Andrew uses research to drive brand strategy. His career in media includes stints at Channel 4, the BBC and Reach. Andrew also writes for Marketing Week.
In this episode we discuss:
- The infamous Microsoft study of attention (and why it’s bumgravy)
- What the research into social purpose gets wrong (thanks to Marc Pritchard)
- How to spot and avoid bad research
- Why ‘straight line thinking’ doesn’t always get the right answer
- Does more research = better research?
- The post big data era
- The drawbacks of Ofcom’s Communications Market Report (which was new to me – I’m a superfan of this work)
- Social media and they data harvesting problems
- Andrew’s career and publishing of the Empathy Delusion & Aspiration Window
Monday 13 March, The Alex Hotel, Dublin
Tickets from €249 although if you use this link you’ll get 25% off! https://ti.to/learn-inbound/learn-inbound-october-2022/discount/EXJ1025
Andrew is an award winning insight and brand strategist with over 10 years’ media experience working at some of the world’s most iconic brands including Channel 4 and the BBC.
Most recently, he spent six years as the Director of Market Insight and Brand Strategy at Reach (the largest commercial publisher in the UK) where he was responsible for delivering insight, driving brand strategy and leading on new brand launches.
The Road to Somewhere: The New Tribes Shaping British Politics by David Goodhart
If you don’t get the podcast emailed to you (and a monthly newsletter) you can sign up for it on the Eximo Marketing website.
Make sure you subscribe to get the podcast every fortnight and if you enjoyed the show, please give it a 5* rating.
Andi Jarvis, Eximo Marketing.
This transcript has been done automagically using Happy Scribe and hasn’t been checked by a real person, so there may be some hilarious mistakes where the AI can’t work out our accents – I’m sure they’re trained on just the American accent.
[00:00:03.200] – Andi Jarvis
So my guest on today’s Strategy Sessions is Andrew Tenzer. Andrew, how are you doing?
[00:00:08.360] – Andrew Tenzer
I’m good, thanks. How are you?
[00:00:10.070] – Andi Jarvis
I’m top of the world. Thank you. I want to start by telling you about one of my favourite pieces of research and then we’re going to talk about research from there. Really? So I’m going to talk to you about the Microsoft study, about attention. And if you’re listening to the show, you may well be familiar familiar with this. It tells you that in 2017, I think maybe 2016, that humans attention span has fallen and is now shorter than the average goldfish. This is apparently down to the mobile phone that’s stuck in your hand and it becomes an attention disaster for you. Therefore the takeaway for marketers is that you have to produce shorter, catch your content, you have to be really attention grabbing and be upfront to people because higher attention spans shorter than a goldfish. People quote this all the time. You probably see on LinkedIn maybe once a month now it’s starting to ease down a little bit, but you definitely hear someone at a conference talk about it at every single conference. The problem with this research, Andrew, as I’m sure you’re going to point out shortly, is that it’s absolute bullshit.
[00:01:07.970] – Andi Jarvis
It’s nonsense. It’s been ridiculed in a BBC article, it has been disowned by Microsoft. It was never a Microsoft study in the first place. Somebody quoted it in a document that Microsoft had sponsored or had their name on and the company behind it won’t answer any questions about how they came up with their research, what their methodology was or anything like that. And if you talk to professors in the industry about attention attribution, they don’t understand how you’d measure it that way anyway. But this piece of research has legs, it has life, it lives and people won’t let it forget it. And what I want to talk about today with Andrew, a man who knows a lot about research and good research and probably a lot about bad research too, is how do we stop this sort of arse gravy flying around the marketing industry. I’ve talked enough there. Andrew, what’s your view on the Microsoft study?
[00:01:56.140] – Andrew Tenzer
Like you, I’ve heard it presented many times. I think it’s one of those things when you hear it, first of all, the reason why this, why it’s got people naturally kind of gravitate towards it to be true is because it feels instinctively true to a certain extent. But what they’re mixing up is probably the difference between kind of media consumption and some of the platforms they consume content on versus what’s actually going on in our human brain. And ultimately it’s nothing new when it comes to getting our attention, that we want something that’s good and interesting to us. That’s pretty standard. But yeah, I mean, it’s something that’s been talked about a lot, which, as you say, I’ve been very clear about. How it’s been really cool. And I think it comes down to a broader problem, certainly, I guess, in society to a certain extent, but particularly true of marketing is that there is what I consider to be quite a severe lack of critical thinking in the industry. I think that we tend to, a lot of the time, take things on face value. People are busy, they need something that supports a particular viewpoint and I think one of the things that I’ve experienced many times through my career is how often people throw things into conversations as if they are true and you hear something and it’s like that’s just simply not true.
[00:03:37.980] – Andrew Tenzer
But it’s also quite hard to challenge in those environments because it might be just a small thing that’s been said but actually it can snowball into other things and all of a sudden you’ve got ideas that are built off kind of simple untruths which aren’t evidence based. And my view on things and one of the things I learned very early on, particularly when it comes to research, is that if something doesn’t seem quite right, if the data doesn’t seem right, it’s probably something wrong with it and it’s probably not right. So I think this is a bigger challenge. It doesn’t go away really, but people naturally gravitate to something which sounds like it could be really instinctively true when sadly, people aren’t kind of willing to kind of critically assess these things and kind of go to the source.
