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Monday, Jun 5, 2023

Survey Results

In this presidential election year, the folks at E-Poll Market Research have been getting to know the candidates just as well as someone intimately involved in the campaigns themselves. Once a month, the Encino firm, in conjunction with Forbes Magazine, publishes a poll that tracks which candidates are rising and falling with the public; their positive and negative attributes and how those influence the opinions of voters. What made this political season stand out during the primaries, said E-Poll President and CEO Gerry Philpott, were the strong personalities and physical traits of the candidates. Just as exaggerated physical characteristics make for a good cartoon so too do they make for good research for how they stick in the mind of those surveyed. “These were distinct personalities to the voters and it shows up in the E-Scores we did,” Philpott said. Simply put, E-Poll Market Research develops software products and online surveys used in the advertising, publishing and entertainment fields to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and to determine if those campaigns are reaching the right audience. The company’s products have evolved over time to anticipate the needs of the market and are designed with input from the clients who then vet them before being made widely available. Under the E-Score name, the company provides data on what makes certain personalities appealing when being looked at for a television or film role or as a company spokesperson; what real and rendered characters are most appealing to adults and children; consumer attitudes toward brand names; and the strengths, weaknesses and long-term success of more than 600 television programs. Clientele the company has built since its founding in 1997 include the William Morris Agency, Pepsi, Harley Davidson, Electronic Arts and the Motion Picture Association of America. “Media and the need to reach people cuts across any business, large and small,” Philpott said. In 2001, the firm began power rankings of celebrities on 46 personality attributes intelligence, sincerity, influence, articulateness, warmth, etc. that later were applied to the political realm for the rankings of this year’s crop of candidates running for president. When Forbes launched its ’08 Tracker in May 2007, the magazine declared that, while the individual results would be surprising and amusing taken collectively, they would provide accurate portraits of the candidates. In the first survey Sen. Hilary Clinton, for instance, topped the list as most aggressive, while Sen. Joe Biden, now Democratic running mate with candidate Sen. Barack Obama, was found to be “the least trustworthy candidate.” Polling Goes High Tech Philpott founded the company in the early years of the Internet and was raising money when the tech bubble burst. Originally conceived as an online marketing firm, panels used to test and survey entertainment products produced the most revenues and that is the direction Philpott followed. At the time the company started, phone surveys were the standard in the entertainment industry. That has since transitioned to the online surveys that are less expensive, have higher cooperation rates and are easier to do in an era when some people do not even have a land line at their home. E-Poll has access to 360,000 people it can survey from across the U.S. When Twentieth Television (a News Corp. entity) started using E-Poll in 1997, Joanne Burns, executive vice president of Marketing, Research, New Media, had to convince people that online surveys were not biased in favor of upscale and affluent respondents who had access to a computer. “Now it’s ubiquitous,” Burns said. “Everybody has accepted that online research reaches everybody.” The media research division at Warner Bros. Entertainment eased into its relationship with E-Poll because executives believed that phone surveys were more representative of the population. Higher broadband penetration in the home and strong cooperation rates made the division more comfortable with how E-Poll generated its data. “We use a number of suppliers and most all of them are moving toward online sampling,” said Bruce K. Rosenblum, executive vice president of media research. “It’s becoming more of an industry standard.” Recent work done by E-Poll for Twentieth Television was analyzing what impact putting episodes of a network show on cable prior to syndication would have on viewership. Warner Bros. tracks its performers against promotional campaigns for new shows. E-Poll sampling showed the likability of Bonnie Hunt jumped as commercials aired for her new talk show and she scored high in key traits viewers want in a host. “She is poised for success based on her profile after the promotion campaign we ran,” Rosenblum said. That traditional customer market research accounts for about 65 percent of E-Poll’s revenues, with the remaining 35 percent coming from sales of its software products. The goal is to get those numbers at 50-50, Philpott said. To achieve that, three growth areas have been identified in new media, product placement and branding. With traditional advertising revenues dropping as viewers have more choices of how to spend their time or can use digital video recorders to skip commercials completely, product placement has become a critical revenue stream for companies. By integrating a product a soda can, a detergent bottle, or kitchen appliance directly into a storyline viewers have little choice but to see it. What E-Poll can do is tell the companies if that placement was valuable and if that value was more than an ad buy would have brought, Philpott said. The importance of brands and branding emerged in the 1990s as large food, clothing and cosmetic companies shifted from the role of manufacturer to emphasize instead the lifestyle and experiences created by their products. Through brand polling, E-Poll can give clients information on consumer loyalty to their brands, identifying which attributes come to mind when they hear that brand name. That information then gets used to make comparisons with competitors, with other market leaders and for tweaking the presentation of the brand for the public, Philpott said. Brands, however, are no longer just products but can be real people, a distinction voters will find out as the presidential campaign moves toward election day and Obama, Biden, Republican candidate Sen. John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin define who they are. Are they well-spoken? Grumpy? Warm? E-Poll will let the country know. SPOTLIGHT – E-Poll Market Research Revenues in 2007: $5.3 million Revenue in 2008: $7 million (projected) Employees in 2007: 25

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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