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Andy Buckley Andy Buckley Innovation Director , Join the Dots
The 5 R’s of Great Video Research

The 5 R’s of Great Video Research

Like many in our industry, I’m really excited about the potential of video to better understand people by observing their needs, attitudes and behaviour (rather than just asking questions).

Over the last 2 years at Join the Dots we’ve had a lot of success in three areas of video-based research:

  • Collecting video at speed and scale (e.g. survey voxpops and capturing in-the-moment customer experiences)
  • Mobile self-ethnography (e.g. U&As, lifestyle diaries, purchase journeys)
  • And to a slightly lesser extent, using professional filmmakers for high end video production.

There’s been a wave of fantastic technology to help drive forward this push from the likes of voxpopme, Indeemo and Watch Me Think. But to realise all the benefits from this technology, we also need to apply great research thinking, and over a number of trial studies we’ve refined our approach and come up with the 5 R’s of great video research:

  1. Reason
  2. Reflect
  3. Recruit
  4. Ready
  5. Relate


Firstly, challenge both yourself and your client about the reason why you want to collect video. There’s no point doing it just because video is the latest thing or a client stakeholder wants it. We’ve found it helpful to ask a couple of questions ourselves at the proposal stage:

  1. Are we going to use video as a communication tool to help land the insights with more impact, as a data collection tool, or both?
  2. And if we are using video for data collection, what is it going to add or replace in terms of traditional questions? Not everyone likes using video to take part, so it can be counter-productive to replace traditional questioning with videos just for the sake of it – for example with older people, or those who are happy just taking part in surveys.


Think carefully about what you are asking people to do at the research design stage, for example:

  1. How much effort are you expecting people to put in:
    • Will they have to leave the house or do anything in public like film in-store?
    • Will they have to interview others or get someone else to film them, so that you can better observe their actual behaviour?
    • Is the nature of what they are filming sensitive and to what extent is this private behaviour?
    • The reward has obviously then got to be fair and appropriate to what you’re asking them to do, not just the time but also the level of privacy that you are invading
  2. Secondly, think about the different video methods available in relation to what you want to capture. In our experience, a 1 minute vox pop is unlikely to get you any more than a talking head video with someone almost thinking as they speak. This is great for capturing in-moment service experiences and giving your presentation some impact, but if you want more consideration and reflection, then a staged set of tasks over time using mobile diary apps is more appropriate
  3. Finally, a key watchout in this area is very simple: don’t expect someone to do anything you wouldn’t also be prepared to do yourself

Read the full article here on Insight Platforms.

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