[00:04:30.980] – Andi Jarvis
And whatnot I certainly know what you mean about being in those meetings where you have to make a decision about are you going to challenge it? I sat through it was a trading discussion at a relatively large online retailer and I was there effectively as a passenger. It wasn’t my meeting. I was there more just to understand a little bit more about the background for the project we were going to be working on and the senior person who offered ten minutes of thought on how Gen Z are fundamentally different to millennials who are fundamentally different to presented what I would class as sort of half truths, falsehoods and nonsense just as fact, but fact that actually has been published in other places, telling you how different your customers are and, you know, you sort of itching going that’s it, you know, like knowing if I’d have said something, I’d have been thrown out at the meeting. And that was the end of the project with them. And it’s difficult to kind of take down every bit of bullshit that you hear, isn’t it? Especially in research fields. You’d be the angry man on the internet all the time, wouldn’t you go, and this is wrong.
[00:05:35.600] – Andrew Tenzer
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that you always have to pick and choose your battles and those types of things. But I think more broadly, one of the biggest challenges, particularly in kind of fats in the marketing industry I mean, I’ve written about this before, but I think generally what happens is that someone very senior in the industry with a big following will say something. We talked about this before, but let’s talk about kind of social purpose marketing strategies and how people buy, et cetera. Is that someone very senior will talk about that. For example, maybe a CMO or Unilever, just for example. Let’s suggest that, for example. Let’s suggest and all of a sudden makes this statement about how people buy brands and what their values, that they want to buy brands based on their values and whatnot. And then all of a sudden I think it just kind of kicks a whole industry to gear as not kind of trying to prove that that is the case, rather than taking a step back and actually questioning if that’s true in the first place. And then you have this kind of ongoing cycle of frankly, a lot of it is bullshit, which is talked about and then starts to be seeded into kind of everyday conversations and then becomes a truth, so to speak, which is actually not rooted in truth at all.
[00:07:13.060] – Andrew Tenzer
And I think that’s how the cycle of kind of these new fads in our industry just kind of get going and it’s very hard to kind of push back against the kind of orthodoxy. It’s like a snowball effect basically. And that’s why when you do come out and a lot of it is based on kind of shoddy research because once you’re trying to prove something rather than testing a hypothesis, then that starts leads to leading research biassed questions. There’s a whole other issue about whether the standards of market research are for the standards maybe they once were, maybe touch on that in a bit, but it’s a vicious cycle.
[00:08:03.600] – Andi Jarvis
So we’ll come back to a couple of things you mentioned there about the standard of research and setting out to test the hypothesis as opposed to proving something. But I just want to go back to the bit. Now again, hypothetically, let’s say Mark Pritchard did say more than half of people are making choices on brands based on shared values and more than half of people from Gen Z all the way to Boomers really expect brands to take a stand on societal issues. Let’s assume that he did say that, because he did. I suppose where PR and marketing collide is that from a PR point of view that is now true because it is now quoting from someone who is the Chief Brand Officer at Procter and Gamble. So that is effectively a truth. Now you might say that’s based on bad research, I might say it’s based on bad research, but it is a truth that is out there in the industry and not everyone has that job title. So if you can quote the Chief Brand Officer from PNG, it’s back to nobody gets fired for hiring IBM, isn’t it? Well, I’ve just quoted PNG and PNG are the greatest at this, so I’m okay with that.
[00:09:06.020] – Andi Jarvis
That’s really, really difficult, isn’t it? Because it is, in effect true to some extent, even if it’s not backed by research, if you see what I mean.
[00:09:15.400] – Andrew Tenzer
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s why I think that people like Mark Pitchard have a bigger responsibility than they think they might have in that sense, but I still think there are other people which can challenge that. I think it’s whether once someone like Mark Pritchard comes out with something like that, whether there is someone brave enough to say, actually hang on, someone of a similar turn around and say, well, actually, that might be your point of view, but that’s not our point of view. It’s really difficult because naturally, I think the thing that really puzzles me is how marketing is meant to be an evidence based industry and a lot of things are not evidence based. So they like to talk a good game, but doesn’t quite back up in behaviour.
[00:10:19.570] – Andi Jarvis
So Mark Ritzen, previous guest on the show, is a big believer that and I may be misquoting him here, but it’s not even a direct quote, but Richardson is a big believer that most of the problems in marketing are down to bad training or lack of training. Not bad training, just no training generally. So by having no training, you’re unable to sort of spot the issues in the research and things like that. What’s your view? Is it bad training, or is some of this down to just our inherent bias as people? Because we are quite a predictably stupid species, aren’t we? When something speaks to a bias that we already have, we just don’t interrogate it in the way that we do. When something speaks to a bias, when something contradicts us, we want to go and find out why it’s wrong. But when something agrees with us, of course it agrees with what we think. Is it churning? Is it bias? Is it both?
[00:11:11.820] – Andrew Tenzer
Yeah. I think written a lot about this, done a lot of work around bias and things like that. Lunch with anything in life. It’s nuanced, isn’t it? And it is a bit of this, a bit of that. I think when it comes to training, I suppose I’m not what you would call a traditional marketeer. I’ve come up to insight and move into brand roles. But I think there is probably an element which probably social media can take quite a lot of responsibility for in the digital world in terms of if I see one more suite on Twitter about ten things you’ll do, which you’ll become an effective market here, and it’s just those types of stuff just drives me around. But obviously training is important just equally in market research, training and learning the methodology and sampling and questionnaire design, all those things. Absolutely. Training is very important, I think, for me. And we wrote about it a lot. Me and my co author Ian Murray, when we published the Aspiration Window, which is something that hadn’t been talked much about at the time, was obviously the composition of the marketing industry more broadly. So essentially there is a severe lack of social diversity in the industry.
