But we knew that all along

The main problem I have with Mark Ritson’s research into ad-viewing is its lack of real insight (MW last week).

His study’s unsurprising outcome – that advertisers need better ways to measure spend – is of little strategic value. It delivers no actionable insights into emerging opportunities for businesses to innovate into. How will tomorrow’s consumers interact with TV and what happens, for instance, if the lounge is no longer considered the main venue for TV viewing?

As for the methodology, one can’t deliver insight into current and emerging behaviour simply by observing people with cameras – you need rigorous integration of data from various sources, including focus groups, discourse analysis, macroeconomic data and, above all, field data from ethnographers living in, feeling and being part of each household.

The Government, broadcasters and major companies including Unilever, Tesco, Vodafone and Orange would concur, after absorbing findings that corroborate those in Ritson’s study. Since 1999, they have been running an ongoing series of ethnographic studies into emerging media and technology consumption in the home, called Octagon.

While Ritson’s observations may be correct, he has quite probably drawn ethnography into disrepute. He has also wasted a very public opportunity to show business how the tools deployed by marketers can aid growth: surely our raison d’être?

Scott Walker


Happy Dog

London NW1


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