Market Research CEO’s NGMR predictions on what 2012 has in store
I want to thank everyone who responded to my call for predictions last week. Since then I’ve posted over 77 predictions! I had hoped to synthesize and summarize some of this, but the number and qualitative nature of these predictions makes it difficult. Instead, just like yesterday I have decided to add my own prediction at the end of today’s post.
How we deliver insights becomes as important as what we deliver. Creativity, visualisation, imagination are key to impact and we finally get to see some of the benefits of focusing on big data and of combining behavioural and attitudinal insights
Traditional MR approaches and Social Media monitoring will converge as major brands continue to leverage platforms like Facebook fans pages and Google+. Progressive brands will continue to experiment with leveraging the social sphere but in 2012 more methods will be developed to test both the effectiveness of campaigns and measure the impact of these initiatives
In 2012, data analytics and integration of primary and secondary research sources will be bigger than ever, with more innovation from established players, more client investment in solutions and more new companies looking to join the game
I think the big change In the next few years will be that our industry will have to develop new standards for the interpretation of data. Traditionally we use statistics to generalize personal opinions. We focused on the average customer and not on extremes. Social media for example shows us that the average customer is not the most interesting one. Euphoric or angry customers are creating movements. These movements are changing the world. This means that representativeness will no longer be the dominant paradigm. This will change much of the spectrum of the research industry. Conclusion: exciting times ahead of us!
The macro-economic environment in the US and EU will not improve in a material way until after the election. Implications:
o This uncertainty will continue to depress MR hiring and spending growth especially in the custom research practice areas - pricing will continue to be depressed
o Levels of innovation will continue to accelerate across the data collection and interpretation / insights areas as folks look to lower the cost to serve and increase the quality of insights that drive decision-making — “necessity will continue to become the mother of invention”
Newer, non-traditional forms of primary research will continue to gain traction. Implications:
o Researchers will continue to experiment with both passive and active forms of collecting opinions - over the next year, these capabilities will continue to be supplemental to the primary research tools / methods used
o As normative data can be developed, traditional forms of research will become candidates for being replaced
The science of sampling will continue to evolve and loosen to acknowledge the massive amount of social media data that exists and is real time. Implications:
o Social media data will be integrated with traditional survey research to provide richer / broader findings
o The implications of the decisions to be made will play a bigger role in dictating “how much science is required” i.e. sampling frames and representative samples. Decisions of smaller to mid-sized consequences will require less science. In the end, someone is going to make the business decision and use whatever is available
Predictive analytics, automation and decision engine capabilities will continue to grow. Implications:
o Service providers will require their business systems to scale efficiently and their cost to serve to progressively go down.
o Integrating intellectual property, decision algorithms with business and work flow process will grow to increase the speed and quality of service
Respondent engagement will continue to evolve to acknowledge the impact of social media processes and respondent expectations with researchers need to authenticate, profile and target as well as engage. Implications:
Methods convergence is going to be key in 2012. With mobile, tablets, online communities and social media research all growing exponentially, our challenge as researchers will be the integration of a suite of research tools that can meld all of these methods seamlessly. Whether we’re delivering surveys via social media sites, laptops, mobile web browsers or native apps, reaching respondents that are constantly connected will have a significant impact on our ability to collect relevant data in a timely manner- this isn’t just about teens or early adopters anymore. Blended and emerging research platforms also present a unique opportunity to improve research quality by requiring researchers to limit questionnaire length and refocus on respondent engagement (think gamified surveys which show early signs of shaking up stodgy surveys, even mobile surveys, in a significant way).
