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Unveiling the mystery of brand tracking: The top questions answered by trackers

May 10, 2023

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Lars Pahlman

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To kick off our series on the ins and outs of brand tracking we are starting with the basics. More specifically, the types of business questions a brand tracker can answer. In our perspective here at Nepa, brand tracking is an essential business tool to make informed business decisions. Unfortunately, many companies tend to underuse their brand trackers. It’s often primarily used to measure KPIs for internal reports, with results only looked at every month or quarter. However, to stay ahead as a brand in an ever-evolving world, it is crucial to continuously measure, analyse and adapt your business strategies. Here is where really making the most of your tracker comes into play.

Tips to increase the value of your brand tracker: Check your measurements

A well-designed tracker can answer a broad set of business questions. These go beyond the basics of simply following some sort of brand funnel or key management KPIs such as consideration, preference, and purchase/usage perspectives. Some of the typical questions that a Nepa brand tracker can answer include: 

Brand awareness: To what degree are people aware of your brand, and are your marketing efforts paying off?

Brand and competitor perception: How do people perceive your brand and your competitors? Are you seen as trustworthy or untrustworthy, innovative or old-fashioned? How do you compare to your competition?

Marketing impact: Are your marketing campaigns resonating with your target audience, and do they have a lasting effect? What actions should you take to optimise your marketing strategy?

Market drivers: Is your brand truly answering the needs and expectations of the market that are the true drivers of consideration or sales? Do you differentiate yourself on these factors when compared to your competition?

Customer loyalty: Are your customers more loyal to you or your competitors? What drives customer loyalty, and how can you improve customer retention?

Target audience: Who are the consumer groups that are most attracted to and purchase your brand, and how do they relate to the competing offerings out there?

Brand Tracking Dashboard Market's View

Tips to increase the value of your brand tracker: Focus on core business questions

If you want to elevate your brand tracking and make it an even stronger business tool, there are some additional things to consider in choosing both set-up and supplier:

1. The set of attributes that you include in your tracking is crucial to define how your brand, and competing brands, is seen by your consumers. If the attributes measured are not truly comprehensive, it will give you the wrong picture of your brand’s position, increasing the risk of making wrong business decisions.

2. A continuous brand tracker is far more useful as a business tool than those performed periodically in dips quarterly, or even annually. With a continuous tracker, you get several advantages that are crucial in a world where constantly changing demands is the only thing you can be sure of. In addition, this approach creates a granular time-series of data that can be connected to other continuous data sources, such as sales, visits, etc. This then offers completely new arena of analytical possibilities using predictive modelling and econometrics.

3. Often when setting up a brand tracker a lot of focus, and rightly so, is on getting your competitor list right and deciding on which brand associations to include. Less time is spent on background questions, which offer the possibility to add further dimensions such as target groups or situational perspectives. What you miss if these questions are not relevant to your category and carefully considered is the possibility to take the analysis, and thus the value of the insights, to the next level.

4. The possibility to calculate the value or equity of your brand is something that some brand trackers claim to be able to do, but are they really? It is essential to use a tracking module that truly delivers on the need to understand brand value. We at Nepa pride ourselves with our Willingness to Pay module that truly delivers. It is based on cutting-edge conjoint methodology that has been adapted work alongside continuous brand tracking, offering you insights into the true value the market is applying to your brand compared to competing brands. It means no more guesswork, no strange index solutions that are hard to explain internally, just a simple figure measured in your own currencies.

5. Your supplier should be an expert at analysing tracking data. Challenge them, and if you do not get even more value from the data that you are already collecting, simply change the supplier. Don’t get caught up in a sunk coast fallacy.

In conclusion, brand tracking is an always-on measure of how your brand is performing and how your market, customers, and prospects are changing. To maximize the value of a tracker, choose a well-designed solution that can answer a broad set of business questions, and consider our additional tips to take it to the next level. 

This post was co-written by Lars Pahlman, Senior Director, and Robert Beatus, Head of R&D.