[00:12:38.830] – Andrew Tenzer
So we found that 70% of people working in marketing and advertising grew up in a household where the highest income earner was social grade A B, and that’s just compared to 30% of the UK population as a whole. And why is that important is because we’ve done lots of research where we tested marketers against various frameworks and cross cultural psychology questions versus the general population. And effectively what we found is that people in marketing and advertising see, think, experience and interpret the world differently to kind of large swathes of the population. And I think that obviously has huge ramifications in terms of your daily output. And the challenge with bias is that we’re all biassed. Anybody that tells you that they are biassed or they don’t suffer from bias is lying. The simple fact is that the best way to overcome your biases is to surround yourself with people who have different biases to yourself. Unfortunately, people working in marketing tend to be culturally and socially quite similar and that’s the way it is. But that creates a problem because marketers like to think that people aren’t people are sitting at home thinking about what brands believe or the values they have, particularly at the current time.
[00:14:26.300] – Andrew Tenzer
Whilst social purpose is talked about so much in terms of marketing, people are just like they’re wondering how they’re going to put food on the table, right, or how they’re going to pay their gas and electricity bills. And I think that’s I don’t think people in the industry realise how privileged they are on the whole. But I think that goes back to what Mark Britain would talk about as kind of customer orientation, like 101. You are not a customer of your brand. My view and the work I’ve done is all about kind of showcasing look, you need to understand the differences between people like you who work in an elitist industry like marketing and just the general population. Because actually, if you can understand the differences, you can then start to identify, okay, this isn’t how they how certain people think versus how I think. And I think it brings a new outlook on how to approach things. And I don’t think that’s just a marketing thing. I think that’s a research issue as well in terms of even the types of questions that people ask, because even things like social purpose, I think you see those terrible statements where it’s like, I’m more likely to buy a brand who shares my values, et cetera.
[00:15:51.640] – Andrew Tenzer
Like I said, that’s such a forced question because people are not going down the path with their mates and saying, I really wish my deodorant shared the same values as me. That’s just not how people live in the real world. And a lot of the problem with research is it’s context neutral. And I think that’s one of the biggest challenges is how you overcome that from a research perspective. And one of the ways to do that is to not ask people things, which of course and it’s just not how people operate.
[00:16:29.360] – Andi Jarvis
You mentioned Ritson and probably the favourite thing of mine that Ritson has ever said is that marketing’s job is to be the voice of the customer in the room. And even if you don’t do that through research, even if you have very limited ways to actually do that, practically by thinking in that terms, it changes you to a customer orientation. It stops you saying things like I think and start to go, I wonder what this book does for our customer. That’s something that’s really helped me in terms of sitting in meetings and even throwing that back now as a consultant rather than in house throwing that back to people like what does the customer say? Who’s bringing the voice of the customer into the room here? I don’t care what you think, if you think that purple is better than that blue, it’s irrelevant. What does the customer think? And trying to have that view on it. But I want to take you down the path now of talking a little bit about the research and bias in research because you started talking about there and I think we can dive a little bit deeper in how some of this research comes about.
[00:17:28.170] – Andi Jarvis
So you mentioned in one of your pieces a question you ask when you’re at events about do people want to buy from a company with great social purpose or something? Do you want to talk about that for a minute? And then we’ll talk about how do you avoid asking questions like that in research and how can you really find out where social purpose really matters for people?
[00:17:46.700] – Andrew Tenzer
Yeah, sure. Obviously it’s an area that we looked into, I’ve researched for four or five years now. The standard thing is that a lot of research gets published by consultancies and people that are pushing a particular agenda around.
[00:18:05.040] – Andi Jarvis
Some people with a product to sell.
[00:18:06.560] – Andrew Tenzer
Perhaps with no product to sell. And a lot of it is based on, quite frankly, leading. Some of them are quite ludicrous, really, some of the statements that people ask. Because the thing is that if you ask someone to agree or disagree with the statement if I was to ask and this is where going in. And when I do talk, this is an example if I ask you, are you more likely to who here is more likely to buy from a brand who does good for society or does good for the environment? Of course everyone is going to put their hands up, right? It’s a socially desirable response, but it’s also the response that you want to believe yourself. Oh yes, of course I would do that. And then you ask people, okay, well, how many people have bought something from Amazon in the last week and everyone’s hand goes up. That’s just a small example. But there is a real world example is to look at the success of Amazon. If you really cared about the environment, sustainability, I’m not sure that you and also just workers rights and how people are treated making the allegations here, but just what you read about.
[00:19:25.740] – Andrew Tenzer
It’s very clear that if you really were a purpose conscious consumer, there’s no way that you would buy anything from Amazon, as far as I’m concerned.
[00:19:34.500] – Andi Jarvis
Well, the prices are great and it arrives the next day and you’ve paid for prime anyway and you get convenient through the Alexa in the corner. Of course I want to use for social purpose, but they’re doing it at half the price, so I’ll just order it from Amazon.
[00:19:49.540] – Andrew Tenzer
Exactly. And I think research can be designed is clearly designed to elicit a kind of socially desirable response and even when someone is answering a survey on their laptop on their own, we still are inclined to give a socially biassed response anyway. And that’s a huge challenge for trying to get under the skin of people’s behaviour. And a lot of people I guess there’s people in two camps. Like there’s some people who just never believe you can’t ever ask someone a direct question because they don’t tell you the truth and surveys, et cetera. And then there’s the other side, which kind of just like will take any old question and accept it as a truth and say, oh, regardless of what the question is or how it’s framed, et cetera. And I think there is a skilled researcher knows how to ask the right question and how to frame it in the right way. Because I’ve done a lot of people talk about behavioural science techniques and implicit responses and things like that. In all my years of doing search, I’ve used more or less every methodology under the sun, explicit, implicit line of questioning.
