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6 Ways Adland Can Ride the Quiz Craze

Trends and Insight 231 Add to collection

Laura Swinton looks at the opportunities of the humble personality quiz

6 Ways Adland Can Ride the Quiz Craze

We live, arguably, in an era of the greatest self-knowledge humanity has ever seen. Pity our poor, blinkered ancestors who struggled their whole lives without even knowing which ‘Friends’ character was their soul mate. Blindly spending 18 hours a day sweeping chimneys without ever once stopping to meditate on what piece of furniture they would be.  Yes, the humble personality quiz has been having a moment, eating up productivity and clogging up Facebook timelines. And while it has produced a host of opportunities for brands (just yesterday we got a story from, err, feminine hygiene brand Kotex about their new ‘Undie Personality Test’), the personality quiz craze could prove more useful in other areas of the advertising industry. Here’s how to make the most of it:


1. Choose Your Weapons Carefully

Scientific validity has never been much of a concern for Buzzfeed when it comes to quiz construction. One time I was told that of all the Batman villains, my alter ego was The Penguin. I mean, really. But if you want to start mucking about with psychometrics, you really should be using something with a bit of evidence to back it up. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve heard of companies trying to hock variations of the highly woolly, Carl Jung-inspired Myers-Briggs test to agencies in exchange for large chunks of cash. It’s a lot of nonsense, for several reasons, as this Guardian article explains. And there are plenty of other similarly expensive, similarly spurious tests out there. The Five Factor Personality quiz is a good place to start – it’s reliable and widely used amongst psychologists and other academics. Plus there’s a free version you can play with here.


2. Refine Your Strategies

“Meet Jane. She’s 20-35 and earns £30-40,000 a year. She reads celebrity mags and newspaper style supplements. Oh, and she just LOVES buying shoes.” Hmmm. Quite. The traditional approach of targeting brands and advertising tends to favour age, gender, income and media-watching habits. Which is just great if you’re say approaching 30, female, couldn’t give a toss about shoes and is more interested in comics than celebs (yes, I’m talking about me) – you end up being bombarded with superficially ‘targeted’ advertising that both turns you off and leaves you feeling pretty patronised. Or you find yourself watching your favourite TV show only to be overwhelmed with irrelevant advertising in the show breaks. The problem with the traditional method of constructing audiences is that it’s all about averages and can quickly descend into stereotypes. Maybe personality traits could provide a new, refreshed and relevant way to target new products? One 2012 study found that ads framed with certain personality traits in mind were more appealing and persuasive for people who scored high on these characteristics.


3. Challenge Your Assumptions

Probably the best-known personality types are the introvert and the extravert. The terms were coined by Carl Jung and throughout the 20th century a lot of work has gone into finding out a)whether they are genuine phenomenon and b)if so, what really is the difference. The answers appear to be a)yes and b)it’s kind of complicated. The traditional image of the introvert as shy and socially awkward has been swept aside to reveal a more complex picture of someone who is not necessarily shy but who needs down time and can suffer from overstimulation. And that’s not the only assumptions that have been overturned with recent research. In 2006, research from IPSOS and IGN challenged the assumption that videogamers were, on average, introverted. And there has been some really interesting research on introvert and extravert behaviour online and on social media that suggests the stereotype of the introvert who spends their life online isn’t quite accurate. The lack of anonymity in current social media platforms is a major turn off for introverts. The lesson is, you might think you know who you’re targeting and how they behave, but a little bit of research can help prevent you from straying down the wrong path.


4. Be Economical with Behavioural Economics

What’s more, different personality traits can also have a bearing on behaviour – so it seems that the fad for ‘behavioural economics’ is pretty rudderless if it doesn’t come partnered with an appreciation of personality psychology. When it comes to encouraging new behaviours, it’s always worth bearing in mind that personality traits can also influence how we choose to react to these nudges.  The Missouri School of Journalism constructed their own personality test measuring motivation and risk-taking, and found that individuals who were inclined towards high risk-activity were also more likely to engage in social media – the more risk averse are more likely to just scroll social media.


5. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone was nice

I’m not about to advocate quizzes as a formal HR tool – can you imagine the kind of company that looks at scores and not stories, in search of the next identikit employee? And neither am I going to say that psychometric or personality tests should be mandatory – at the end of the day if nothing else is private, one’s inner self should at the very least be left alone. Having said that, I’ve also found that intergroup friction can usually be tempered by a bit of understanding. If you get why somebody operates and interacts the way they do, you can also figure how to get the best from them. Informally getting your quiz in a non-hierarchical manner could help with a bit of team building.


6. Be Less Annoying

Is it possible to interrupt without being irritating? The jury’s out on that one, but in the mean time we can at least dial down the annoyingness. One’s personality is bound to direct what really annoys them. While introverts might be irked by brand-driven entreaties to social interaction, novelty-seekers and extraverts might be bored rigid by classic, plain design. The world of personality research is rich and there’s a lot of work happening in universities around the world – and if the personality quiz fad is anything to go by, it might even be a tiny, tiny bit easier to recruit people for research. It could even counteract marketer’s tendencies towards blandvertising and ensure the ads of tomorrow are full of personality.


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LBB Editorial, Wed, 07 May 2014 16:21:59 GMT