ESOMAR Asia Pacific Conference 2019 Doesn't Disappoint

Here are some of my conference favorites...

Our CEO, Ant Franklin, and I recently traveled to Macau for the ESOMAR Asia Pacific conference. The conference was packed with all kinds of presentations and activities that resonated with the theme: “celebrating impact.” Macau was an exciting place to visit, with the highest population density in the world (23,000 per Km2) and gaming turnover that is six times larger than the whole of Las Vegas! The event was held at The Parisian, which is part of one of the largest buildings in the world, with a floor area at a whopping 980,000 m2.

As always, I enjoy attending conferences like this to connect face-to-face with new and existing colleagues and clients. While this particular event seemed a bit slower than some on that front, we were pleased to be able to spend quality time with one of our Hong Kong clients, Cimigo, and several others. Aside from networking and meeting with prospects, the conference program was jam-packed with valuable content.

Some of my conference favorites included:

  • Internet Saathi: Building a Digital India for All,” a case study by Google and Kantar. The talk focused on measuring the short to long-term impact of digital literacy education in rural India, specifically how the “Internet Saathi” program has transformed the lives of millions of women across rural India. The speakers covered how providing basic training on using a smartphone has inspired entrepreneurship, social change, and personal growth. They talked about how to apply a simple framework to measure the impact of wide-scale interventions seeking to enact socio-economic change.

  • The Real Story Ends in Landfill” presented by The Behavioral Architects covered how they used behavioral research and insights to reduce the volume of unrequested goods sent from Australia during times of humanitarian crises in the Pacific Region. The speaker said that unrequested and often unsuitable goods sent to humanitarian disaster zones could cause disruption, so a project was launched to reduce this from happening.  He shared results of research from their study, which offers new foundations to reduce the number of these goods, as well as addressing the need to raise global awareness of the findings and ultimately benefit humanitarian crisis zones.

  • Optimizing ROI on Social Media: Emotive clarity reaps rewards” by Colin Ingram of NeedScope International delved into using machine learning and AI to help measure the ROI of social media expenditure. He demonstrated how the AI tool works, highlighted the role of archetypal alignment across touchpoints and delivered a practical framework where brands can precisely identify the nature of their optimal social media imagery. He stressed the need for using AI to encode images to match the message intended with the actual effect.

  • Driver Analysis as a Gateway to Advanced Analytics” by MRII and the University of Georgia was an interactive session that showed attendees how to do a basic driver analysis. Speaker Jeffrey Henning then introduced advanced analytics that can make it more powerful - all derived from an Advanced Analytics Techniques course at the University of Georgia. Jeffrey even mentioned Infotools when he was talking about the ability to correlation coefficients!

My favorite paper was by futurist Matt Armitage, who asked: “What does it mean to be human?” Matt asks some pointed questions, including:

  • What do we do as machines become more competent?
  • What if they become sentient?
  • What obligations do we have to treat machines ethically?
  • What are the chances they’ll return the favor to us?

Despite how loaded this topic is, Matt isn’t worried about the potential of AI to be an existential risk to humanity… are you? If you are interested in these questions, sign up for Matt’s podcast at

All in all, we had a successful time in Macau at the ESOMAR Asia Pacific conference and are looking forward to attending again in 2020!


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