Ogilvy’s Leslie Stone on Mobile Video Qualitative Research and mindswarms

When mindswarms founder Tom Basset recently sat down in Brooklyn to interview Ogilvy NYC’s Director of Strategic Services, Leslie Stone, he wondered if the whole thing was going sideways right from the start.


Leslie began by provocatively saying, “I think online basically ruined qualitative research.”



She went on to say that the many tools and techniques she had honed over her career in qual research and strategy didn’t easily migrate to digital platforms. Despite her proven success with past research techniques, and the genuine pleasure in human connection she found in using them, many of her core, go-to research techniques simply weren’t thriving in the digital world.


Her experience with mindswarms changed that.

The Freedom and Serendipity of mobile video qualitative research


As Leslie describes it, mindswarms differentiates itself from other digital research tools and platforms in a few key ways:


  • Respondents via mindswarms are highly self-directed; the mobile video selfie format gives them the latitude to respond in ways most relevant to them.
  • The self-directed nature of responses via mobile video eliminates moderator bias and supports ethnographic observations, which tend to be absent from other forms of digital research.
  • In mobile video qualitative research, the serendipitous observations (of environment, interactions and emotion) made possible through video are often as valuable as what participants say directly.


To amplify these aspects of mobile video qualitative research, we often use the Show + Tell technique in mindswarms studies. If you’d like to see examples of how this works, this mindswarms best practices report profiles five mindswarms studies that used Show + Tell.

In-home research using mobile video studies


Participant freedom, comfort and serendipity are part of what makes mindswarms such a great fit for consumer insights research in the home, an environment rich with context for participant responses and opportunities for interactions.  Home is where many of life’s most important decisions are made: emotional, financial and experiential.


When asked about best uses of mobile video for ethnographic research, Leslie replied, “It’s a no-brainer for anything in the home, and ‘anything in the home’ could be any consumer good or any food or anything in your closet or shopping.”


It’s one thing to hear a description of a room, but it’s a different experience entirely to take a personal, narrated tour inside someone’s home.  Our mobile video study of Millennials & Home Cleaning is a perfect example.  (For in-depth analysis of lessons and insights learned from that study, read Tom’s in-depth article on LinkedIn.)


In our study with Leslie for Ogilvy, we asked people to show us their favorite room in their home and tell us about it.  It was amazing to see how animated people became in sharing the important details and emotional significance of a space they had crafted with such care.


Leslie reflected on partnering with mindswarms and using mobile video as a qualitative research tool: “One huge benefit is that I don’t have the time or resources to go do this myself.  It’s amazing to go home, come back in the next day and just watch videos.  It saves a gigantic amount of operational time.  I used to travel all over the place talking to people, and that was fun, but I don’t have the time to do that anymore.”


Using mindswarms for mobile video qualitative research gave Ogilvy a personal invitation into the homes and lives of people across the country–far from Ogilvy’s NYC office.  And we took the project from start to finish in less than a week.


Watch the video of our interview with Leslie and download interview highlights here.