Blog Posts

Tre’s brand revamp: Strategy for profitable growth

May 02, 2023

Stockholm, Sweden - March 3, 2021: Close-up view of the telecom operator 3 ( Hi3G Access AB) logotype at the head office in Stockholm.

Karen Chandler

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This post was guest authored by Jim Carlberg, who most recently held the role as Head of Marketing for telecom operator Tre/3.

“In early 2019, Tre had high brand awareness, but only 14% of the Swedish population would consider choosing us. Traditionally, we attracted customers with discounts, which impacted long-term margins and retention rates. Tre needed to make people really want to choose our brand again to get back to profitable growth.

So, we asked Nepa for help. We conducted extensive strategic work that resulted in a new strong foundation to build on; A completely different segmentation model for the market, new core target groups, updated definitions of drivers that create consideration, a revamped strategic position based on growth potential, and finally, a new communication concept.

The telecom industry in Sweden has often been associated with complex contracts, making it hard for people to compare operators. The analysis showed that a “simple, flexible, and helpful operator” would have a higher consideration – and this was attributes that most operators lacked. For us it suddenly became clear, we know Tre delivers on all these attributes, but our consumers didn’t.

Based on this insight we asked the question – How do we create a concept that both increases liking, consideration, and differentiates us from competitors?

We found the answer in Tre’s internal culture, which had been named among the top best workplaces in Sweden for several years in a row. With this as a starting point we could prove to the Swedish people who Tre really are, without making up an untrue story; the TREvliga operator (a wordplay with our brand name and the Swedish word for “friendly and nice”). Our new communication concept became effective because we chose to present what people look for in an operator whilst remaining true and unique to Tre. We removed all asterisks, avoided complicated terms, and pretentious words – we simply made it much more “Trevligt” for everyone.

Based on the clear direction and fresh insights from the work conducted with Nepa, we focused extensively on innovation and development over the next three years, launching products and services better suited to market needs, and marketed the brand and our offerings in a new and more interesting way.

“Trevligt” is now fully integrated in the business. It affects everything, from how we attract and onboard new employees, how we prioritize our roadmap for products and services, how we meet customers in all channels, and of course – our communicative expression and how we market Tre.

When “Trevligt” was launched, we managed to fill several needs with one approach. We started from something that was true for Tre, and that the entire company and culture could stand behind and live every day. We created something unique to the business that no other competitor could own. And we dramatized it in a way that broke through in an industry that is among the largest media buyers in Sweden, where everyone is essentially shouting about the same thing.

In other words, we questioned old truths, ignored what everyone else did, and aimed high on the value of building a strong brand from the inside out.

The results have been nothing but amazing. Brand consideration has increased from 14% to 18%, and Ad Liking doubled from an average 22% to 44% over the last campaign. The business is now flourishing – last year our customer base increased by 7.5%, with improved margins and profitability. Customer churn has decreased, and NPS increased by 12%. As a result of our new strategy, based on initial work with Nepa, last year we had the best financial year in Tre’s history since we started back in 2003.”

Jim’s top tips on how to best work with insights

Utilize market research to identify consumer needs: No more guesswork – to understand market trends and what’s really driving your customers behaviours is vital. Tre’s strategic work shaped our marketing and communication strategy, increasing all of our brand and business KPI’s.

Align marketing with brand values and culture: Tre used its top-rated company culture to create a communication strategy reflecting our values, differentiating us from competitors and resonating more with consumers.

Innovate based on insights and feedback: Tre’s focus on innovation and development, guided by market research and customer feedback, led us to increased satisfaction, reduced churn, and improved profitability.

About the author

Jim Carlberg is an experienced marketing executive, who most recently held the role as Head of Marketing for telecom operator Tre/3.

Blog Posts

Have your cake and eat it: How brand building campaigns can drive both short and long-term sales

April 20, 2023

Business portrait - businessman using laptop computer in office, thinking. Happy middle aged man, entrepreneur working online.

