Case-In-Point: Using Online Dial Testing to Drive Deeper In-Person Qual

Q&A with LDV Research Partner’s Galia Rosemberg

Using online dial testing for political ad research
Galia Rosemberg is a seasoned, freelance market research consultant based in Mexico City. She recently completed an interesting political research study, pairing online dial testing with traditional qualitative methods, to evaluate how the underlying theme and tone of selected political commercials resonated with specific voter groups.

Galia has conducted research and consulted for several large, multinational organizations including Merck, GFK and Ipsos. Her focus has been mainly on the banking and pharma sectors but has also worked with consumer products companies and political campaigns. She’s partnered regularly with Mexico-based LDV Research, full-service qualitative research firm, including on this recent political research study where she helped an advertising firm doing early ad concept research in preparation for the upcoming Mexico City elections.

Can you tell us about the research goals for the project? What were you (and your client) hoping to find out?

Galia: We’re having elections very soon here in Mexico. So, we wanted to test five different types of stimuli. The stimuli were all political ads that were from past campaigns unassociated with what’s happening in Mexico City. The ad agency chose these ads, in particular, so our participants wouldn’t be pre-disposed. We tested two from Argentina, two from the U.S., and one from the UK—each had a very distinct tone. And what we wanted to know is how well each of the stimuli—and how each tone—resonated and emotionally connected with each of our target groups. Since we were looking for an emotional response, we were very interested in each of the group’s initial, gut reactions to the stimuli. Other questions we were looking to answer were more about style, such as: how did the group like to see the candidate? Did they like seeing the candidate talking to other people or standing alone? Did they like seeing the candidate in a close frame versus a wider shot?

You mentioned you were testing “distinct tones.” Can you give us an example or two of what you mean by tone?

Galia: Yes. So, in one of the ads from Argentina, the candidate was speaking directly to the camera, a very close frame, speaking about the region in Argentina where they lived, and how much they needed people to stay in the countryside and not go to the cities, because they have to build community. Another example is an ad we tested from the United States. I believe a senatorial campaign, where the candidate, who was an army veteran, was talking about gun control as he was assembling a weapon blindfolded. He obviously was very familiar with guns whereas he challenged that his opponent had never even held a gun.

Galia Rosemberg - qualitative research consultantWhy were you interested in using online dial testing (Perception Analyzer Online) for this project?

Galia: We weren’t as interested in what our participants thought about the ads themselves. It wasn’t about the candidates in these ads either. We didn’t want our participants to rationalize a lot. Because of the political climate here, we felt that if they had time to rationalize, they were going to hate anything we presented. So, our strategy was to capture and measure their initial reaction and then confront them with it to understand why they reacted the way they did.

What we really wanted to see was whether the participants connected emotionally with the ad or not. And for that, we thought the Perception Analyzer would be very useful because the dials do a good job of showing us that immediate gut response, and we can see exactly when that response happens. Getting this type of insight was critical in the concept stage for the ad agency because for this client, they’re banking on finding that emotional storyline to connect with voters.

Had you had experience using dial testing before? 

Galia: I had not personally conducted a dial testing session before but I knew about it and had reviewed the (dial testing) data before. I worked on a couple of qualitative studies probing the results of a Perception Analyzer test. So I knew about it and had a good idea of what to look for in the data.

Why did you choose to do your research online versus in-person (focus group)?

Galia: Doing it online was affordable, and I could bring in Dialsmith to handle the technical end of it and not have the competitive situation that I might’ve had bringing in another research consultant. It was the ideal solution.

This was not your traditional qual study. Can you tell us how the study was conducted?

Galia: Our approach was I think a bit different. We wanted to bring people in and not go out on the field to test. I know some consultants that own dials go out to certain areas and conduct their sessions out in the field. Here, we did it the other way around. We brought our participants in.

For the study, we set up a room with computer stations and we had groups of two or three go through at a time and dial test the ads first. We wanted to keep the groups small because we had to give them instruction and we thought it would be too chaotic and distracting to have larger groups go through at the same time. After they finished, they went into a waiting room until the rest of the group had finished the online dial test. That also gave us a little time to review the dial test results before sending the group into a second room to conduct the focus group.

Having the dial data available so quickly allowed us to see what was connecting and what wasn’t. So, we had that information already before going into the focus groups where we could probe much deeper into why.

How did the dial data inform your analysis and feedback to your client?

Galia: Having the dial data available so quickly allowed us to see what was connecting and what wasn’t. So, we had that information already before going into the focus groups where we could probe much deeper into why. One interesting note was that we found that a negative response (dislike) on the dials didn’t necessarily correlate to the ad not making a powerful emotional connection. In one case, the group’s dial results overwhelmingly indicated that they disliked the ad. But the fact that they dialed with such intensity made us probe deeper during the focus group. And we found that the strong negative response they had to the ad resulted in a positive response to the candidate with comments like, “The ad was shocking. Very harsh and aggressive… but the candidate is strong. He’s the type of candidate Mexico City needs.”

Any feedback on the results from your client? 

Galia: The client was super happy and very excited about seeing the (dial) results immediately. We had a short period of time between when everyone in the group finished the dial portion and when we started the focus group. But we were able to download the charts and see clearly what was happening in our cross tabs. All three of our segments tested similarly, so it began to paint a very clear picture for us even before the qual portion began.

That’s a wrap. Thanks to Galia for her time and for the details and insights from her study. You can get in contact with Galia and LDV Research Partners by going to http://www.ldv-research.com.

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