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The100: Me-search, TikTok trends and Vampire Problems

Fancy a day out of the office?

Roll up, roll up! Tickets for our in person event, You Are Not Your Consumer, are now live. The theme of the day is how to better understand people not like you. 

We have 10 superb speakers lined up, including regular cast member of The100, Rory Sutherland (somebody pinch me). 

It’s in London on 16th May, tickets are free and over 240 people have already registered. You can get yours here. 

It’d be great to see as many Centurions there as possible (the newly coined, collective noun for readers of The100. I’m quite pleased with it.)

No better than a coin toss?

HRH of Marketing Best Practice, Jenni Romaniuk, has asked whether anyone would notice if AI took over making marketing decisions? 

“Each participant saw a randomised set of five pairs of ads, one generated sales, one did not, and they just had to pick which one of the two ads generated sales for the brand […] Marketers, with all their wealth of experience, came in at a whopping 52%. The best performers were actually from the insights department, with 61% accuracy. Forget AI, at this stage perhaps we could replace marketers with a coin toss when selecting ads?” 

Jenni goes on to explain why and how we should focus on building expertise (not experience, there’s a difference) to make us less easily replaceable by AI.

AI can, however, help us do the more repetitive work faster. And here’s Tom Roach with some examples of how that’s currently being done in marketing.

State of the digital nation

Every year Simon Kemp publishes a Digital Global Overview Report and the 2024 edition is now ready for your perusal. It really is an incredible piece of work. 

There’s an 8 min executive summary if you don’t fancy the written report or 561 slides.

“Effort is not a good proxy for effectiveness”

Rory Sutherland is on sparkling form as he ponders why bosses and newspaper headlines are so suspicious of remote working.

“It’s true that [Michael] Phelps is an amazing swimmer. But as a form of locomotion, swimming is rubbish […] All of which is a roundabout way of saying that effort is not a good proxy for effectiveness […] And I can’t help wondering whether the authors’ suspicion of remote work partly arises from the fact that it’s less effortful […] so little faith do we have in people’s ability to use their time wisely, we assume that the mere fact people like it makes it less unproductive.”

Vampire Problems

10 Useful Concepts written by Ian Leslie is another great read. I love the idea of Vampire Problems. Minus K is very relevant to the world of research, as is the Abilene Paradox:

“If a group makes a decision, that must be because all or most of its members willed that decision, right? Not necessarily. The management writer Jerry Harvey asks us to imagine a family sitting at home in Coleman, Texas, when the father-in-law suggests a drive to Abilene, fifty miles away. The father-in-law doesn’t actually want to go but he thinks the others are bored. The mother says, “Sure” just to be polite. The husband, who really doesn’t fancy the long drive, says “Great idea” because it seems like everyone else wants to go, and…Well, you get the idea: a group can decide on a course of action despite none of its members wanting to take that course of action.”

And another for the list – TikTok’s loud budgeting trend which encourages people to be vocal about their money conscious decisions. 

And finally…

Nothing like the randomness of people – Don Bolles might be the only person in the world who collects lost pet posters.

QI’s recent word of the day was ‘Mesearch’ – using personal experiences when studying academic questions; also known as ‘autoethnography’. 

And an excellent piece (h/t Storythings) on how a writer fabricated multiple stories for Atlas Obscura. Wild! 

Lastly, John W. Gardner gave a speech on “Self-Renewal” to McKinsey back in 1990. I encourage you to read the transcript – it’s truly excellent. h/t Neil Perkin.

Latest from the research oven:

How is social media impacting the way people clean their homes and what they use to do so? Annnd what do the brands most at risk of being replaced *cough* big master brands *cough* need to do to avoid being switched out as a result? We’ve been finding out for you.