Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three part series by Joel Rubinson on the evolution of market research due to new media. You can get a sneak peek at Part 2 here: http://blog.joelrubinson.net/2013/09/new-marketing-questions-drive-new-research-approaches/
By Joel Rubinson
About a month ago Bob Lederer interviewed someone for his daily video who was bemoaning that marketing research hasn’t changed in 30 years. Was this guy right? Well, it turns out virtually every element of marketing research practice HAS changed over the past 30 years. See for yourselves; click here for a table I created of changes from 1983 to 2013
However, if you are future-focused, you care more about future change of marketing research. As I think about what leads to change in marketing research, it really comes down to three drivers:
- Emerging media behaviors
- Changing marketing questions
- Increasingly powerful information technology
Today I will focus on emerging media behaviors.
As new media arise, survey research practice follows suit. Over the past 30 years, we witnessed the rise and fall of telephone interviewing as the telephone provided a more cost effective modality than door-to-door and then the internet provided a more affordable solution than random digit dialing for quantitative research. Over the past five years, we have seen the rise of listening to social media conversation as a source of consumer insights about brands, corporate reputation, and cultural values. Smartphones, our constant companions, have created a way of conducting in the moment research about media consumption and shopper action replacing ethnographic observers. We are also seeing a new form of surveys that are embedded within websites in space otherwise used for advertising. Leading the way on this are CivicScience and Google Surveys.
So what’s next? Anticipate the change in media behavior as survey practice will follow! Smartphones will become increasingly ubiquitous so mobile research will increasingly leverage this with short burst, in the moment surveys that use touch and voice. Wearable technology like Google glasses and the Apple watch will begin to gain penetration and become great devices for multi-screen media behavior tracking and shopper research. We are seeing the advent of interviewing from within Facebook, e.g. from Loud Door, where users grant access to the wealth of information on their likes and interests so questions on these areas need not be asked. Expect this to increase.
Another media trend that can enable new research approaches is the rise of TV watching with a coordinated second screen experience. Imagine the possibilities for asking a few questions on the smartphone or tablet about the show being watched or brands being advertised. Already you can watch Walking Dead on AMC and Shazaam the commercials to learn more; easily, that could include some simple but powerful survey questions.
As survey cooperation rates decline especially for long-surveys, expect research to go more towards short burst surveys on mobile devices and passive data collection on behaviors and what people see (smartphones and wearable technology) leveraging touch, voice, audio, visual recognition, and natural language processing. Expect the need to align the data from a series of short bursts. In turn, this will increase desirability of “same user” research (i.e. same respondents) from Facebook, and recruiting users to download apps and granting permission to access their social media profiles. Expect an increase in analytics to bring these short bursts of data together via fusion, lookalike modeling, and data attribution as digital media companies are already doing for ad targeting purposes.
As we think about these changes…from telephone to online, from observational to smartphone, from surveys to social media listening…we see recurring motivations as the new disruptive alternative is always much faster, much cheaper, and allows for much greater sample sizes affordably.
In the next blog, I discuss the second driver of marketing research change… new marketing questions.