Presentation given at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York on Nov 11, 2009.
Online advertisers and web analysts are awash in a sea of data: pageviews, CPMs sold, subscriptions, sentiment, friends, fans, click-through rates, comments, posts, re-tweets… These metrics are great at identifying the “Who?” and “What?” of online behavior but they often leave out the “How?”, “Where?”, and “Why?”.
Unlike traditional market research, ethnography uses observation to focus on what people do, not on what they say they do. Ethnography communicates a social story, pulling the audience into the daily lives of the respondents. Despite the introduction of new technologies like social media, humans are still telling the same, vivid stories, just in different ways.