Enterprise integration will become a priority. With social media analytics, CRM, BI, ERP, CMS, SMMS and data coming from all sides, there will be an increasing demand for more actionable analytics and insights to improve faster decision making. For market research departments, it means the need to collaborate with other parts of the organization, better integrating market/ consumer insights across the enterprise information supply chain. Also, disruptive technologies such as cloud computing, mobile devices, applications, big data and social media will continue facilitating the creation of evolving research methods and tools, and we’ll be moving beyond the era when market research was just about asking, processing and analyzing data
Dramatic increase of companies into the market research space that provide services that are not considered “traditional” market research. The definition of what constitutes market research appears to be changing and these companies are filling a need that “traditional” market research companies are, in many cases less equipped to handle, or are simply not addressing for one reason or another. Many of these services are programming heavy, have increased automation (decreasing labor involvement), and are much less intrusive to research participants by taking advantage of pre-existing or “course of life” data sources and collection methods. The application of market research techniques to business intelligence information, big data, and the introduction of intuitive software platforms by these providers will drive consumers of market research data to find alternative sources for acquiring business insights because the ways of gathering these insights have been simplified
I am very optimistic that 2012 will be a good year for quality and innovation. Big companies will have to look out for the smaller ones and the companies that do not innovate using mobile, MROC or/and neuroscience will be in trouble. Oh yes, and excellent customer service (consultation as well as operation) will be key
1. Social media monitoring hits mainstream - businesses that succeed and grow are starting to listen to and partake in open conversations with consumers to pull in insight and control consumer sentiment.
2. Automated verbatim analysis becomes stronger, can determine context a lot better and lead to better triggers and notifications for businesses to respond to consumers.
3. Ad-hoc research is still used in the development of new products, so growth of online qualitative, online co-creation, online ethnography continues.
4. Smartphone ethnography starts to take the stage a couple of years from now, as penetration of these devices increases in BRIC etc…
5. There will still be online surveys (sorry Tom!) - but alternative methodologies will continue to take the place of many insight projects where in the past a quant survey was the norm.
6. Although this has already started, there is a disruptive shift in the way that online respondent recruitment is done, away from panels and directly from social networks via recruitment apps that people add to their profiles, making it more difficult to become a ‘professional respondent’. This is because of the ubiquity of social networks - and that recruitment apps will deeply analyse respondents social networks to determine a quality score for a potential respondent. The quality of online-only projects involving respondents who were also recruited online, will continue to increase
I think we’ll continue to see a blurring of the lines. As we get less and less able to achieve a random probability sample in quantitative, I believe we’ll see more “large scale” qualitative and immersive techniques get used in a dubious manner, as though they had some numerical viability. I think we’ll see more blurring of the lines with online sample (e.g. mixing river sample and access panel, panel blending, mixing panel sample and social media sample, etc.). And I think we’ll see more blurring of the lines between traditional and non-traditional techniques (e.g. the gamification of research debate, immersive and/or mobile MR mixed with traditional qualitative, data mining and/or social media analysis with or instead of traditional primary research techniques). We’re in the midst of change (as we were with the advent of RDD phone, the advent of online qual, the advent of online quant, etc.), but it’s more chaotic and varied than I’ve witnessed before, with multiple things trying to emerge at the same time and not always a clear view of how/whether each one truly provides upgraded value and reliability
A/B & Multivariate Conversion Testing Expecting Hockey-stick Growth in 2012
In 2011, we saw an unprecedented number of testing tech launches, many of them smaller SaaSs but some with multi-million dollar war-chests. And, testing services firms reported to us that they had fast-growing prospect lists… but, for both tech and services, converting marketers interested in testing into actual paying clients was achingly slow.
Then late this fall the dam broke. Services firms and tech platforms alike told our reporters they were suddenly landing lots of new clients. Most often these were longtime prospects who finally signed and returned the dusty, cobwebbed contract. Now at last they are ready to begin testing and they want to begin as of yesterday!
It’s not limited to a particular sector or type of marketer; more of an overall marketing trend. I can’t point to a specific factor that’s tipped the balance - the economy? The prevalence of GWO? The evangelism efforts of our own weekly or third party, national events such as Conversion Conference? In the end, it doesn’t matter why - just the fact that yes, it’s finally happening!
I’ll avoid the boring and obvious predictions like the increase of mobile, the rising obsession with analytics, and the need for global perspective.
