My CHASE placement occurred over a six-month period in the London headquarters of Unruly Media, a global video ad tech firm. Unruly are an industry leader in the distribution of online video advertising—for instance, those ads and trailers that pop up when you are reading an article online, or that you might opt-in to play on your favourite website. My placement was slightly unusual in that it was based on carrying out a research project analysing an area of business need; in this case, finding out how people view ads silently (also called sound-off video), and how to create the most effective ads for this environment.
My background is in film and television studies, but my PhD looks at the marketing of American independent films from the mid-1980s. My interests have always tended to lean towards promotional materials, even though my methodologies and perspectives have drawn from a fairly traditional film studies background. However, moving straight into the world of advertising, and dealing with enormous data sets (as opposed to a close analysis of, say, three or four texts) was a huge leap for me. Also, suddenly being responsible for a research project that was to be delivered within a finite timescale—that also represented an area of concern not only for Unruly, but video advertising more broadly—was a lot of pressure. We pulled it out of the bag though, and I am extremely proud of the work we managed to accomplish in that six months.
PhDs can be quite solitary work, so it was also a real pleasure to work collaboratively on this project. In particular, I partnered up with Dr. Colin Campbell, an academic from Kent State University, to draw together our perspectives in film and advertising. What resulted was not only a series of findings for the company, but also an article for Journal of Advertising Research which has been accepted for publication this year. We also presented our findings to Unruly’s global teams, and I also went on to present our research in Sydney for the Commonwealth Bank and Ikon Media.
In terms of developing my skill set, my work with Unruly has been invaluable. Quantitative and mixed-methods research, collaborative working, presenting to audiences outside of academia, learning about the inner-workings of the advertising industry… there really is too much to consider fully here. This work has also given me a whole new lens through which to consider my thesis work, and impacted my research interests going forward.