[00:21:09.140] – Andrew Tenzer
And to be honest, I’ve never learnt an insight or learnt anything from an implicit research technique that I haven’t found just by asking someone a question, framing it in the right way. Now that might be that I’m just not using the right methodologies or the particular subject at that time. It’s very simple. When we go and buy products and we go into the supermarket, we’re researching online, we think about a number of factors. When we buy products, we don’t think about one factor. And the problem with the way that social purpose is researched is it boils it down to binary context is a binary thing. Agree disagree. Most of the time people always it has to be with agree disagree scales. Most of the time people agree anyway because of the way that the questions are worded, but there are really simple ways just to get to the true size of how people buy brands. Obviously, you can do things like conjoint analysis, where you trade one thing after another, which is more important, et cetera, or you could do a very basic when you’re buying a brand in this category, it’s almost like category entry points, right?
[00:22:33.000] – Andrew Tenzer
What are the things that you consider important when you buy them?
[00:22:38.360] – Andi Jarvis
1015 things or whatever. You have a scale.
[00:22:41.400] – Andrew Tenzer
Exactly. You got $10 just to select and it’s there where you get to the truth. Because effectively what you get is that things like sustainability, things like a brand’s position on a social issue, et cetera, it’s very low. It’s round about on political issues and things like that, it’s around about 7% or 8%. On sustainability, it’s around about 30%. It’s actually the last research I did, it come down because of the cost of living. But I also think it’s come down because I think for too long the industry has tried to use green issues as a point of difference, whereas I’ve always felt that it’s a hygiene thing and that people have an expectation around how their products are going to be around the environment. But what comes up very clearly, and you said it just before, quality, reliability, convenience, like by far and away the most important things. And I think that’s partly the problem with marketing and advertising more broadly, is that there’s too much focus on things that have less of an influence in driving buying behaviours. And actually, a point of difference now might actually be just focusing on your product and proving that it’s a good product that will help improve your life.
[00:24:11.540] – Andi Jarvis
Do you think, though, that the focus on the margins, for want of a better phrase, that the points are a bit lower down? Is that just the nature of very competitive sectors? Because to be in the game, your product has to do the same things as everyone else’s product. Your pricing is probably going to be in the same sort of ballpark as everyone else’s product because you’re going to be sold in broadly the same places as everybody else’s product. So you know all the important factors it’s hard to get any differentiation on. So to find somewhere to differentiate, you’ve got to move down that ladder a little bit, haven’t you? Get to zero, 89 and ten. You’re like, we can do social purpose, we can do it differently. Is that the kind of the thinking that takes you to that point?
[00:24:53.460] – Andrew Tenzer
Yeah, I think it is. Although I think that shows a lack of creativity on the industry’s part, because you can differentiate. Why does differentiation have to be about social purpose? That actually most people it’s not to say that people don’t care about of course they care about the environment and climate change and all those things. But it’s a good example of what I think is kind of riddled in our industry is what we’ll call straight line thinking, which my co author Ian Murray termed quite nicely is this idea of kind of like A to B is very linear. So therefore, yes, of course, 90% of UK adults consider climate change one of the biggest issues or the single biggest issue facing our country today, or the world today. Therefore, because it’s a big issue, I will focus on that in my advertising. So it’s taking big societal issues and thinking that’s how to sell a product for my beanie’s. Brunt yeah, and actually, it’s just about well, there are many ways to differentiate your brand creatively in how you market your product. It doesn’t have to be our world differentiation. It’s hard to do it on price or quality of products because it’s identical to this one.
[00:26:15.740] – Andrew Tenzer
Therefore, we have to talk about saving the world and things like that, rather than actually, let’s just do some really cool, funny marketing. And that coincides with, obviously, all the data which shows that humour is becoming less of a priority in advertising over the years. And let’s forget, social purpose is pretty serious stuff, right? And so it’s no surprise that that’s the case. But, yeah, I think naturally, I think I’ve been in so many meetings, so many talks I’ve given, particularly placed by media agencies and stuff like that, where obviously the audience is quite young and they see it as a point of difference, whereas actually, if everyone’s doing it, it’s not very different at all. And look, if it can be effective, then I’m not saying that it can’t be effective for some brands, it can be effective, but when you’ve got brands like Carlsburg talking about seals in the ocean and saving seals in the ocean, I just don’t get it.
[00:27:22.240] – Andi Jarvis
I think there’s where you see purpose being done well, and I think there’s a swing in the pendulum with the industry, people saying purpose is overdone, it’s pointless and you don’t need to do it. And I probably agree, like the investors who Savaged Hillman’s Mayonnaise talking about brand purposes, it doesn’t need to do it. But what I think where the companies who do it really well and where it actually makes sense, that can actually have a real power for them, can’t it, when it actually does make sense to what you do. This hoodie is made by a company called Rapanui on the Isle of White, and once you finish with it, you send it back, they’ll recycle it, make it in a new hoodie. They do a lot with a surfers against sewage because they’re based by the beach and they have a whole kind of ethical, kind of social purpose.
