Please click the play button to begin the video
A convergence of available technology, infrastructure, and mainstream communication behavior is making the use of video content possible for a wider range of online qualitative research. As more online qualitative researchers are asking for video content from participants, best practices are starting to emerge from real-world experience. The 10 tips below are drawn from our experience at itracks and conversations with our early-adopter research clients. The tips have been grouped into three areas:
- Quality of Recruitment/ Instructions
- Probing Strategies
- Post-Field Processing of Video Footage
With Facebook, YouTube and smartphone usage on the rise, the general public is becoming more capable and comfortable with recording and posting video content. Some people, however; find it challenging and self-assessment of technical skills related to video can be inaccurate.
Because of the wide range of video-related skill sets and widely-varying interpretations of what words like “video” mean to people, the language used in instructions needs to be very specific. “Take a video of yourself buying some apples in a grocery store” may elicit video uploads ranging from a “movie” with titles/transitions/special effects, including entering the store through to the cashier, to a 5-second shot of someone picking up an apple.
Many qualitative researchers, especially those from a facilities-based focus group moderator background, are used to probing from what the participants say, not what they do. Body language may be taken into account, but often more for insights into group interaction and mood than real world behavior.
This difference in starting points for probes may be obvious to ethnographers coming from a background of non-intrusive behavioral observation. However, video-based research is providing access to people making purchase decisions in their actual retail outlets, trying a product in their homes, and other real-world observations available to a whole new segment of qualitative researchers. Sometimes participants verbalize what they are thinking about during real world behavior; and sometimes they require probing.
I recently moderated an online discussion board where participants uploaded video of themselves purchasing tomatoes. In the initial online discussion, a participant talked about tomato selection criteria such as being blemish-free, deep red, and round. When looking at his video, however, I noticed that he was picking up many tomatoes with similar-looking blemishes on them, rubbing the blemish, then selecting some and not others. Asking the participant about this seeming inconsistency between his statements about blemished tomatoes and his behavior appeared to open up a floodgate of recollections about the actual purchase decision. In his real world, the ideal tomato often doesn’t exist and the participant needed to make tradeoffs as to which imperfections he would accept. He was feeling the blemishes for inconsistencies in firmness right around the blemish. He used this to judge if the blemish was likely to penetrate deeply into the tomato and impact taste. He also started to recall many details related to optimal shapes for various types of tomatoes that didn’t come out in the initial discussion.
A consistent “war story” we heard among early adopters using participant video posts is the time it took to analyze and create deliverables like video highlight reels from the large amount of video footage that can result from these studies. It’s a case where there is so much you can do with the footage…especially with full-featured video-editing software…that the scope of the activity can quickly overwhelm the time budgeted for it.
The good news is there are solutions to this, with the right analysis plan, tools and management of client expectations.
I hope you find these recommendations useful as you explore the use of video content in your own online qualitative research. They are far from a comprehensive list, and the itracks’ team is continuously learning and sharing new best practices from real-world experience. As I mentioned in the video introduction to this article, we look forward to hearing from you… about your successes and emerging needs in this constantly evolving area.
Questions, Comments? Feel free to contact Dale Watts at Dale.Watts@itracks.com