Ball State University has developed a reputation for engaging in interactive media research, often working with marketing companies such as Nielsen.Â Its Center for Media Design just released research on privacy, suggesting in their comments that the debates on privacy have been over-simplied, including by advocates.Â Like many others, Ball State examines privacy and fails to fully explore how online data collection really works in the context of contemporary digital marketing.Â But given Ball State’s close ties with online marketers–including the staff of the Center for Media Design–perhaps it’s not surprising that its review didn’t place the issue under the appropriate critical lens.
For example, Sequent Partners, which works on online marketing and other related issues, is a partner of Ball State.Â Sequent explains that:
Sequent Partners is the majority shareholder in Media Behavior Institute, a consumer-centric and media-neutral multimedia research company formed in 2008 and which enjoys a uniquely close relationship with Ball State University. Media Behavior Institute applied the Universityâ€™s observational research and conducted the Nielsen Council for Research Excellence Video Consumer Mapping study, the most ambitious multi-media measurement ever conducted.
Sequent Partners is also a shareholder and active member of the Media Trust LLC. This team was formed specifically to analyze in-market advertising and media response, and best-of-class sources of single-source data. Media Trust offers the most insightful set of evaluation tools for media and advertising.
Sequent Partners also has a long-term development and product management relationship with OTX Research (Ipsos ASI) in the area of multimedia advertising research.
Working at the Media Behavior Institute is Mike Bloxham, the long-time research director for the Center for Media Design, who just left the university to also work at a digital media start-up.
The privacy debate is an important one, as are many of the issues at stake in the digital communications era.Â The public needs independent research to help address these serious and complex issues.Â Scholars and universities have an important role to play.Â Ball State is not the only school with its hand-out for grants and research contracts. Â But such relationships create conflicts that need to be addressed, including ensuring the research is designed to serve the broader public–not just the special interests supporting the school.