[00:28:12.630] – Andrew Tenzer
Green that’s a business strategy, isn’t it? A business strategy which then goes into marketing strategy, et cetera, et cetera.
[00:28:22.010] – Andi Jarvis
But why did I buy the hoodie? It fits me really well. The price was what I wanted to pay and it looked good. It was nice to give them the money because they’re doing good things. But if I’m kidding myself and anyone else, if I told you, I wouldn’t have just bought it from Next if they had the right thing in my size at a similar price, I would have them. Right?
[00:28:40.530] – Andrew Tenzer
[00:28:45.980] – Andi Jarvis
You mentioned some of the people you present to and quite maybe young audiences, and maybe we’ve talked a little bit about people not having the training for this as well. One of the blessings curses of the last 1015 years is that market research is now really easy to do. It used to be when I started out in marketing, when TVs were still black and white, if you wanted to do proper market research, you needed a very big budget with lots of zeros on the end. Now you just need a couple of hours and a couple of hundred quid, right? Is that a good thing?
[00:29:20.440] – Andrew Tenzer
Yes, I’ve written about this too. Well, yes and no. I think the consequences of research being so readily available and easy to do is a problem for a couple of reasons. One is that you because it’s so easy to do and so quick to do, people are now able to whereas they may have been methodical in how they approached ideas and how they would have an idea and think, well, actually, this could be a good business decision for us, et cetera, et cetera. The pace in which businesses work nowadays, you can have this idea and say, okay, well, actually, I can go and do some quick research, quick, dirty research, and then I can go back with my research. Who says, here’s my stat, this is why we should do this, et cetera, et cetera. And so I think it doesn’t give people the I think sometimes people need to slow down and just take a step back. And having to spend more time on how you go about researching this and being methodical, I think is better, which obviously like the median of research now, which doesn’t allow as much for that approach. The second thing is that, like you say, anybody can do research now without the necessary training and things like that.
[00:30:55.480] – Andrew Tenzer
And it resulted, I think, in research which gets done, which is just not methodologically sound. And once you fall at that first hurdle, you are then making decisions of bad research.
[00:31:17.040] – Andi Jarvis
Back to the famous shit in, shit out phrase.
[00:31:20.400] – Andrew Tenzer
Yeah, basically. And I think I’ve seen it myself in kind of over my time working in research that maybe certainly I’ve seen from a client side perspective that I think a lot of client side research teams don’t necessarily have the grounding in kind of primary research that maybe they once did. I think the other thing as well is just we can’t talk about this without talking about just data more generally in the explosion of customer data and things. And I think we’re moving. Into kind of like a post big data era, if I’m honest. You don’t really hear that term much anymore. Back in 2009, 2010, it was anyone talking about big data, big data and then the realities came because actually it’s quite hard to use all that data and to tell you something meaningful. But I think there has been a conflation between data and research. Data is the input and insight is the output. So you have these companies going down, go for a data strategy. It’s not a data strategy really, it’s an insight strategy which is fueled by data. I think we often get it the wrong way around when we’re talking about these things.
[00:32:54.140] – Andrew Tenzer
And again, with just data at people’s fingertips, albeit customer data, proprietary data. It makes executives, executive teams used to having numbers at their fingertips so they can turn around to their data person and say, right, I need to know this, this and this. And they can say, okay, leave it with me and be back in half an hour after they pulled the data from their various data warehouses? Or whatnot if someone comes to you and say, well, I need to know this, this and this, but it’s a market research question. If I go back and say, well, we’re going to need to do some research on that, we’re going to need to, you know, do some quantum or some quarrel, come back to you in three or four weeks with an answer your you know, research is always is almost competing with the immediacy of customer data. And unfortunately, in those two instances, the data side tends to always win. And again, that’s why then research sometimes can be demoted because it just can’t compete with the immediacy of it. But they’re trying to, which is where some of the challenges are.
[00:34:10.600] – Andi Jarvis
What about the quality of some of that data as well? There’s been numerous reports and studies over the years about how inaccurate things like the data you can pull from social media is about your audience and things like that. But it’s still presented as the truth, isn’t it?
[00:34:29.420] – Andrew Tenzer
Absolutely. I mean, how many people, when they register something gives a date of birth of 1920, whatever the last option is. Yeah, exactly. Yes. And I think obviously it’s a big industry as well because you have these social media monitoring companies, social media listening tools. And the thing is, what they’ve done over the years is they’ve become more sophisticated and they’re bringing together different data sets to overlay demographic information, et cetera, et cetera. But actually I’ve never dug into it personally, but I don’t know how good that modelling is and how it’s really challenging. That’s why for me, I’m always a fan of the kind of gold standard data sets that you get things like TGI, some people kind of criticise it, but it’s still a gold standard for kind of media planning. And you can trust that that data is accurate.
[00:35:38.080] – Andi Jarvis
I love the Ofcom communications market report. Not always overly useful, depending on what you’re looking to do, but how people engage with different elements of the media. I just think it’s a stunning bit of research. I actually enjoy reading it. I’m just boring out and that’s all it is. But I do enjoy when it comes out every year. This is brilliant. Just great to understand proper methodological research. Methodical research even. That’s what I’m after. That takes a good sample size, different demographics, age groups, whatever, and really kind of pulls it apart. This is actually how people are using TV is dying.
[00:36:14.140] – Andrew Tenzer
I would counter that. I personally am not a fan of that research.
[00:36:20.780] – Andi Jarvis
Tell me why. I saw a presentation from the lead researcher as a bit of a fanboy and I was like I love everything on the way they’re going. So tell me why I’m wrong with this, please.
