A MAD day in Oslo!

By John Pedersen

Norway is one of the smaller research markets in Europe, obviously connected to the fact that there are only 5 million Norwegians to survey. Despite this, Norway has a very active and large research community, organized in the Norwegian Market Research Association (NMF), dating back to 1970. Currently, NMF has 750 active members, with an even spread of agency staff and research buyers.

The highlight of the year for Norwegian NMF-member is the event known as MAD – the Market Research Day, normally arranged late in the fall. This year’s MAD was no exception, and gathered a crowd of close to 200 enthusiastic researchers in Oslo November 6th. The event has the last years been held as an all-day event, but starting from lunch, enabling attendees to work the morning shift, as November is also known as one of the most hectic periods in the year. However, with a full program from 12 to 7, followed by a great party, you really feel like you are having the full day on a conference (and for some of us, even more).

This year, the conference was kicked off by a Harvard professor, John Deighton, who talked about the role of traditional market research in a world of digital surveillance – a great presentation, and a perfect start for the attendees. This was followed up by a number of local speakers, talking about everything form young and demanding digital consumer, the use of geolocations tools to gather insight AND enhance user experience, on how Norway is going to have the worlds most advanced TV measurement from 2018, and of course the eternal research question post Brexit and Trump: Can we trust the political polls? Norway had parliamentary elections in September, and fortunately, the polls did great – so the answer from the (academic) speaker was an unconditional YES. Which is of course good news.

We also had ESOMAR joining us – Jan-Willem Knibbe gave a very informative and to-the-point presentation of how the research community can prepare for next year´s challenge: The implementation of GDPR. Jan-Willem could tell an engaged crowd that most of us will do just fine with the new regulations, if we prepare well – and that this could even turn out to be an opportunity for the research industry, which traditionally has been regarded as responsible and pro-active in these questions.

Finally, the conference part of MAD ended up with a smile with presentations on how Norwegians develop their Christmas spirit throughout November and December (more than 9 out of 10 Norwegians feel the Christmas spirit at Christmas Eve), and how the research community (represented by the MAD participants) is compared to the Norwegian population (which gave some very interesting insights, among them that researchers that are able to explain what a standard deviations is, are more happy than researchers that can´t…).

Then the MAD (day) slowly moved into the even MAD´er night – one of the agencies invited the whole industry for a vordrink, before the dinner kicked off and the party started. Was it a good party? I would give it a 10 out 10, but as for the details: What happens (at) MAD, stays (at) MAD…

John Pedersen, CEO of Opinion AS, Norway