maslansky + partners’ President Lee Carter and Media & Technology Supervisor Lee Loflin discuss the innovative tools and process that powers their quick-turn polling research.
In the last presidential election cycle, Lee Carter and her team at maslansky + partners made a paradigm shift, which enabled them to turn around polling results—on anything from debates to new attack ads—overnight. Their success story is a combination of ingenuity, the right tools, and many very late nights!
This is Part 2 of our Q&A with Lee Carter and Lee Loflin of masklansky + partners. If you missed Part 1, you should give it a read first (unless you’re one of those people that likes reading the ending of the book before the beginning—if you are, then by all means, read on.) Here, in Part 2 of our discussion, Lee Loflin, Media & Technology Supervisor at maslansky + partners joins the discussion to take us through their unique testing process: from the moment the event begins, to capturing the video clips, fielding the Slidermetrix research, interpreting the results, and producing the deliverables they crank out for the early morning FOX & Friends segment.
Can you walk us through how the process works from start to finish from deciding which clips will be tested to the finished piece that we see presented on FOX?
Lee Loflin (LL): When we have an event that we decide to test… [FOX’s news department] cuts up the clips for us, but there’s a lot of back-and-forth on which pieces we want to test to make sure that we get a good representation of the full event. So, while we’re not going test a three-hour debate, we want to make sure that we get the highlights. Then, we string together those recorded clips into a single video. We then upload the video to YouTube and ingest the YouTube link into the Slidermetrix tool. Once we get the clips, the rest of the process happens very quickly so we can get Slidermetrix and our survey in the field the same day. Once the clip and the project are set up in Slidermetrix, we can embed the dial testing exercise on our website and invite our respondents to rate the clip and then go to a quick follow-up survey to capture additional info and feedback. Once they’ve completed the survey, we give them their incentive for participating.
So then, once you get the results from online polling, what’s the next step?
Lee Carter (LC): Once we get an appropriate number of responses, typically around 100 responses for an overnight, we’ll analyze the results. I go through the dial results, and see how people reacted. The combination of both the dial lines and the survey responses allows me to get a pretty good sense for how people reacted and why they reacted the way that they did.
So, it’s a combination of both the dial lines and people’s feedback, because it’s not always straightforward. Usually, when there are positive messages, people respond more favorably. When there are attack messages, they don’t respond as favorably. But that’s not always a true picture of how a message was received. So, we combine both the dial testing results and the survey results to get a more complete picture. Then, in order to provide more meaning to FOX’s viewers, we summarize the results by giving each clip a grade. So, for example, we may say, “On this clip, Republicans gave Trump an A; Independents gave him a B; and Democrats gave him an F, and here’s why…” And so, it takes about 30 to 45 minutes to analyze the results and feedback for eight moments from a debate or speech or news of the day or whatever. Then we submit it to FOX and they make their graphics packages out of it. Generally, that happens about 4am and we’re on air talking about the results between 5:15 and 5:30am.
That’s an impressive turnaround—designing, fielding, analyzing and reporting all in under 24-hours. What do you see as the biggest benefits of this approach?
LC: I think one thing is just that you can get a good size sample. When we were doing it in [live] groups, you’d get maybe 20 people per night or sometimes as many as 40 people per night. But, here, we can almost always get 100 people in just one night. So, that’s pretty nice. Also, the quick turnaround and getting real-time feedback. Also, the fact that it’s something that we can do ourselves, in-house, without having layers of different programmers. Our team can manage the whole process from start-to-finish. We use the software, follow our process and gather and analyze the results. It’s that simple.
And that’s a wrap. Big thanks to both of the Lees for sharing their insights. If you want to catch Lee Carter’s polling segments on FOX & Friends or keep pace with the great work being done by maslansky + partners, you can follow them on Twitter and Facebook.