[00:36:33.220] – Andrew Tenzer
I think partially because with Opcom I don’t want to criticise, but they kind of representing all media. And what it shows to me is that they often have a lack of understanding of the intricacies of different media, which then plays out in how they ask questions, the type of questions they ask, even things like they report on. I say I work for Reach, which is obviously the largest commercial newspaper show there is. Audience, syndicated audience data on how much people consume our brands in digital, et cetera, et cetera. Yet they publish claimed research on usage as if it’s a truth, when actually they could just use research, syndicated data, which is industry currency, et cetera. Which makes me then leads to me to be more sceptical of some of the other stuff in there. And the good thing is they do make all the data tables available. I’ve had to certainly in my last role remove some of that research from strategy papers, which we’re using. We’re using it to make a case where I sort of said that’s not right. The way that’s asked is wrong. The lack of understanding of how people consume this, people that I understand it because media is particularly media, it’s specialised.
[00:38:15.790] – Andrew Tenzer
And if you work in digital publishing, you have an intricate knowledge of digital publishing. That a general all rounder in the research team who are offcom and brilliant research team are not methodologically and the way they approach it, absolutely. But I think it suffers from a lack of understanding of the nuances of different types of media.
[00:38:41.470] – Andi Jarvis
That is great to know. Thank you very much. Which is one of the reasons why I do the podcast. Because then you find stuff out like this, which then makes you think okay, I maybe need to go out this with a different viewpoint. So thanks for that. Really useful.
[00:38:54.880] – Andrew Tenzer
Daddy. I never get a job at Offcom.
[00:38:56.630] – Andi Jarvis
I know that’s it well, speaking about work, before we do talk about your work and what you’ve done and where you’re going next. Just we were kind of getting into it before. I talked about ofcom about the data that social media companies collect, and they are aggressively collecting lots and lots of data, which the EU are trying to at least rein in somewhat. You’re on TikTok at the Tensor XML marketing is on TikTok too, but we don’t really use it. TikTok are harvesting data aggressively, even by Facebook meta standards. What’s your thoughts on what they’re doing with that, what they’re using, where the ethical standards lie as well.
[00:39:43.760] – Andrew Tenzer
I mean, I’ve never been a big fan of social media in terms of the way that the companies operate. I think it’s hard. I mean, all the research shows that they’re not trustworthy. I think there’s a lack of transparency, and I think this is the problem. And I think there are wider questions about the role of social media companies in society and what they’re doing to society. I think for me, Twitter is really interesting because for me, twitter is a journalist platform, and I think Twitter is one of the most dangerous things that happens for our society, because essentially, twitter is full of a very small portion of the population with very loud voices, and the news agenda is basically taken from Twitter. And then it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy thing because something which you say, okay, well, that’s not representative of real life, then it starts to be reported in the news publishers, and all of a sudden it’s kind of like it’s creating this kind of cycle where you’re kind of bringing it into the real world. Similarly, I have a big problem with Twitter and what it’s done and how it regulates itself, and that’s why I was found it quite funny.
[00:41:17.430] – Andrew Tenzer
I did a TikTok app on it, actually. I’ve got a huge sympathy for people that have lost their jobs at Twitter. I know people that genuinely sounded like it was a fantastic place to work, like people really passionate about working there. But I think I don’t like the revisionism that I’ve seen that Twitter before. Elon Musk bought it with this, like, utopian paradise, and then all of a sudden he’s bought it, and it’s this, like, free for all, racist, misogynistic kind of blood bar of which brands should be part of. That is how Twitter has always been. It’s always been a cesspit of racism and misogyny. Elon Musk buying it hasn’t changed. He might have brought a few people back onto the platform, might have pumped.
[00:42:07.220] – Andi Jarvis
The tires of it a little bit.
[00:42:10.480] – Andrew Tenzer
But it’s always like that. And this is the thing is I can’t quite get my head round. If you draw comparisons with social purpose is that the advertising industry and brands are talking about how they want to make the world a better place simultaneously funding and spending huge amounts of money and funding platforms which are basically causing and being the root causes of some of these problems in the first place, like a growth in racism, a growth in misogyny, et cetera, et cetera. I really can’t get my head around.
[00:42:47.630] – Andi Jarvis
We’re recording this just 24 hours after Brazilians stormed the Supreme Court and presidential palace. Was it in Brazilian? Yeah, it was fueled by well, not just by Twitter, to be clear, as well as not just by Twitter.
[00:43:02.380] – Andrew Tenzer
Not just Twitter.
[00:43:03.380] – Andi Jarvis
Ex President Bolton Arrow had a lot to do with it as well, but the lack of action in countering disinformation as we started off the episode, talking about shit. Research travels because it appeals to people’s biases, and social media is the fuel for this, being able to travel, whether it’s bad research, misinformation about politics, racism, social media allows that to move quickly. And to go back to what Mark Twain quote was it about, I’m going to get this wrong now about the truth still strapping its boots on while a lie has gone all the way around the world, or something along those lines, anyway. But social media is the fuel for that fire, isn’t it?
