  So, have you been to the NEXT Conference before?


Do you know I have not.  And I’m actually really excited to…  It feels like the agenda is a little bit different.  There’s a lot more focus on nuts and bolts. I’m speaking here with Ted Saunders and Roddy Knowles on Mobilize Me, which is research on research.  You don’t see that at conferences these days. Why not? This is important. And so, real excited because there’s other presentations like that as well.    


Yeah, totally.  You know it’s funny there’s an adjacent industry which is analyzing credit card transactions.  It’s a big, big, big space predominantly sold actually, sold into venture and PE and Wall Street firms so they can analyze like when there’s an issue with Chipotle, what its actual credit card transactions trending towards exactly.  What they’re doing is they release a bunch of research on research. And they’re constantly being quoted in Wall Street Journal, etc. It just truly amazes me that we, as researchers who have billions of transactions (not monetary), we don’t do a better job talking about that kind of stuff.    


Do you know from my perspective I think there’s been a trend away from that?  If you think five years ago, certainly ten years ago (of course, that puts us in the aging category) but this was all about web surveys, web data collection, mobile data collection, but also on the qualitative side, how do we create good engagement with online research community participants, and you just don’t see that now.  And, tell you what: we’ve not cracked the nut. It’s not a done deal.   


Not by a long shot.


We’re not doing amazing research, that kind of research on research.  But you’re right: there’s also a lot that we could dig in on the Big Data side.  Like what time of day? Thinking online communities, what time of day are people coming?  What’s the average? How do we aggregate that across projects? How do we then increase engagements?  How could we do some incentives? I think there’s a lot of different things we could do there to just make us better informed.  


Yeah, even something as basic as email-open rates over time.  I think with such an important topic… Rogier Verhulst with LinkedIn, he had mentioned that they’ve actually seen almost a complete decline, approaching a zero, with certain segments in the population just not accessing email anymore.  They’re utilizing a bunch of different tools to communicate. Before you and I because of my age…


That was tactful.


…I mean pre-social media, there wasn’t an alternative to…   You have like AIM or whatever (AOL kind of online messenger), but it wasn’t at scale.  And now, all of a sudden, there’s probably… I mean I could connect with you at least five different ways, not using email. 


And there’s different ways to get our attention.  And I think that’s interesting because if I think of both SMS but also think of push notifications ‘cause again thinking of them is a way to contact people that we are speaking to their participants.  That you see in the general population has gone up and down. And, far from SMS disappearing, it’s got its place but so does all the other messengers – WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and anything else you use – but then also push notifications.




Just know, am I just waiting to get something?  So I’m going to engage with you, but I just want that notification to come up on my phone at that particular time.  


Focus Vision:  what are you most excited about right now?


We have a really exciting innovation coming out that we’ve been doing a lot of work on for certainly the last year, the last 18 months.  We’re going to be talking a lot more about that in the coming months, certainly coming September. So I’m hyped ‘cause I think it’s moving the needle, and that’s what we all need to be doing.


Oh, I can’t wait to hear about that.  It’s in the qual space or quant space?


It is in qual but it kind of bridges both.


Got it, so qual at scale kind of a framework. 


Yeah, yeah, and it’s all in the analytical phase ‘cause that’s what we need, again I think as well.  We talk about better, faster, cheaper. And with AI and all of these machine learning and different types of tools that can help us get closer to that data, I don’t for one minute believe it’s going to replace our jobs ever, maybe.  


No way.  


Hundreds of years?


I mean not in the next maybe 50 years.  Some kind of like abstract construct.


And everything will change so much in a way that we can’t imagine, but certainly not now.  I think these tools are there to make us better at our jobs, to be able to get closer to the data quickly, and get some good truths from it.  I mean that’s what we need to do.  


Yeah, I mean we continue to hear data–rich, insights–poor.  And we have seen a proliferation of new tools and methods by which we can gather consumer insights, especially in the qual space, which has been really exciting over the last two years.  What we still aren’t doing a great job of is how in the world do I analyze that at scale. You have like individual fiefdoms where you’re seeing that kind of, but there still hasn’t been, from my point of view, a broader, holistic kind of approach.  You know, mTabs, but there again they’re really focused on the quant space. Anyway, yeah, I don’t know; we’ll see. I’m excited to see what you guys release.   


Yeah, and I think there’s a lot of scope from innovation.  And I’m sure there are a lot of companies that have this thing in the works just because analyzing at scale, making use of the data.  We’re always talking about this Big Data we have at our fingertips; it’s going to make us better and smarter. And so, yeah, it’s going to be good.  


I’m excited about your talk.  We’ll post a link to it if you write a blog post when this thing launches.  If somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?


Find me through a variety of methods, as you know.  Anything from LinkedIn but also email me at FocusVision,  Love to hear from people.  


Zoё, thanks for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast. 


Thank you for having me.


Everybody else, we’re live at the Insights Association.  Special thanks to the Insights Association for hosting us here on site as well as some of their other shows.  If you would like to learn more, check the show notes. Have a great rest of your day.