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The Digital Revolution In Marketing Research

Legacy business models are under challenge all around us. What iTunes has done to the music industry, Expedia to travel, Amazon to retailing, are increasingly carried across to business services such as market research. In the business literature this is referred to as disintermediation, or, putting it in layman’s terms, it is “cutting out the middle man.”

Initially, the purists among us would scoff at the idea that you could design and execute a market research project using SurveyMonkey. But as do-it-yourself MR solutions have become more reliable and commonplace, traditional market research agencies have begun to worry….some may already be out of business.

Gone are the days when you needed to hire an MR agency to carry out even the simplest of surveys. SurveyMonkey , Google Consumer Surveys and other online survey solutions, provide fairly reliable tools companies can use, at a fraction of the cost of hiring an MR agency.

Of course, you still need to have cursory knowledge of the process: sampling, questionnaire design and basic analytics, but do-it-yourself platforms are becoming increasingly sophisticated and have built in some of the expertise usually brought in by an outside vendor.

You know that a business model has commercial promise, when Google takes notice. Sensing an opportunity, the global giant launched Google Consumer Surveys, a service that businesses can use to research online audiences This replaces paywalls or ads to generate revenue from site visitors, under the tagline:.custom market research made easy.

Companies can use Google consumer surveys to conduct online market research. Google then places the questions in front of targeted individuals on the web when they land on a premium content page in Google’s publisher network.

The researcher pays a small fee per response (as low as 10 cents) depending on

targeting preferences, and Google and participating publishers earn money as responses roll in. Even the content viewer who responds to the questions benefits, as he/she doesn’t have to pay or sign in to access news articles or videos that might otherwise be found behind paywalls.

Carrying this disruption to a different level, platforms which allow web listening or the formation of online communities for co-creation (which are disruptive in their own right) will soon be offered as DIY solutions. A case in point is DigitalMR’s Communities247 which is already offered as a Software-as-a-Service. A further enhancement (V4) which is currently in beta, will allow tiered access with full administration rights to the subscriber. No human interaction will be necessary with the exception of technical support. Listening247, the social listening analytics platform of DigitalMR is not far behind. This is the long awaited “democratization” of robust marketing analysis, as it becomes available to SMEs…no longer a source of competitive advantage for blue chip multinationals.

The internet and digital platforms are here to stay and are revolutionizing the way business is conducted. The consulting and MR industries should not bury their head in the sand and hope Google and other disruptors will be just a passing phase. They are a regular part of the marketing landscape from now on. It is time we get used to the idea.

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