Karen Chandler

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These days, many companies earmark separate budgets for long-term brand building and short-term sales activation. However, here at Nepa we have been seeing an increasing number of examples, both in our own data and other meta studies, that successful brand building creatives can drive short-term sales too.

Consumers care less about what effects a campaign is designed to have, and more that it appeals to their current needs, views and personality  Too much focus on finding the right split between long and short-term benefits could therefore result in less effective campaigns and ultimately lower ROIs. 

More than a decade ago, evidence that most companies are underinvesting in brand building was successfully presented by Binet and Fields in their world-famous IPA paper “The Long and Short of It”, and marketers took note.  The publication suggested companies need to balance their marketing between long-term brand building communication and shorter-term activation marketing, with a suggested average split of 60/40 in favour of longer-term objectives. 

What does the latest research say?

In a recent piece of cross-media research Nepa conducted in conjunction with Meta, the results demonstrated that many channels yielded effects both in the short and long-term.

As seen above, most media types can contribute to both short and long-term effects, especially online video, social media, and display. The effect of long vs short is not only connected to media type but also the creative content in each media. So, this begs the question, can the same communication build both? 

We see similar indications when looking at our data on campaign creatives. It shows ads that perform strongly on brand building KPIs are not only driving long-term effects, but also short-term ones.

A typical objective for brand building communications is to evoke a positive emotional reaction among the audience that can be connected back to the brand. Hence, “ad-liking” is usually seen as an important KPI for measuring brand building effects in ads. On the other hand, “persuasive message” with a “clear call to action” are usually seen as important KPIs for sales activation. 

When we analysed our campaign performance database we can clearly see those campaigns with high emotional liking – the typical objective for brand building campaigns – are not only driving a positive brand perception, but they also trigger call to action effects, like purchases or website visits.  

Based on more than 3,000 campaigns in Nepa’s database classified in levels 0-6 by average liking score from lowest to highest. The green curve shows the change in short-term ad impact compared to the previous level of ad liking.

Campaigns with high “ad-liking” have a significantly higher short-term impact than campaigns with a lower “ad-liking” score. The more an audience likes the creatives, the more inclined they are to act directly.  

In summary, here at Nepa we have found evidence across different sources of data that successful brand building creatives can also help a company to drive short-term sales. Whilst focusing on both long-term brand building and short-term sales is important, we believe that businesses who focuses on creating the most effective messaging for their consumers will reach the perfect balance between long and short.  

Written by Thomas Berthelsen and Robert Beatus, Nepa’s Heads of R&D

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Salience vs. Differentiation: Is being famous enough for a brand to succeed or does differentiation really make the difference?

April 13, 2023

City Hall in Stockholm, Scandinavia, Sweden

Cajsa Wiren

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If you are a follower of the general marketing discourse on LinkedIn, Twitter, or in the marketing media, you’ll notice ongoing debates around supposedly opposing concepts – long-term versus short-term, traditional versus digital media, mass marketing versus targeting, etcetera. Each concept comes with its own dedicated following and active promoters swearing their view of the world is the correct one. A big, seemingly conflicting, topic that has sparked debate in recent years is the issue of salience versus differentiation.

At its core this is a discussion on the best route to brand growth. One side of the argument claims that improving salience, i.e., having a brand that people come to think of in many buying situations, is the only route. This implies that brands should only focus on making sure they are mentally and physically available to consumers in the right buying situations, and that building a differentiated brand position is a waste of time and resources. Team Differentiation, on the other hand, argues that brands need to find a meaningfully different position compared to their competitors or they will lose their relevance in the marketplace. The pendulum has been swinging back and forth on this topic over the years. Not long ago, most brands were focusing all their efforts into creating a differentiated position. However, salience has made a comeback thanks to the highly influential work of Byron Sharp and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute.

