Marketers Told to Trust Their Instincts

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Boston— While market research may play a key role in promoting products to consumers, gut instinct can be just important, top marketing executives told CTAM Summit attendees here on Wednesday.

“Your gut feeling is just as valuable as any kind of macro research,” said Michael Davies, producer of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Wife Swap and other shows, during the closing general session.

Yahoo Inc. chief marketing officer Cammie Dunaway said that detailed research available to Internet companies means she doesn’t have to listen to her gut feeling. “All I have to do is listen to consumers,” said Dunaway, citing how Yahoo predicted the winner of Fox’s most recent American Idol competition by gauging the number of times that women 18-to-34 ran search queries for the eventual winner.

Time Warner Cable CMO Sam Howe said his company does run a lot of market research studies and focus groups. But he said the new “Start Over” service — which lets digital-cable subscribers start shows they missed from the beginning — didn’t require much research or marketing to consumers.

“I love focus groups. But if you set them up badly, you’re going to get the answers somebody wants,” Howe added.

Howe also said one of Time Warner’s primary concerns in the rollout of new Sprint Nextel Corp. mobile phones later this year is improving battery life for the devices, which will be able to transmit mobile video content.

And Davies said Internet companies can offer more attractive compensation packages to producers than some traditional TV production outlets. He cited Yahoo’s The 9 daily show, produced by Davies, in which he receives a cut of the advertising revenue.

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