Katy Mogal of Logitech took attendees on a tour of digital ethnography and, naturally, provided some fascinating video clips in the process.
One of the most appreciated aspects of digital ethnography is the fact that it lets researchers see how things unroll over time. It is helpful that the participants who are engaged in the digital ethno projects have time to process and are not put on the spot - their responses may be more subconscious than constructed according to expectations that might be communicated by the researchers.
Other strengths of the approach include novelty and the dimensionality of getting access to the respondent’s world. In addition, it is convenient and compelling to let clients see the highlights of the qualitative raw data.
Disadvantages include a lack of ability to re-direct and probe, a fact which also mandates simplicity in task design. First-time agencies may struggle to fully leverage the platform, even though they may be eager to take the work. The information that is provided to the creatives – the design people - is especially valuable as it is accessible, appeals to them, and is of the nature that helps them do their design work.
This fun and brief presentation made digital ethnography seem both feasible and attractive. It can't be as easy as it looks, but Katie certainly made it look like it might truly be.
Gigi DeVault writes a market research column for About.com. http://marketresearch.about.com/