As entertaining as these polarised marketing debates can be, the truth is often that it’s not either/or. We need to consider both the long and the short term, traditional and digital media combined to reach the broadest audiences, etcetera. And the same goes for salience and differentiation. Both are crucial aspects of long-term brand building, but they play different roles in how they contribute to a brand’s growth.

How do Salience and Differentiation add to your brand growth?

Sharp and his colleagues have shown that salience is a key factor for growing volume and revenue via increased penetration and the activation of non-frequent buyers. But solely focusing on salience means ignoring another important benefit of having a strong brand, which is creating pricing power – i.e., that consumers are willing to pay more for your brand compared to competitors. This is where differentiation comes in. Brands that are very salient but lack differentiation against competitors are perceived as generic and can rarely justify charging a higher price for their products or services. On the other hand, a brand that is differentiated from competitors in a way that is meaningful and value adding for consumers can not only charge a price premium, but maintain it over time.

Well known examples of this strategy are Apple and Tesla. Both those companies have been successful in building a unique position as a niche brand, then grow their salience without compromising on their differentiation. This has allowed them to dramatically grow their market share over the years while keeping their price premiums intact. Then there are other brands, like Virgin and IKEA, that have built a unique brand position and then used the higher perceived value from consumers to keep a sustainable growth and expand their brands into other areas.

So, both Team Salience and Team Differentiation are right – salience grows volume and revenue, whilst differentiation builds and maintains pricing power, over time.

To ensure that investments are allocated in the right direction, brands need measurements and KPIs that capture both perspectives. Most brands measure salience in some way, either through brand funnel KPIs in a Brand Tracker or through other measurements such as share of search. A Brand Tracker usually also covers brand associations or attributes. This is an important way to keep track of consumer perceptions and the current competitive landscape. But brand associations should not serve as long-term KPIs of differentiation.

Achieving a differentiated position is a moving target – consumer needs and behaviours change, and a brand’s position needs to be adjusted to maintain differentiation over time. What sets your brand apart from competitors today may be category standard in just a couple of years. Thereby, the brand associations you choose as your main KPIs for differentiation will need to be changed and updated frequently, making them difficult to use as guidance for long-term strategy adjustments. Instead, brands should consider the end-goal of having a differentiated position and use pricing power as a KPI for differentiation.

At Nepa, we have developed a Willingness to Pay (WTP) solution that captures a brand’s pricing power. The solution uses Discrete Choice Modelling (conjoint) to simulate actual choice trade-offs and is a valid method to accurately measure and predict consumers’ willingness to pay for the different competitors in a market. It shows the incremental value that is created by a strong and differentiated brand in a simple, transparent KPI that can not only be quantified in monetary value, but also connected to market share development. Nepa’s Willingness to Pay can be added to our continuous Brand Tracking set-ups, providing brands with the KPIs they need to grow through both salience and differentiation.

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The Nepa Marketing & Insights Dinner 2023

April 04, 2023

A scenic view of the famous Somerset House in London under a wispy sky

Karen Chandler

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We recently held our annual Marketing & Insights dinner at the stunning Somerset House in London. It was an exclusive, invite-only event for marketing and insights leaders to network and exchange ideas. Brands such as Unilever, Heineken, and L’Oréal joined us for a gourmet three course dinner and reception, with presentations from Mars, GANT, Klarna, and some of the Nepa team on the theme ‘What are your key brand and marketing challenges in 2023?”

Throughout the night several common challenges came up from CMOs and CMIs across a range of different industries and regions. These included:

– Marketing budget being frozen or reduced, but with an expectation that marketing will still fuel growth.

– Reorganisations creating a lack of consistency for marketing and insights teams.

– Getting channel strategies right, thanks to the massive increase in digital activities and channel fragmentation.

However, the theme that was most discussed was marketing efficiencies and how to get the best bang for your buck. It’s something that we’ve been hearing a lot from our customers recently. How Nepa can help with this? And it all comes down to data. In order to make sure you’re making the most effective decisions, you need to understand the consequences. Our core Marketing Intelligence solutions are designed to do just this (and when combined can supercharge your insights!).