[00:43:43.580] – Andrew Tenzer
Yeah, absolutely. And I think as well, just on the point about data is that people are willing I think this goes back to the point about data exchange more broadly. What it shows is that people might say that they’re worried about their data and how it’s used. The simple fact is, you give me it’s all about value exchange, right? Millions and millions of people are gladly handing their behavioural data over to TikTok, right, because it’s an enjoyable content experience. And I think that’s just like everything in life generally is a bit of a value exchange, isn’t it? And I don’t think data is any different. Obviously it’s different when it comes to kind of financial information and things like that with the banks you use, and you have an expectation that they’re going to look after your data. I think for some people, the whole data thing is a bit intangible. I think transparency is the way I mean, I remember when I was at Channel Four and we kind of led the way on the viewer. We call it a viewer relationship strategy, but we were clear from the outset the transparency around what we’ve been using data for.
[00:45:06.990] – Andrew Tenzer
Problem is, these tech giants, they’re not always the most transparent in how they’re going to use it, but most people are like, oh, yeah, okay, I just want to watch the in between them on catch up. There you go. But, yeah, I do think there’s accountability. Social media companies tell me this, you’re.
[00:45:27.940] – Andi Jarvis
A Channel Four part of the audience research team. Did anyone ever do any research on how many goddamn ads there are on Channel Four streaming service? It’s infuriating. Zedal Kasab was on years ago. He’s the channel four chief marketing officer. I should have asked him this question instead of you, but it’s infuriated.
[00:45:50.100] – Andrew Tenzer
Well, I think that they were always trying to optimise. You’re trying to optimise. And I think very early they were quite good at kind of putting how long the ads were, because, you know, it’s like, it’s like Rory Sutherland always talks about, like when you go when you go to a station for a train, you can wait. It’s fine if the train is ten minutes away, but at least you know it’s ten minutes away, but if there isn’t a time board there saying, then you’re just like you’re infuriated. And I think in a way, that makes it slightly easier, but I think that’s partially driven by I think what probably makes it worse is it’s in comparison, all four is competing with Netflix, competing with Amazon Prime without the ads. And I think that’s always a hard challenge. So they’ll probably just probably just be best to have slightly less adverts than it VX or something, and they might be all right to get away with it.
[00:46:54.920] – Andi Jarvis
[00:46:56.090] – Andrew Tenzer
Yeah. I mean, I’m sure there was I can’t remember specifically we’re not putting the.
[00:47:01.370] – Andi Jarvis
Blame on you, Andrea. That’s okay.
[00:47:02.700] – Andrew Tenzer
I’ll let you nothing to do with me.
[00:47:05.290] – Andi Jarvis
So you’ve worked at Channel Four, we’ve discussed, you’ve worked at Reach again, sort of people just explain a little bit more about Reach. I mean, I have a brief idea. You’ve probably been on a Reach website even if you didn’t really know it, but you’ll see it on the pop up when it comes to data. So who are reaching? What sort of couple of brands that people might know of that they.
[00:47:29.700] – Andrew Tenzer
Went from Channel Four to BBC, which obviously needs no explanation. And then I went to Reed. So Reach, they’re the largest commercial publisher in the UK. So they own brand well, they own about 75 brands or maybe more. So it’s brands like the Mirror, the Daily Express. Express. So two very polar opposites in terms of their politics. OK magazine, if you’re in London, football London, we also own a lot of the regional titles, so you got what we own. I say we I don’t work there anymore, but Manchester United News, Liverpool, Echo, the Record, after Scotland, so a kind of quite diverse portfolio of brands.
[00:48:17.390] – Andi Jarvis
And the live sites of Reach aren’t like the Belfast Live and Southampton Live or whatever. They’re all reaches.
[00:48:24.090] – Andrew Tenzer
Yeah, they’re all Reach as well. So the live network was kind of really, I guess, as a means to modernise the regional landscape in the digital sets, which has proved very successful for them.
[00:48:38.620] – Andi Jarvis
And you’ve recently bailed out of full time employment, so you’ve got some big stamps there on your CV. BBC a global brand, channel Four, brilliant national brand, Reach. Maybe it doesn’t have the awareness in some sectors, but I think people in the marketing industry will know Reach and will go, okay, and now you’ve taken that fun, terrifying move to go freelance. What drove that decision? And what are you looking what sort of projects are you looking to get your teeth stuck into?
[00:49:10.340] – Andrew Tenzer
Yeah. So I think I’ve obviously been working in kind of big media brands for quite a long time. And I think you get to a point where you kind of seen everything, done everything, and you’re working in very kind of fast paced environments that effectively can take its toll on you a little bit from a kind of wellbeing perspective, because there’s just so much going on. And particularly, I think, in an environment that people are facing a very challenging economic landscape, no business is going to be immune from that. But equally, Reach gave me a platform for my work. I was very fortunate to publish some very big industry acclaimed studies like the Empathy Delusion and the Aspiration Window, which enabled me to write for Marketing Week and speak to people all over the country and even outside of the UK.
[00:50:16.900] – Andi Jarvis
And got links in the show notes to them. So just click around where you’re listening or watching and you can find a link straight to them.
[00:50:25.260] – Andrew Tenzer
And I think it just felt like the right time to kind of take a step back and say, actually I’ve accumulated all this knowledge and I kind of want to work for myself. And I think for me I want the I’m looking for kind of a diversity of projects and being able to kind of get involved in lots of exciting things across different sectors and media brands. But equally I was able Reach again, they allowed me to kind of set up the brand function. I think what that was good for is it also gave me great experience in kind of content creation marketing, particularly brand strategy. So I led huge amounts of brand strategy work at Reach and actually the last thing I did before I left was I launched and created our first ever dedicated youth brand, Curiously, which is launched if you want to cheque that out on social. Quite big on TikTok for a time where my team were responsible for creating content on TikTok for the mirror and the star. The Star was good fun because obviously it’s quite a funny brand and it resonated really well with kind of young men, which is where we wanted to brand in social, particularly on the new platforms.
