Kelly Goldthorpe

This year the A.C. Nielsen Center enjoyed its 25th Anniversary with more than 160 alumni, board members, and industry guests who came back to celebrate!

The Summit kicked off with our Executive Advisory Board meeting and dinner, where Gil Churchill, Bob Drane, and Janet Christopher gave a presentation on the history of the center. Current Nielsen students already knew Bob and Janet, but we only knew Gil Churchill as the man who, literally, wrote the book on marketing research. Little did we know, but that isn’t all for which Gil is known. During dinner, Scott Keplinger, Tom Krause, and Heather Uhland (the first graduating class for the Marketing Research MBA) told the story of the high standards Gil held them to back in the day, earning him the nickname of “The Hammer”. To honor him, they presented him with a hammer trophy and crooked nail to commemorate all of the “straightening out” he had to do with them over the years!

The Hammer

The following day at the Summit, the Nielsen Center tradition continued with rooms full of curious minds asking good questions. With the theme, “The New Marketing Research Frontier” this year’s Summit had a variety of speakers focusing on four different tracks including digital, academic research, data analytics, and qualitative research. The Innovation Fair was a new addition to the Summit this year and included opportunities to play with some of the latest technology, such as Lowe’s Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets or gamified mobile surveys from Upfront Analytics.

The Innovation Fair

I spent the day camped out in the digital track, first sitting in on The Digital Consumer Collaborative panel with Stacey Symonds (Orbitz). One of my favorite insights they discussed from their work with the collaborative was about the movement from being a digital native (that’s almost everyone these days!) to becoming context comfortable. This shift implies an acceptance of companies curating data on you as a user, with the expectation of an exchange with a better consumer experience. This ties into another insight that consumers want technology to close the gap between thinking about something and getting the job done. For example, going from “I really need to get that rent check in the mail” to bill autopay. It raises the question, how can your brand reduce friction and become an automatic partner choice in the lives of your consumers? One other insight I found especially interesting was about the concept of queuing, the digital version of a to-do list represented by multiple tabs open on a browser, or the apps that make the smartphone home screen. I see it as the digitized version of a consideration set, and something I do all the time! 

The innovation theme was strong throughout the conference, with Barry Calpino’s keynote address and many industry experts come back for the event, including Jeff Miller from Burke who moderated the emerging technologies panel. To end the event, as with any good anniversary celebration, we enjoyed a reception with ice cream, cake, and Spotted Cow!

Thanks to all the alumni, board members, and guests who attended the Summit. It was a highlight of my experience in the A.C. Nielsen Center and I can’t wait for the next one as an alumni myself!

Learning at the Innovation Fair
Students and alumni using new technology at the Innovation Fair
Opening Panel_2015 Summit
(Back to Front) A.C. Nielsen's Neeraj Arora moderates the opening panel: Bianca Pryor (BrainJuicer), Jeff Miller, (Burke, Inc.) and John Copeland (eBay).

Note from Sarah Kervin: For those of you who attended the 2015 A.C. Nielsen Center Alumni & Friends Summit and would like to keep the conversation going, look through the attendee list, or review some of the presentations please visit the Summit Sitecore page. The username and password is located in your registration email or your workbook from the day of. If you need me to send you the username and password again please feel free to email me.

To read student take-aways please click here.