Posts by : Rob

Everybody Lies

January 18th, 2018 by

This is a great book about how we tell the ‘truth’ more to our browser search window than any survey. There is some disturbing stuff in here, but at least it feels like we are hearing real voices. I have spent a long time in research thinking that what we tell researchers is a highly sanitised and rationalised version of our lives, and it is so refreshing to get something raw and unfiltered.

What I am now thinking about is how we can integrate these streams of desire or anxiety or even shame into a better understanding of the world and our fellow human.

And how we can connect better and with more integrity, and maybe even do some good.

I was reading Tracy Fellowes piece on Mediatel

on how brands should not get in the business of censorship, and that struck a chord too: so how can we be a force for good in our business, or if not for good then at least for truth?

Some Free Stuff From COG

December 15th, 2017 by

We picked up an award along with our great friends at Exterion Media last week, for the work we did with them on advertising on the Underground.

There is a great video about the project here and we thought we would share some other links to work we have done over the past few years


Click here to see the Exterion Story:

We have done a number of projects with Channel 4 and the TV industry in general

Here is a link to some published work about premium VOD vs YouTube and social media ads

Sometimes we get involved in issues like happiness and trust – and here is a link to a study we did on brand trust and the mood of Britain (before Brexit, so who knows what it is today!)


And finally some work we are particularly proud of: working with Lloyds Banking Group and Adam and Eve DDB to understand the way diversity is portrayed in advertising


Inclusivity in Advertising

January 3rd, 2017 by
Full report just published on Lloyds website

Full report just published on Lloyds website

Last year we worked with Adam and Eve DDB and Lloyds Banking Group to build a new understanding of how people saw advertising from the point of view of including minorities. The project included desk research, semiotic analysis (conducted by our Swedish partner, Beyond), quant and qual elements.

We learnt that minorities are poorly represented, that most people don’t feel advertising represents them well, and most people over estimate the proportion of people from minority groups in the country. Post Brexit, the implications of these findings make even more sense, but they highlighted the opportunity to create ads that included and represented Britain today more accurately and inclusively.

It was a hugely satisfying project to work on and the findings have just been published – you can see the report at

Helping to educate children to overcome prejudice

November 28th, 2016 by

COG Research worked with the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme, Changing Faces (a long time client of ours) and Tetherdown School in London to test whether lessons and experience can overcome deep seated prejudice against facial disfigurement.

We have used IAT tests in the past to measure how much unconscious prejudice there is against facial disfigurement, and found that the levels are twice as high than for other common unconscious prejudices (or to be accurate, unconscious negative associations) such as race or sexuality.

We unconsciously find it easier to associate positive values with faces, races or other groups we are ‘comfortable with’, and can more easily associate negative values with other groups.

We tested the 10 and 11 year old children in London before and after a series of face disfigurement exercises: we found they were less negative than adults (11% more negative vs. average 27% for adults in UK), and after the days sessions they were only 1.5% more negative – a fantastic result.


See all about this at BBC Iplayer Victoria Derbyshire 28th November at 9 15: we are hoping to get a copy of video live on our website too.


Good Night at the MRG Awards 2016

November 19th, 2016 by

COG and Exterion had a great night last night at the MRG awards in Warsaw. With stiff competition we picked up the coveted Best Research Initiative paper award for our work on London Underground – the Engagement Zone.

The paper was well received and has generated a lot of interest both in terms of the results and the methodology. We combined Eye Tracking, Desk Research (thanks to Bournemouth University), Skin Conductance, Implicit Testing and Qualitative Interviews to get a really robust picture of how ads work underground.

You can see more about the story at

We are more alert outdoors

April 25th, 2014 by

The outdoor media industry has claimed for some time that there is a communication benefit from reaching consumers in the out-of-home environment, as we are more alert, active and purposeful. We have just published an innovative research project conducted for the Outdoor Media Centre that proves we really are using our brains more out of doors.

The research was a first for the UK. To view the full article click the link below:

COG OMC active space article from M Week

Secrets of a happy brand

March 5th, 2014 by

The work we did with ad agency Isobel has just been released in Marketing Week. It follows on from the work we did with The Guardian on mood of the nation, and focuses on our implicit feelings about brands. We will be posting more detail in the next few weeks but here is the Marketing Week story20140305-112440.jpg

See me, feel me

March 4th, 2014 by

At COG we are getting great results with the combination of HD eye tracking glasses and skin conductance recording (SCR). Our team are out in the field today with willing subjects recording everything they look at and the brain activity it is triggering. We have developed this in association with Dr Amanda Ellison at Durham University and the first results will be published next month.
It is already clear that combining eye track data and SCR gives us great extra information about how we are engaging with or reacting to stimuli. We had fun tracking response to Winter Olympics footage. Even the curling provoked some big spikes in activity!

The next step is to go back to our subjects and review the footage and the reaction track with them: good old fashioned ethnography. We are grateful to Tracksys and Acuity for their endless technical support as we deal with the practicalities of field recording multiple data streams for a whole day. Now we can record onto an iPod and a Samsung phone we have something a respondent can wear on the tube or at the gym. Unfortunately it is a very long day for our interview team as they have to meet them first thing and pickup the kit last thing at night. Then download the data overnight and start again the next morning. The joys of innovation!

Which implicit test is best?

December 13th, 2013 by

At COG we have been working with implicit testing for 8 years now, in collaboration with the developers of the original IAT test at Harvard, adapting that for commercial use, building a simpler IRT test to measure multiple brand values, and adapting that to measure social attitudes. We are lucky to have had clients who have supported us in testing and developing these alternative approaches and thought it useful to share a few early findings:

IF you want to get at deep seated social attitudes and prejudices then the original IAT test is still best. It is technically robust and can prove negative or positive associations in a way that convinces almost everyone. That will be why Adam and Eve DDB and ourselves picked up an APG Strategy Award last month for the work we did on facial disfigurement for Changing Faces.

IF you want a more user friendly way of measuring social attitudes and feelings then the Social IRT test is best – this uses speed of response to identify which issues we feel strongly about (either positively or negatively) and is quicker and more user friendly than the classic Likert scale approach. We used this recently with The Guardian on their acclaimed Concerns and Contentment work.

IF you want to track brand attitudes and the effect that digital communication, sponsorship or good old fashioned ads are having – then the IRT is great. In a 2 minute test you can measure your brand and 3 or 4 competitors on 15 benchmark values to produce a sensitive map of how you are doing.

IF you want to measure other things than brands, then the IRT can still help – we have recently used it to monitor attitudes to sufferers of different health conditions.

There is a lot of interest in Implicit Testing at the moment – because it is measuring the part of our mind that is influencing most of our behaviour and purchase decisions. We can only expect implicit tests to become more popular in future – but one thing we have learnt is that they need real design care to get the algorithms right. Just because they look simple doesn’t mean they are easy to build. But if they are well built they give wonderfully clear and intuitively believable results that don’t need a PhD to interpret.