[00:51:53.720] – Andrew Tenzer
So I think it’s just looking for variety and being able to work with some really great people and just be able to hopefully, with my knowledge, pass on that knowledge and help people understand consumers better because ultimately that’s the root and the heart of what I’ve been doing for however many years.
[00:52:17.760] – Andi Jarvis
I’ve got a friend who was a pilot in the RAF when we were at university together and he talks about the one in 60 Rule, which I think if I get this right, is that for every degree off course you are, you will be 1 mile off course for every 60 minutes flying time. So you start off a little bit off course and you obviously end up miles away if you’re the more of course you are. I use that analogy sometimes. I always refresh myself because I probably told it wrong. But before I give it, it’s about how you should use research at the beginning of a project and get it right. Because you can make all the right assumptions or you can make all the right decisions. But if you’re basing it on faulty research, you’re already set off in the wrong direction. So with that in mind, surely you’re going to be the busiest man in all of the marketing industry in the next ten years. Right. Because everyone should be saying we need research and we need proper research done by somebody who knows what they’re talking about.
[00:53:16.100] – Andrew Tenzer
Yeah, I would like to think that people will see me as someone who can help them with that, even if it’s from an advisory perspective. I think that people talk about when you have times of recession. Obviously marketing budget gets slashed and all of those types of things, but we know from the great work done by the IPA that when everyone else goes quiet during a recession or actually spending your way out can be a really effective way of growing your business. And I think the same applies to market research. I think that naturally, when it comes to an economic downturn, a lot of the time market research teams feel the pinch and okay, we’re going to take this research budget away from you, et cetera. But I think it’s those brands and businesses who still invest in the research, still invest in getting it right, are the ones that are going to win because they’re going to have a starting understanding of consumer needs and perceptions and things like that. So I think it’s tempting for people to say, okay, well, let’s just cut that budget there. But actually I think it’s what helps you stand out from the rest.
[00:54:38.110] – Andrew Tenzer
So I would hope that there are people out there that can see the value of research in a difficult times by ruining the moment.
[00:54:48.050] – Andi Jarvis
Brilliant. And let’s finish this little section off just by what’s the best way for people to get in touch with you? Is it social media? Is it via your website? What’s the best way to get hold of you?
[00:54:57.960] – Andrew Tenzer
Yeah, just my handle on Twitter. And TikTok is the tensor. Or if you want to contact me on LinkedIn, I’m also available.
[00:55:06.790] – Andi Jarvis
There perfect links to those in the show notes as well, so cheque them out. So as we get to the end, I always like to ask the guests about where a book they’d recommend, or books, plural, that they’d recommend for the audience, anything particularly that’s influenced you or that you think people should read to get a good understanding of market research or even just anything else generally in marketing.
[00:55:28.480] – Andrew Tenzer
Yeah, I actually think the best marketing books aren’t really about marketing at all. So I would probably say the book that’s had the most influence on me in my career is probably The Rotor Somewhere by David Goodhart.
[00:55:45.380] – Andi Jarvis
I think that’s the first time anyone’s ever mentioned that.
[00:55:48.820] – Andrew Tenzer
Yeah, so it’s basically underpinned or been the main inspiration for a lot of the work, like The Empathy Delusion and Why We should Trust our Instinct. And The Aspiration Window was underpinned by that book, which I read in 2017. It was a book published after in response to Brexit and basically David Guitar talked about, kind of tried to understand why Brexit and the election of Donald Trump happened. And you might have heard it talked about how he the anywheres and the somewheres, effectively the kind of anywhere for this small ruling media elite sorry, the anywheres are and somewhere to kind of the mass market or the main part of the population. And essentially what he argued with really thorough evidence was that the anywheres and somewheres in the past have been much closer together through society, through the church, all these types of things and basically how they veered away and essentially things like Brexit and the action of Donald Trump was a pushback of the somewhere to the anywheres, and it just has a really, really profound impact on me and my view of the world. And it just coincided quite nicely with the work I just joined what was Trinity Mirror Over Time, which is now reach, and no one wanted to talk about those things.
[00:57:21.140] – Andrew Tenzer
And then all of a sudden Brexit happened and it’s like, oh, maybe we are a bit out of touch and community is important. All These Types Of Things is a really fascinating book and I still think it’s absolutely relevant today and I think it helps, hopefully, people to understand and empathise with people that maybe they can’t traditionally empathise with, as we see when helping people talk about breakfasters, et cetera, et cetera. I just think it’s a really important book, like a really important book. So I’d highly would recommend it.
[00:57:56.260] – Andi Jarvis
Brilliant. Thank you very much for that. And I think I’m going to order it in the next ten minutes because it sounds like the sort of thing brilliant. Often when people say, oh, it’s this book, I’m like, oh, yeah, it’s just over there on the shelf. No, not even come across that one. So can’t we?
[00:58:07.840] – Andrew Tenzer
I wasn’t going to say how brands grow.
[00:58:10.480] – Andi Jarvis
I thought you were going to say the Viz book that I’ve got in the top corner, but that’s a good one day I might just make a whole podcast reading it out, but not until I want to get cancelled that amount. So, anyway, moving on. Listen, Andrew, thank you very much for your time. It’s been brilliant having you on and hopefully you get stacks of business out of the back of this. So thank you for your time.
[00:58:29.510] – Andrew Tenzer
Thanks for having me on. Appreciate it.