Q&A With Colleen Fahey Rush

Colleen Fahey Rush is the executive vice president of strategic insights and research for MTV Networks.  Her background includes broadcast at CBS owned and operated stations, Hispanic television at Telemundo and agency research at J Walter Thompson. She is currently overseeing all of MTV Networks' research that's cable and multi-platform.


There are six videos in my interview of Fahey Rush, on a range of subjects from research quality, Logo's gay and lesbian research, past trends and predictions, to the role of research at MTV networks. Check out the videos here. Below is an excerpt from the interview.

CW: Among all of your networks you have Logo, which targets the gay and lesbian market. Research on this market is not as ubiquitous as for other niche groups. Do you do any kind of specialty research for Logo? How do you approach the sales position of Logo with the dearth of actual available data?



Colleen Fahey Rush: That's a really good question. We basically had to take matters into our own hands, because there is no syndicated data out there to work with to help us position the network or explain this audience or segment it or whatever, so we have really just done it ourselves. And we've done a couple of different studies to portray and segment the gay and lesbian market for ourselves, for our programmers and for our advertising partners. And it's been very well received. They are happy to learn what we have learned along the way.

CW: Are there many different segments of that market?

CFR: Sure. Yes. I don't know the name [of it], but [there] was actually a fantastic study We've got an older gay and lesbian market, [for whom] it was a really big deal for them to come out when they did. Then there is a younger segment. It wasn't really a big deal for them to come out, and so their self-identity in a way is a bit different. It's not all about being gay the way it might be for some of the older segments. [That presentation] deserves a full-blown version... because it is really interesting.

CW: One of the themes that I have noticed in a range of interviews is the subject of research quality. There are so many research studies out there. Some are of excellent quality and some are maybe a little more seat of the pants. How do you maintain the quality of your research?

CFR: That is a good question. I think the ARF is doing an online research quality event very soon. That was also the very first panel that we had in the CTAM Research Conference back in April 2009. It is a hot topic because I think a lot of people just think all online research is the same, and it's not.

How those panels come to be, whether they are self-selected or emailed to come in, there are all different... ways that absolutely drive [their quality]... Certainly when we put together an RFP and we have discussions with our potential vendors about how they create their panels, that is an important step for us and one that we always take... as part of our process here. We also issue an RFP to at least three vendors. We don't automatically use the same vendor again and again and again. So we are availing ourselves of how new ideas are coming to the fore. We are big fans of qualitative research, but we never do it in a vacuum. We always also do a piece of rigorous quant so that the qualitative is in essence bringing the quantitative to life... I am really glad that research quality is getting the attention that it is right now.

CW: As EVP of Strategic Insights and Research, what would you say is the most dramatic change in the industry in the past five years?

CFR: It's been a heck of a five years! I would say social networks, DVRs and online video are definitely the top three things that have exploded or evolved... [They] have really changed the ways that consumers watch what they are watching, but also really relate to [that content],communicate around it and share it. So I think that, compared to five years ago when for your favorite show all you could do was watch it, now you can interact with it in many, many ways. I just think that has changed the overall business dramatically.


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