– Brand Tracking shows your brand and how it sits in the market. By measuring continuously you can see the immediate effects of your activities, and easily see what is working and what isn’t. It also collects data on your competitors, so you can view the impacts of their brand and marketing spend.

– Marketing mix modelling lets you see the effects of your marketing investments, without spending a penny. You can adjust your potential media investments, and see which blend allows you to hit your company specific KPIs.

– Campaign evaluations allow you to see how different messages work for different segments across different media, giving you the ability to optimise your creative content before you put any money into its creation and distribution.

It truly was a fabulous event. “Just wanted to say congratulations again for last night’s triumph”, “I really enjoyed the presentation and I met some interesting marketers”, and “The presentations were very insightful, the location unique and everything was very well organized” were just some of the feedback we received from attendees. If you’d like to join our next Marketing & Insights dinner, why not sign up to our newsletter? You can find it here:

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How “Tested Concepts” Shape Our Favourite Genres

March 31, 2023

Shot of a beautiful young woman holding a remote control while sitting on the couch at home.

Namrata Parmar

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Whether we realize it or not, many of our favourite movies, books, and TV shows adhere to certain “tested concepts” that have long-become associated with their respective genres. These ideas or themes have been proven successful in the past and are often replicated by creators looking to capitalise on the success of previous works.

But why do these “tested concepts” persist? One reason is that they appeal to the audience’s expectations and desires. Fans of Chris Hemsworth expect to see intense action sequences and thrilling stunts in his action movies, while romance fans want to experience the excitement of falling in love and the satisfaction of a happy ending.

Another reason is that certain concepts are successful in the market. When audiences respond positively to a particular type of story or theme, creators are more likely to replicate it in future works. This can create a feedback loop in which certain concepts become associated with a genre and are repeated over and over again.

Of course, there is a danger in relying too heavily on these “tested concepts”. Creators must find ways to put their own unique spin on them to avoid becoming too formulaic or predictable.

However, when used effectively, these “tested concepts” can help to establish the conventions of a genre and create a shared language between creators and audiences. By understanding the concepts and how they function within a particular genre, creators can use them to tell compelling stories that resonate with fans and stand the test of time.

Choosing the right concept

Concept testing is a vital step in a product development process as it helps to assess the viability of a new product idea. It’s important to gather as much feedback as possible from potential viewers, and use that information to refine and improve the product before investing time and resources into full-scale development. 

Nepa partnered with one of the largest global streaming service providers in order to do just that. They wanted to know which programme concepts would rank highest in popularity in the ‘Adventure’ genre in a specific market, so they knew where to focus their plans  

Set-up specifics: Up to 10 test concepts and 1-2 control concepts per genre tested. Selection based on natural fallout of men and women 15-74 into two groups of 500, both current & non-customers. 

Each wave started with respondents answering a couple of background and habit questions to segment them into the correct groups. Subsequently, respondents were then exposed to all concepts in a MaxDiff setup, where all respondents were repeatedly asked to select the one program concept out of two they believe will be the most popular. After going through all synopses, the respondent then answered a set of follow-up questions for a selected number of test concepts. 

One concept clearly struggled to gain traction. Respondents ranked it low on the willingness to pay and likelihood to watch scale. A reason for this might be the fact that this is a completely new concept, thus creating higher barriers among the respondents.  

But two Adventure programmes were clear winners, with the highest likelihood to watch and willingness to pay scores, whilst also ranking in the top 3 of the MaxDiff. They were obvious choices on which concepts to move forward. 

In conclusion, tested concepts have a significant impact on shaping our favourite genres. They provide a reliable framework for storytelling, allowing creators to explore and expand upon well-established ideas while also satisfying audience expectations. Whether it’s the “opposites attract” theme in romance, the hero’s journey in action, or the haunted house in horror, tested concepts provide a sense of familiarity and recognition for audiences, while also enabling creators to tell engaging and compelling stories. As such, these concepts are an essential part of what makes our favourite genres so beloved and enduring. 

