What We Do
The Medill Spiegel Research Center is part of Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. The center (SRC) was founded in 2011 by a generous gift from the late Professor Emeritus Edward J. “Ted” Spiegel and his wife Audrey, and fortified by the support of corporations, alumni and friends. SRC is part of Northwestern’s long tradition of applied research about advertising and marketing.
Our Mission and Research Focus
The mission of the center is to undertake evidence-based, data-driven quantitative analysis to understand the relationship between customer engagement and favorable financial outcomes. The center’s research includes assessing the financial impact of consumer engagement behaviors relative to social media, mobile devices, customer reviews and ratings, loyalty programs, multi-vendor shopping platforms, and more. Professor Ed Malthouse serves as the center’s research director and works closely with other faculty at Northwestern and other universities, SRC post-doctoral fellows, Northwestern doctoral candidates, and graduate student fellows. Our advisory board complements the research team by providing innovative advice, critical thinking and dynamic perspectives on research and studies underway. Our goal is to uncover evidence that shows which types of customer engagement with media and brands result in the most significant financial impact.
Through its research, Spiegel has found that the growing influence of the consumer’s voice in today’s always-on digital environment has made obsolete many of the assumptions that underlie the funnel-based view of how consumers and brands engage with each other. That research has led to Spiegel’s development of the Customer Engagement Engine as a framework for understanding the ways that engagement drives value in today’s brand, media and marketing ecosystem.
Research sponsors have included Coca-Cola, Colony Brands, ConAgra Foods, Deloitte, LoyaltyOne, Peapod, PowerReviews, Reckitt Benkiser, Rite Aid, and ShopRunner.
SRC’s Work on Local News and Research Approach
A major current project is the development of the Medill Subscriber Engagement Index (MSEI), a collaboration with Medill’s Local News Initiative. MSEI is a tool designed to help local news organizations to better understand which aspects of their online content are boosting the acquisition and retention of subscribers and which are leading to dropped subscriptions. This is vital intelligence at a time when local news outlets are shifting from reliance on advertising dollars to a greater emphasis on reader revenues.
All of SRC’s research is quantitative in nature and data-driven, relying on advanced analytical and data science techniques. SRC does not currently engage in any qualitative research such as surveys, focus groups, and customer interviews, although we often collaborate with qualitative researchers to produce comprehensive assessments of engagement-related issues.