Five Things We Learned At IIeX

The Insight Innovation Exchange (IIEX) goes from strength to strength. With over a thousand delegates and a dizzying variety of tracks, the 2018 edition was the wildest yet. Making some System1 sense of it were Bianca Pryor, who also spoke about testing at scale to avoid marketing waste, and Brent Snider.

Here are their five big takeaways from IIEX 2018. Read it quick – by the time you’ve finished the marketing industry will have already changed, again.

IT’S ALL ABOUT TECHNOLOGY AND SPEED

We simply can’t say this enough, and marketers can’t either. They want information and insight quickly, and they want technology to deliver that speed. IIEX has always been a celebration of market research start-ups and new technology, and the wider industry has caught that bug. Technology, enabling automation, enabling speed, enabling scale – get it right and everyone benefits.

CO-OPETITION AND CELEBRATION

The research business is in the throes of massive change. But at IIEX it doesn’t feel like a battle for survival. It feels like a bunch of smart people trying to help each other figure out change. There’s a real sense of collegiality – people get excited by the innovative start-ups because they want to see bright ideas succeed. And this year a great initiative by Annie Pettit, who made it her personal mission to bring 25 brand-new speakers to the conference, meant it wasn’t just new technology that made an impression. One of those new speakers, KaRene Smith, won an award for her dynamic presentation about clear communication and storytelling. (And she had a start-up too!)

NO CHAIN, NO GAIN?

Every IIEX has its buzzwords. The biggest hype of the conference was surely blockchain, the distributed ledger technology which will change marketing forever…. whether or not you understand how it works. Or that’s the pro view – there are plenty of antis too. But at IIEX they were a subdued force, with a blockchain company, Measure, winning the prestigious start-up competition. In general we got the feeling that for all the big claims, nobody’s quite figured out how blockchain can help research. But a lot of people are trying.

Another big theme was video – firms like Stance and Voxpopme, who’ve been around for a couple of years, were having a moment, with insight providers latching onto the power of rapid-turnaround video to enhance quant data and give it the human touch. (Maybe some of those vox pops could explain Blockchain?)

SYSTEM 1 IS A COST OF ENTRY NOW

We have a soft spot for IIEX because a few years ago, when we were preaching the gospel of System 1 and behavioural science, IIEX were delighted to give us a pulpit where other conference organisers rolled their eyes. We’ve always found our best allies and most knowledgeable challengers here. So it’s exciting to come along in 2018 and realise that System…Won! Everyone acknowledges the need to appeal to the instinctive or unconscious mind, even if there are plenty of differences about how you do that. There are brilliant new interfaces (like the Tinder-style “swipe right” survey software) and new twists on the basic ideas, but they cant change the basic point. Measuring System 1 is a hygiene factor now.

THE DOG THAT ISN’T BARKING

At any conference it’s worth looking out for the subjects people aren’t talking about – those gaps are where you can make an impact. And excellent though IIEX was, when we sat down and compared notes, we both noticed the same thing. There was a lot of talk about technology. There was a lot of talk about data. And about System 1 and System 2. But not much talk about outcomes.

What do you do with all that data? Before every researcher wanted to be a unicorn, they wanted to be a trusted adviser – someone to act as a consultant to brands, answering the question, “What if it was my money at stake here?”. Very few people were talking about that at IIEX. But the need for consultancy hasn’t gone away. And agencies that can fulfil those needs will be well placed to navigate the next round of massive change.

Thanks to Greenbook and the organisers for another brilliant conference – see you in 2019!

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