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Nepa’s Brand Tracking Dashboard

March 31, 2023

Young latin professional business woman office worker analyst sitting at desk working on laptop thinking on project plan, analyzing marketing or financial data online, watching elearning webinar.

Karen Chandler

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The key to building a strong brand is to think long-term. Short-term sales activation can be highly profitable and efficient, but if you’re looking to build an enduring brand you also need to focus on the future.

To plot your best route for long-term success, you need to understand exactly how your brand is currently sitting in the marketplace. Nepa’s Brand Tracking dashboard looks beyond the obvious KPIs, and gives you ‘always on’ insights into your identity, reputation, and competition. These can help you confidently inform your future business plans, alongside giving you the data needed to justify your investments.

What makes our Brand Tracking dashboard so useful?

There are many reasons global brands choose Nepa’s Brand Tracking dashboard and find it such a key weapon in their marketing arsenal. As the Insight Manager for multinational telecoms operator Telenor told us “We love the Nepa dashboard, which is a valuable, hands-on tool to quickly help us with market insights.”

It gives you a holistic view

Different businesses have different priorities, which is why our Brand Tracker can be configured to give you a view of the metrics that matter most for your brand, from its strength and positioning, to your media performance and NPS. It also puts your brand in perspective by looking at the stats of your entire market, making sure you won’t miss any early warning signs.

It’s great for companies with different categories, channels, and markets, as all tracking and operational data can be combined in one place. You can therefore compare results, and see at a glance what is working and where you can improve.

Brand Tracking Dashboard Market's View

It’s ‘always on’

You don’t need to download separate software to access our dashboard, which means that your tracking data can be accessed from anywhere, at any time, by anyone who has been set up with a username and password. But you don’t need to worry about security – each dashboard has its own access control.

As it’s ‘always on’, all departments and locations can access the tracking data to see the effects of their region-specific campaigns, in close to real-time. This means that the data won’t get siloed, and can be used as a business tool to make informed decisions throughout the company.

It allows you to capitalise on fast-emerging trends

The dynamically updated dashboard gives you the data to make faster, better decisions. Being the first to react to fast-emerging trends always gives a brand the competitive edge. Understanding the real-time effectiveness of specific marketing activities and messaging gives your brand the knowledge of where to focus your energy going forward, to both act on hidden opportunities and protect against threats.

It’s continuous

A big drawback of many Brand Trackers is that measurements are periodic, via quota sampling. In most cases this methodology struggles to pick up real-world changes as it just takes a ‘snap-shot’ in time. Our tracking data is continuous, meaning that as your positioning and market share evolve, so do your insights, offering you the clarity to make the right choices.

You can trust your data

Brand Tracking is a great tool. But like all tools, not all are born equal. Depending on the methodologies used, Brand Tracking is not always precise enough. It can be a challenge to separate the signal from the noise of natural random error in a sample.

This is where our proprietary algorithm Brand Noise Reduction comes in. It analyses all of the respondent’s data, identifies correlations between their answer patterns, and how these fluctuate over a period of time. As a result, Brand Noise Reduction can distinguish between plain sample variations, and those that reflect real market changes. It has been proven to reduce random errors by up to 50%, boosting data accuracy and opening up possibilities for a more granular brand analysis.

Read more about Brand Noise Reduction here.

It’s easy to use

Many in the industry rely on standard PowerPoints or PDFs for their deliveries. Our Brand Tracking dashboard, however, is a much more interactive affair. You can view your data in a multitude of ways – broken down into different time periods, categories, and metrics. It also allows you to share insights across your organisation directly from the platform via a simple export, making data sharing simple.  

However, there are chances that you’ll have some questions when using your Brand Tracking dashboard. Whilst user guides and FAQs are great, sometimes you just want to ask a real person. This is why your Brand Tracking dashboard comes with a host of human experts to help you really make the most of your investment.