I’d hope that this is the year when we talk less about “quant vs qual” and more about the distinction between “engaged vs ambivalent” consumers. There is so much bad data out there, generated by overcommitted, overtaxed, overemailed respondents who delete our requests for information, fill out surveys like zombies, and tell us what they think we want to hear. This happens with quant and qual. The challenge - and the fun - will be in finding ways to understand humans - and engage them — in ways that truly lead to new insights and breakthroughs. I am hopeful that 2012 will be the year we embrace this
In 2012, we will witness a surge in the application of “Purpose-Based Innovation” within Market Research. That is, a more focused and relevant use of technology, when/where appropriate - to solve a business issue, rather than showing up with a shiny new toy to sell. How should you place your bet? Consider a more purposed-based application of Visual & Linguistic Gamification, Mobile/GPS & Social Insights, within the framework of specific, relevant and actioned client needs. Neuroscience will be come under attack, for being unreliable, too expensive & ‘off-strategy’ for broad-based MR industry focus/growth
The 2012 future of MR is Social MR. I believe that we will see a shift towards offering respondents the opportunity to share their satisfaction to their friends. In simple numbers: A survey of 1000 interviews generate at least 500 satisfied customers out of which if 100 share their satisfaction on the social media reaching 50.000 people with a message that is worth in marketing spending more than the survey itself cost.
The impact of this kind of approach is huge, for more than one reason: first of all, customer reviews are an increasingly trustworthy source of information (several studies have shown that people have bought products after being influenced by other people’s reviews) and second, the cost of reaching 50.000 on traditional channels would be much higher. Let alone the fact that you can grasp the importance of the whole number, the importance of every customer and the huge impact of customer satisfaction in general.
This is a great opportunity for MR to start taking revenues from the marketing budget instead of fighting for the MR budgets. And as a result, the Market Research industry might just become truly Social
2012 will be an interesting time. On the one hand we will see a continued aggressive series of navel-gazing initiatives by the industry and on the other we will genuinely see a new force of data consolidators emerge. It will be the equivalent of the boiling frog but we will look back at the beginning of 2013 and wonder how that happened (a bit like the surprise with Survey Monkey). Many will be victims of, as Joan Lewis said, “The case study of an industry in disruption that did not realise it” (sic)
I also expect an as-yet-unknown Black Swan to come in and radically change things. What could that be? It will be something that makes us all sit up and say Wow! I am not prepared to share my thoughts on this one…
2013 will be a depressing time for the MR industry overall and then we will emerge slowly in 2014, much-changed and all the better for it.
There will continue to be several casualties but in the spirit of Darwin this will be for the greater good.
Oh, and also, China / Asia will continue to terrify us all!
As mobile tools become more flexible, expect to see ethnography type studies expanding. The use of video in all forms of research will also continue to grow. Challenges facing researchers will be the management and reporting of massive amounts of data. Location based research will get a stronger foot hold as well as an expansion of longitudinal community type studies. As economy continues to sputter, budget restraints will keep research dollars tight. Expect lower margins and creative methods to be the norm
1.I firmly predict the unpredictable. It’s chaos out there. Too many variables, too many possible tipping points in play. For MR firms this means that the ones that do best in 2012 will be the ones who have thought carefully about how to run a balanced business, and who’ll have a plan B ready for whenever what they were banking on going well in 2012 goes belly up instead.
2. Harder measures of the soft stuff. There’s a growing realization that standard MR is missing out on some key insights into subconscious drivers of behaviour. At the same time cost, time and resource constraints mean end users are getting impatient with some of the woolly, expensive and jargon laden alternatives offered. I think this the is the year where more and more clients clamour for simple to collect, hard measures of the soft subjects - emotions, feelings and motivations etc. I expect this demand to lead to a variety of solutions to being offered, some oddball, others very exciting indeed
An Appropriate Sense of Urgency - As we enter 2012, the discussion in our industry centers on the convergence of Traditional MR and New MR. That’s great and the way it should be.
However, most of my peers seem to feel that New MR (e.g. social media analytics, mobile, gamification, Crowdsourcing) simply represent new tools to the research arsenal. The usual caveat goes something like; “Although we are still very much in the early stages of adapting this new technology for MR, it is something you might consider for a future, appropriate opportunity”.
I don’t feel an appropriate sense of urgency in familiarizing ourselves with new MR is being presented. And I believe we risk being disingenuous to our colleagues. I’m not one for hyperbole, but I honestly feel a great number of researchers will find themselves downsized over the next ten years. Corporate clients will turn to new faster alternatives that can provide them with 80% confidence in a fraction of the time.
