ADTECH 2016 A natural fit: the marriage of digital and qualitative

April 25, 2016


Image via Stewart Barrett


Earlier this year Neale Cotton, Director at The Lab, and Steve Weaver, Head of Research & Analytics at Channel 9, presented at AdTech – Australia’s leading conference at the intersection of advertising and technology. The discussion focused on the ways in which qualitative and quantitative data can combine to help solve complex problems.


The media landscape has faced rapid, radical change in the last decade. There are more devices and digital touch points than ever before, increasing the complexity and necessity of online tracking. There has also been a role reversal of power: whereas the networks previously held the ace, the viewer is now in control, increasing the importance of understanding viewer’s needs. 

The challenge for media and entertainment organisations like Nine Entertainment Co (NEC) is how to connect with the right people, in the right moments, across a multi-screen journey. To do this, it's crucial to understand the relationship between devices, behaviour and needs.  


NEC is a data powerhouse, with a wealth of assets & sophisticated tracking systems at their disposal. NEC’s digital arm, Mi9, tracks a large number of devices (approximately 30m) and collates online behaviour (6m+/m): every interaction, every search – the entire digital journey. This information can be used to map digital touch points throughout the day and week, providing the who, what, when, where. Qualitative research can then be overlaid to answer the all-important ‘why’, allowing NEC to tailor relevant content and advertisements.  

The Lab’s research study focused on NEC’s morning TV breakfast shift, a long and complex period stretching from 5:30am to 9:00am, through the lens of one of NEC’s flagship properties, the Today Show. The audience is a shifting composition, with different demographics and different needs, requiring tailored content and advertisements throughout the show. 


In order to understand how to best service this complex breakfast audience (from both a publisher and advertiser POV), we used a combination of digital, qualitative, and quantitative research. In doing so we were able to bring to life the viewer’s morning breakfast world in detail, understanding the who, what, when, where, and importantly, the why. 

The real value was in understanding the moments within the morning TV breakfast slot, focusing on changes in demographic composition throughout the The Today Show. This helped us  better understand how to target (and win) specific audiences. For example, we focused on understanding the two demographics that increased after 8:15am, leveraging NEC’s digital data set and overlaying rich contextual needs through qualitative research.


Overall, the study was a shining example of the ways in which qualitative research can be paired with digital data to create a holistic research solution to a complex business problem.  


Sam