And what’s still to come?

Over the coming year we will be combining our Brand Tracking dashboard with our other Marketing Intelligence suite products; MMM and Campaign Evaluations. Our dashboard will become your one-stop shop for all of your marketing insights!

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What is Brand Tracking and why is it important?

March 17, 2023

what is brand tracking

Sam Richardson

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Brand Tracking is a vital ingredient in your marketing operations. Imagine setting up target goals, launching large and expensive campaigns, ramping up marketing costs and then crossing your fingers for the best. Sure, you can take your time and research your consumers’ behaviors and create a detailed blueprint for your marketing, but how will you be sure? This is where brand tracking comes in.

What is Brand Tracking?

Brand tracking is essentially a process where you can follow the changes of your brands perception over time. By continuously measuring your brands health, consumers opinions, momentum and associations, you will be able to adapt and overcome problems in real-time, not when it’s already too late.

Why is Brand Tracking important?

Understanding your brands strengths and weaknesses gives you a clear understanding on where to improve and focus your attention. It also gives you a good indication on how your brand compares to your competitors. The constant feedback will help you form the brand that you set out to create from the beginning and allow you to adjust accordingly. In-depth analysis on Relevancy, Customer loyalty, Delivery, Value, Reputation, Visibility and more are key components in forming a brand that will emotionally connect to your consumers.

What to do with the information from your Brand Tracking?

Once you know what your customers think of your brand, you are much better equipped to create campaigns that can either alter or utilize their perception in the most efficient manner. If you play to that perception, your customers will not only get a better and stronger view of your brand, they will also be more willing to listen to what you have to say. The results of your brand tracking basically makes it possible to get your audience to listen.

Why should I focus on my brand and not just performance campaigns?

You might look at your brand as the motor oil in your engine, and the performance campaigns as your fuel. Without the proper motor oil, you will need a lot more fuel to run the engine, and eventually the machine will break down and suffer critical failure. Also, using the wrong type of motor oil will reduce the effectiveness of the fuel. So to optimize the impact your performance campaigns have, you need a good understanding of your brand and how it impacts your customers, and to get that you need to continuously do a proper brand tracking.

Want to know more about brand tracking and how it can be done with ease and efficiency? Contact us and we’ll tell you all about it!

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Nepa and data quality

February 07, 2023

Stortorget place in Gamla stan, Stockholm

Karen Chandler

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There has been a lot of talk in the industry recently regarding poor data quality. High reversal rates (project deliveries that are deemed fraudulent) have been seen by many market research companies across the globe, and have affected consumer confidence. So what’s causing these reversals? The simple answer is cheaters: people taking part in these projects who try to cheat the system, usually for monetary gain. This can be by an individual, or professional survey cheaters with bots.

Here at Nepa we have combined a whole host of technical solutions and business policies to help discover and reconcile these fraudulent entries. This ensures that our data and insights are one of the best in the business, and helps our data suppliers fight the ever increasing trend of survey fraud.

What types of cheaters are there?

We have recently completed a deep-dive into the quality of our global data suppliers, and evaluated 7 key markers that could suggest a response being considered invalid:

This is simple. These are people or bots who repeatedly enter the same data. Knowing IP information and other digital footprint characteristics can also help identify these respondents. When using multiple supply sources, the risk for duplicates is higher and should be accounted for.

These are someone who is going through the questions far quicker than the average participant. This implies that they are not reading the questions fully and responding to them honestly. Nowadays, many survey takers are cautious about their survey pace (being aware of this marker) which makes speed racing alone a poor marker of invalidation.

Inconsistent repliers
These are people who give conflicting information throughout the survey. An easy way of identifying these is to ask them their age at the beginning, and then ask them their year of birth at the end to see if they match. This can be a powerful marker of bots.

These are easy to identify, as the consumer has simply used the same answer option throughout the survey.

Survey responses usually fit trends, so those that don’t appear to do so suggest the respondent has simply clicked random answers throughout. If applicable in survey, this can be a powerful method of identifying non-engaged respondents.

