It was interesting and heartening to see in the latest GRIT report that many emerging techniques for data collection in Market Research (MR) are becoming mainstream, such as mobile surveys (yes, it really could be the year mobile for insights scales!), unstructured data analysis and social media analytics.
Indeed, it is a sign of the times and frankly an absolute necessity for MR players to move from data collection silos to an omni-channel approach – in light of the rapid developments in omni-channel marketing, providing many more touchpoints for consumers. Brands wanting to capitalise need to be able to track and manage customer interactions across these different channels, and deliver a personalized and consistent experience every time.
The emergence of the term ‘People Based Marketing’, born out of FaceBook’s persistent ID data capabilities, points the way towards both the challenges and opportunities in this area. Today we are all obsessed about data, but where this has previously been driven by big data sets for modelling and analytics, today the real value is in meaningful data that’s richer, more deterministic and can be tagged to a real individual both online and offline – preferably to a unique ID and permission-based registration (Facebook login, Google Mail or other login data via mobile or desktop). It is the Holy Grail for both brands and advertisers to be able to track an individual known consumer end-to-end through the path to purchase, or a customer journey. Only at this point will the true value be unlocked in delivering fully optimized, relevant and personalized advertising and content delivery.
And all of this opens up a huge opportunity for the market research industry, but one that can only be realized through a digital transformation of how MR agency businesses run today, and their mindset and toolset in how to source and manage data. For MR to truly capture meaningful insights and merge data streams from multiple touchpoints – such as IoT and social media – the industry needs to take a position on whether they want to own the technology and value chain, or take more of a partnership approach to adopting best practice, realizing their value and core competency as an MR agency and where their capabilities start and finish. Arguably, too many MR agencies today are trying to reinvent themselves as technology companies, but it simply isn’t in their company DNA. Isn’t it better to combine the rigor of market research methodology and interpretation of data with best-in-class off the shelf technology to drive and capture more value?
If the right partnership combinations can be created then we will without doubt reach the tipping point to genuine, scalable cross-platform, cross-device, online and offline tracking of a unique individual and see this become a reality. The technology stack is certainly already available for the most part, but the challenge comes in accessing reliable and robust self-declared first party data to augment and enrich the abundance of inferred, algorithm built data in the insights eco-system.
So there are real signs of major step changes in data collection and tracking, and the backdrop to this is an acceleration in both innovation and market consolidation – not only within the insights vertical but increasingly cross-vertical consolidation in business models and M&A activity. You only need to look at some of the major transactions in the AdTech vertical over the past year to see how this is playing out. There is a clear trend seeing MarTech, AdTech, CX and Insights converging. AdTech and MarTech are trying to create more value, driven by data and insights. Prime examples of this include the Krux acquisition by Salesforce, and iPerceptions buying Datacratics.
Additionally, there is innovation in core MR too. Ipsos launching LIFE Path – a path to purchase tool – and WPP’s media investment arm GroupM launching the MPlatform suite of products, demonstrates the move towards this heightened focus on first party data ownership and unique identification of an individual consumer. Strategies increasingly circle around innovation and building of technology stacks and data tracking (cookies/AdIDs in mobile) and analytics capabilities (dashboards/real-time). This ultimately will bring first and third party data sets together to enrich insights, and depth and breadths of consumer behavior profiling, for the benefit of all key stakeholders in the value chain: brands, advertisers, agencies and the consumer.
In a world where consumers are changing their consumption habits of media, products and services, sometimes on a weekly, if not daily basis, brands are forced to rethink customer engagement. Truly knowing the audience and engaging them on their terms is more important than ever.
Technology is the enabler here: used as a means to bring efficiency beyond data capture, and designed to help to disseminate findings faster and with a higher level of accuracy. Technology providers that can tap into this multi-billion-dollar market, and redefine the way brands and consumer audiences engage through customer journeys in this multi-channel environment, will thrive and succeed in this ever-evolving landscape.