Back to the Future of Ethnography: Internal User Research at a Consumer Internet Company
Article first published online: 16 NOV 2010
© 2010 by The American Anthropological Association. Some rights reserved.
Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings
Volume 2010, Issue 1, pages 14–25, August-September 2010
How to Cite
MOED, A. (2010), Back to the Future of Ethnography: Internal User Research at a Consumer Internet Company. Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, 2010: 14–25. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-8918.2010.00003.x
- Issue published online: 16 NOV 2010
- Article first published online: 16 NOV 2010
The Advertising Products research team at Yahoo! is building an internal research practice within an organization that is user-centered, but optimized for consumer product development. While our fellow researchers observe millions of consumers on our websites, we study our coworkers: their experiences with the tools of online advertising, and how those experiences shape the service that our advertiser customers receive. Adopting methods such as task-oriented interviewing and extended observation, we are reconnecting with a tradition of ethnographic inquiry in the workplace that is largely unknown at consumer Internet companies. This paper describes how we have re-learned and built company support for this approach. I describe our work with Yahoo!'s advertising sales and operations staff, highlighting the structural challenges of conducting and applying this research. I conclude by reflecting on how qualitative research can help a company bridge the gap between product design capacity and the ability to produce great services.