I’m hoping that in 2012, we’ll start to see industry leaders speak more forcefully on the need to embrace these new tools and thus help researchers retain their roles as conduit to the consumer
I predict more neuro-marketing companies going the way of Emsense (closing) as we fail to find significant value for purchasing decisions
I think that over the next two years, we’re going to continue to see a push towards DIY or consultative-DIY in Market Research. uSamp has been built around this future vision of DIY surveying and sampling. SurveyMonkey’s acquisition of MarketTools only further substantiates that vision. All the major sampling firms will become more aggressive in this space, as they already have software tools in place. But right now, these tools are just that, and will need to be strategically integrated to succeed. DIY adoption rates will rise with education and application
I think we are going to see the lines blurred between market research and mobile marketing by finding “gamified” methods for capturing consumer insight and and consumer sentiment
2011 was the year in which ‘Power to the People’ became real. Just think about ‘occupy wall street’, the Arab spring and even the riots in London. Each of these events were fueled by people who combine their beliefs (positive or negative) with the opportunities of new (social) media.
All this has a major impact on the market research industry. There is a huge opportunity to include the power of the people in research. Empower consumers to share their beliefs about their favorite brands by using the possibilities of new media. Until now marketers have used social media in a rather limited way. The focus has been on building additional reach through facebook fans and twitter followers. This is great, but it does not fully use the power of the people. If you want to use the power of the people and social media in a stronger way, companies should start collaborating in a structural way with their consumers. Co-creation is NOT enough. The only way you can leverage the power of the people, is by involving them in everything your company does. In 2012, the best market researchers your company can hire, are probably its consumers. Involve them in a daily basis in the decision making process of your company
While not a traditional market research firm I’ve included a prediction from my friend Arjun, CEO of Retargeter as his is one of a few Next Gen firms such as RapLeaf which are progressive in the area od social media and therefore interest me. The data they collect could be extremely powerful
In 2012, I predict that we will see the various elements of the targeting ecosystem come together into a cohesive whole for the first time. Up until now, display advertisers have struggled to integrate demographic, contextual behavioral, and social graph insights to create precise audience segments to which they can serve targeted advertisements. Now, however, we have technology that allows us to weave these disparate data sources together to product a holistic advertising strategy that’s more relevant and more engaging than ever before. The result will be a higher ROI for advertisers and a more personalized web experience for users
In 2012 and beyond, we’ll see increasing demand for tools and services that are of the do-it-yourself (DIY) variety. Survey systems that enable users to select their own respondents, write their own questions, and view and analyze results in near real-time without having to interact directly with a single human being will become the norm, particularly among those who recognize that time can be a crucial component of competitive advantage. Off-the-shelf, plug-and-play websites, replete with qualitative and quantitative features that promote collective creativity, and facilitate the generation of new knowledge will begin to proliferate as well. Such tools and services will play a prominent role in the ongoing technological revolution that is continuing to transform the market research industry. Although the revolution will create some new opportunities, it will also make obsolete much of what we take for granted today. Market research buyers and sellers who embrace the changes this revolution brings, including the need to move far more quickly than ever before, will reap the rewards and be far more successful than those who do not
1. Online ad effectiveness research will continue to grow at a blistering pace Visibility will become a key metric in evaluating online ad effectiveness. This will measure whether the ad was ever visible to the Internet user.
2. Cross media measurement based on single source electronic TV and Internet data will emerge as an important media planning tool
3. We will gain valuable insights into how to improve the quality of online surveys as a result of the ARF Foundations of Quality 2.0 initiative
Market Research seems to have been experiencing a fury of innovation this past year, or at least that’s what your conclusion may be if you follow much of the discussion on industry related social media channels. Technology is a good thing, but innovation simply for the sake of innovation is not the key to success. As an example, while I believe some ideas from games can be used to make traditional research tools somewhat more exciting, creating games for the sake of collecting useful data will not prove a worthwhile endeavor anytime soon. Creating entertaining games for profit is challenging enough.
The market research innovation that will stick as the social media bubble begins to mature is that which is based on sound methodology AND can prove its ROI. Specifically, I believe that which is related to big data (structured or unstructured/text) will certainly continue to become more important in 2012 (with more M&A’s in this area) - while at the same time the importance of smaller data sources and samples will decrease.
Surveys will not die in 2012, NOR EVER, and will always hold their place as a useful tool. Though obviously their piece of the total analytics pie will decrease. In the short term, first mover opportunities exist in better incorporating surveys with big data and social media in ways not seen before
Again a big thanks to all of you who have responded, I think we will definitely repeat the NGMR predictions in 2013 as well.