Sometimes respondents give non-serious answers for open ended questions. These can be analysed automatically in surveys, although the most powerful control comes from manual inspection. When a survey contains brand type of open-ended questions, the manual coding and correction of brand spelling is imperative.

Reputable outside companies can be used to assess the data, and give recommendations for those they believe are cheaters. They use AI and proprietary algorithms to take into account all of the points above, and more.

Once identified as fraudulent, we go back to our suppliers with the information, so they can be removed from the panels. This ensures that neither you nor Nepa are paying for dirty data.

With suggestions that 5-15% of market research data might be from cheaters failing more than one of above markers, how do you ensure that your research is giving you usable insights?

How to counteract fraud


There’s a large toolbox that can be used to identify cheaters in your market research. Some of those we use here at Nepa include:

Automated statistical analysis
Applying specific statistical techniques, preferably built into the survey flow, can aid in identifying cheaters. Working out the median length of interview and removing those that are far quicker is one to target speedsters. Maxdiff analysis can identify those responses that are more random than the average. Variance of grid question responses gives insights of straight-lining behaviour.

Manual feedback
Although they are more resource heavy than statistical analysis, setting up manual flags for questionable data is a great way of weeding out responses that analysis may miss.

3rd party software
Trusted third parties can be used to automatically identify dupes, fraudsters, bots, and survey farms. Their proprietary algorithms are great at recognising professional survey cheaters in particular.

A CAPTCHA test is designed to determine if an online user is really a human and not a bot. It is easy for humans to solve, but hard for bots and other malicious software to figure out.


Understanding your suppliers, your markets, and your data is key to counteract fraud. Automated reconciliation processes will support data suppliers in their work on keeping their online panels of high quality and may help turn the trend of increased fraud. Our recent deep-dive into our suppliers has shown us that samples in our different regions, suppliers, and industries all differ due to location specific variations. By understanding these differences, it is easy for us here at Nepa to add adjustments that negate these issues and ensure that your insights are as clean as possible. 

“Nepa’s focus on data quality continues to be a core of our business, in order for us to be able to deliver reliable insights to our clients. We ensure sampling consistency in combination with valid and engaged respondents, by well-established end-to-end processes and a toolbox of methodologies.”

Fredrik Olsson, Head of Data Procurement

For more information, please contact

Blog Posts

What are Brand Associations?

January 06, 2023

The Gherkin building

Sam Elliott

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Brand associations are the qualities, image, emotions, and concepts attached to your brand. These can be lots of different things, from images and symbols to colours and people. Think Nike’s swoosh. Some of the most memorable brands in the world have brand associations that are emotional: When thinking again of Nike, for example, some of the first words that come to mind are quality, athleticism, innovation. These traits in particular can help set your brand apart from your competition.

Some brand associations can be chosen and focused on through your brand image and marketing. However, some may just happen naturally without any planning thanks to good word of mouth publicity, the quality of the product, and even the brand’s own customer service. To build a strong, long-lasting brand it is vital to understand the influence these associations have.

Product based brand associations

In a fast-paced, competitive industry such as online gambling, the product itself can play a key role in brand differentiation. On one side you may have a brand that focuses on offering the best odds whilst another brand focuses on offering the fastest withdrawals. These features may set these brands apart from their competition but unless they are important to consumers, and most importantly these consumers are aware of them, the maximum impact will not be achieved.

To make sure brands are focusing on the optimal messaging, to the right people, at the right time, it is important that a brand’s communication plan focuses on the content and ensures it is delivered through the most appropriate channel. By understanding how consumers think about a brand, you can actively choose to drive specific brand associations that are key to your business.

How do you measure this?

Through the Brand Health Tracking at Nepa, we can help you determine what are the right associations for your brand to focus on to set you apart from your competition, whilst tracking this association over time to see if your marketing activities are having the desired impact to help you win.

Get in contact to find out more.