Research projects

Politics are in fashion: how lifestyle brands navigate the risky mix of advertising and politics  


When Pepsi’s ad featuring Kendall Jenner was unleashed on the world last week, the Internet collectively cringed… then roared, causing the ad to be pulled within 24 hours. So many things were so wrong with this ad: the glaring disconnect between Pepsi and politics, exploiting the Black Lives Matter movement to peddle soda, using a Patron Saint of shallowness to promote ‘wokeness’…  We were only left with one question: who the hell signed this off?!   Politics are the growing trend in advertising Although the Pepsi-Jenner debacle once again reignited the conversation around advertising and where the line of good taste lies, brands using politics for their own capital gain has been a growing trend. One of the industries that...

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Pulsar helps Pharma join the Online Conversation about P.A.D.


Pulsar works with many pharma companies, including AbbVie, AstraZeneca, GSK, and Ogilvy Healthworld, to name but a few. In this blog post, we wanted to give you an example of what kind of insights we can dig out from data for the pharma industry, using an example from one of the many researches we’ve set up around therapeutic areas: Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.), a disease that restricts blood supply to leg muscles. Here’s what we found.   Peripheral Arterial discussion is currently largely dominated by professional health publications and medical research centres. Patients are not hugely involved in the online discussion, and there is little awareness of P.A.D. beyond the medical sphere, due to it being in a relatively early stage of research and...

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Case study: how the Kuwaiti parliament uses social media to understand public opinion


Social media tracking is not just useful for businesses, it’s also useful for governments wanting to keep a finger on the pulse of public opinion. The Kuwaiti Parliament is able to do just that, with the help of Pulsar’s TRAC and consulting firm Information Age’s self-created analyzer (named Social Intelligence Analyzer), that has been plugged in to work with Pulsar. Salah Alnajem PhD, Founder and CEO of Information Age Consulting and Associate Professor of Computational Linguistics and Natural Language Processing at Kuwait University, reveals in detail how important the integration of these tools has been to get the job done, and how they’ve cleverly dealt with particular challenges in order to get the best results. The job at hand The Kuwaiti Parliament...

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How Rubicon used WhatsApp to keep its appeal for British Asian Millennials

whats app british asian millennials

Rubicon, a much-loved exotic drinks brand in the UK, recently asked themselves a question that will sound familiar to many businesses globally: “how do I stay relevant to a new generation of consumers, and ensure they feel connected to me as a brand?” Rubicon was keen to learn more about the British Asian millennial audience.  Were Rubicon’s communications still relevant to this group? And was their proposition still valid? To get their answers, they came to the research team at Pulsar. At Pulsar, we use social media data alongside other sources to understand audiences. For Rubicon our research design fused social data and qualitative research via WhatsApp communities to figure out what drives this particular millennial audience.     To read more on the...

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Pulsar Case Study: How Twitter can help predict a Norovirus #vomcano


Using social media data to help predict, rather than just report on diseases such as the Norovirus is something the Food Standards Agency (FSA) can now do at an 70% accuracy level. Most researchers working on health and disease topics rely on information they receive from labs, hospitals and GPs. For example, collating lab reports of quantities of people getting a virus at a given time will give a good understanding when outbreaks occur, after they’ve happened. Useful? Absolutely. But how can you wrangle data to help you predict, rather than just report, on outbreaks of diseases in order to inform the wider public? How Twitter & Lab reports give a different view The Food Standards Agency started looking into...

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Showing your teeth on Facebook: the facts around oral healthcare

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With 1.59 billion users (and counting), Facebook is the largest source of public opinion worldwide. Pulsar is one of the few platforms with access to Facebook’s aggregated and anonymised Topic Data, which gives immediate insight into how audiences engage with trends and topics. We used Facebook Topic Data to paint a picture of what people find important when it comes to oral health care – we then turned this into an infographic: Looking at the audience, it’s apparent that more females touch on the subject of oral health – and it’s a far more popular topic in the US than it is in the UK. Furthermore, the data shows that big, one-off dentistry events (root canal, anyone?) are driving interactions more...

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Journey of an image: from a beach in Bodrum to twenty million screens across the world

Aylan Kurdi

I first saw the picture of three-year old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi lying lifeless on a beach in Bodrum, Turkey on September the 2nd on Twitter. It felt like getting punched in the stomach. But while I was shocked by it, I didn’t realise how impactful it was going to be until the next day, when the same image started to appear in my Facebook newsfeed. While on Twitter I read the news headlines carrying the picture and reporting the tragedy, on Facebook it was easier to stumble upon the social context of the image. This included the comments of people who were actively engaging with the image and were debating immigration. And that’s when I noticed that the comments seemed to have a...

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Did one image change the debate on immigration? We joined a great panel at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia

Last week I had the pleasure of joining a great panel at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia in Italy alongside Carlotta Sami, spokeswoman at UNCHR South Europe, Claire Wardle, Research Director at TOW Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, Farida Vis Research Fellow at Sheffield University and Director of the Visual Social Media Lab and Craig Silverman Editor of Buzzfeed Canada. The panel focused on the power of images on social media in the refugee crisis. Farida introduced the work we have been doing with the Visual Social Media Lab to produce a rapid research response on the images of the death of Aylan Kurdi appeared on the web on September the 2nd 2015. The full study can be found here. Using...

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How do videos go viral? A collaboration with Twitter UK


How do videos go viral? How do people share them through social networks? And what are the dynamics of ‘virality’? Francesco D’Orazio and Jess Owens worked with Twitter UK to explore four big viral phenomena. The stories they selected were driven by video, and chosen to represent various types of video content: Commander Hadfield singing Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on the International Space Station (music) Dove “Real Beauty Sketches” for advertising (the most-watched advert EVER on YouTube) Ryan Gosling Won’t Eat His Cereal series of Vine videos, for serialised narrative content and mobile A grass-roots video of June’s protests in Izmir, Turkey, to provide an international and news dimension It turns out there’s not a single model of virality. Instead, different types of videos spread in different...

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#Data4Good: Harnessing social insights to solve global development challenges

UN Global Pulse - live Twitter conversations

Social data has proven itself to be a powerful tool for brands hoping to better understand and connect with their audiences. It allows companies to capture consumer behaviours by identifying what’s important to people, what drives them, and what their needs are. But the possibilities for social listening don’t stop there. These tools and methodologies can be used to better understand contexts and conflicts, and help further international development goals. Global Pulse: Mapping global Twitter conversations  Social media use is expanding in the developing world at an impressive rate. While most use social media to stay connected with friends and family, they also use it to comment on politics, to share health information, and to document their day-to-day realities. This...

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