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More News & Notes on MR Innovation

The last week has seen some really interesting developments on multiple fronts that could have long term impact on the direction of MR. The pace of technological innovation occurring from outside of the industry continues unabated, offering glimpses of a …

The last week has seen some really interesting developments on multiple fronts that could have long term impact on the direction of MR. The pace of technological innovation occurring from outside of the industry continues unabated, offering glimpses of a very different approach to data collection and respondent engagement than our current models. Those changes also have tremendous impact on brands, especially in how they must realign their strategic marketing initiatives in accordance with the new level of empowerment that technology has given consumers.

Let’s dive in and look at some of the news I am talking about.

First, we have two stories about Google and their recent movement around social gaming and social media monitoring. Of course, in usual Google fashion, the implications are much more far reaching than simple acquisitions.

The Wall Street Journal reports on Google’s continued movement into the social media space, this time based upon some recent social gaming acquisitions. The article makes a few interesting points that we should be paying attention to:

For social-game developers, a successful Google offering would mean they wouldn’t be so heavily dependent on Facebook, where the vast majority of users access the games. Consumers’ appetite for social games is booming— Zynga’s “Farmville” game has more than 60 million active monthly users—and that is attracting bigger players looking to tap new sources of growth. On Tuesday, Walt Disney Co. acquired Playdom for $563.2 million plus up to $200 million more if performance targets are reached. And retailer GameStop Corp. agreed to buy online game distributor Kongregate Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

Disney CEO Robert Iger said Tuesday in an interview that his company views social games as a way to reach consumers in a fragmented media landscape. “People are consuming product in new destinations, on new devices,” Mr. Iger said. “You’ve got to put your product on those devices.”

Social gaming is a HUGE untapped opportunity for insight collection and respondent engagement folks, and when you combine that with the massive global reach of a Google, you have the seeds to revolutionize the reach and observational power of MR.

Next, Wired tells us about another interesting development from Google, this time on combining social media monitoring with predictive analytics:

The investment arms of the CIA and Google are both backing a company that monitors the web in real time — and says it uses that information to predict the future.

The company is called Recorded Future, and it scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents — both present and still-to-come. In a white paper, the company says its temporal analytics engine “goes beyond search” by “looking at the ‘invisible links’ between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events.”

The idea is to figure out for each incident who was involved, where it happened and when it might go down. Recorded Future then plots that chatter, showing online “momentum” for any given event.

“The cool thing is, you can actually predict the curve, in many cases,” says company CEO Christopher Ahlberg, a former Swedish Army Ranger with a PhD in computer science.

How cool is that? Now, just imagine if the massive amounts of consumer data available via SMM, ad tracking, social gaming, and purchasing behavior were combined and run through the Recorded Future system to predict future consumer behavior trends. Wow. As researchers, shouldn’t we be focusing on developing what Robert Moran calls “strategic foresight”  as our core mission? If we don’t, then players like Google, who have a much deeper value-added relationship with brands than most MR firms, will (and are).
Still discussing innovation, I recently came across CivicScience, a firm “rooted in technology and talent emanating from Carnegie Mellon University” and focused on applying “the most advanced techniques in software engineering, data mining, artificial intelligence, and human-computer interaction” in order to collect market research data. I have to say, these guys have developed an amazing approach that is light years ahead of what any company (that I am aware of) within the MR space has attempted. Here is the scoop:

CivicScience is pioneering a new method of quantitative attitudinal research that captures the opinions of large, broad segments of the consumer population every minute of every day. By engaging respondents in strict, one to three-questions intervals where they travel online, we maximize participation and eliminate respondent fatigue. Then, by following these consumers across multiple sites and engagements, we can append responses to a unique anonymous profile in our dataset. The result is a dynamic panel of millions of consumers who answer dozens if not hundreds of questions over time. Analysis of this massive dataset allows researchers to model for perceived biases and apply marginal, if any, weighting methodologies to achieve representative samples.

CivicScience is on pace to gather, organize, and analyze more than 400,000,000 opinions in the next calendar year, with that number rising dramatically. Our goal is to provide our data to professional researchers, brand managers, government agencies, and other decision-makers to enable more reliable and affordable research.

They ain’t lying folks; I know for a fact that they collect hundreds of thousands of completes a day from just one web property they are engaged with and use that to help fuel their Millennial Index. I predict that these guys are going to make huge waves in the MR industry in the coming months. And again, not a single person on their team has a MR background.

In order to get a sense of where the industry is headed, it’s always a good idea to look at where VC investments are occurring. It should be no surprise that the bulk of investments in the MR space are focused on new technologies, especially around social media and analytics. Daily Research News Online reported on this earlier this week with a summary of recent funding activity for BuzzLogic, Photizo and Workstreamer. Again, you’ll notice that these new players do not necessarily come from the traditional MR space.

As we head into the home stretch for this post we’ll shift focus a bit and look at news related to the client side of the table. SocialMediaToday has an interesting blog on Brand Transparency in a Social Media Age. It’s an interesting take on the expectations consumers have in this age of empowerment.

Brands can’t hide behind walls and tell us who they are. We decide who they are by how they act and the quality of their product. Our purchasing decisions will be made with more information at hand. To succeed brands will have to be open and part of the discussion so that consumers are aware of the value their brand has on issues we care about.

We’ve always been social, we just have the technology now to easily connect with others on a massive scale. Word-of mouth has never traveled so fast. Brands need to remember that with every decision they make.

Brands are struggling to get a handle on this new paradigm of instant mass word-of-mouth and consumer scrutiny. In order for MR to flourish, we need to be focusing on ways to not just listen to what consumers are saying, but to arm our clients with the strategic implications of their activities so that they can direct the conversation proactively.

Next, Daily Research News Online has a summary of a recent study on the quest for the holy grail of marketing ROI metrics. There is a compelling quote here from the CBO of Forbes Media that is worth repeating:

Bruce Rogers, Chief Brand Officer of Forbes Media, says the research turned up the finding that ‘the best marketers have invested in both the art and science of marketing… metrics must be equally weighed with a ‘big idea’ that serves as a core theme guiding all marketing initiatives. This was particularly pronounced among those with budgets of more than $1m, where 58% felt that having a ‘big idea’ was more important than metrics.

MR should be positioned well to help marketers develop the needed tools and metrics to deliver on the need for ROI measurement, but are we prepared to lead on this front as an industry? I know there are many individual players out there grappling with this concept, but how close are we to re-positioning the entire industry to take advantage of this need? I think we have some work to do to get there, and we better do it soon, or as the previous examples I’ve shared here have shown someone else is going to very quickly.

We’ll close out with an update on ISO 20252. Apparently a revision to the standards is occurring now driven by the need to incorporate new methods and technologies into the process documentation. Research-live.com has the details:

“Updating the scope of the standard and quality management system; clarifying parts of the standard where queries have arisen by those countries and organisations that have fully implemented it; appraising the standard in light of new and emerging technologies; and incorporating any process requirements from the access panel standard, ISO 26362, not currently in the research standard.”

I guess that makes it official; if ISO is incorporating standards for new methodologies, they must be here to stay!

That’s it for now. We’ll be back soon with the latest information on the trends impacting the global MR industry.

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3 Responses to “More News & Notes on MR Innovation”

  1. Time To Pop The Bubble « says:

    August 11th, 2010 at 10:35 am

    […] order to meet that need, our cache of prestige is likely to continue to decrease as new companies enter the market from outside of the MR space that do a better job of helping clients chart a path for future […]

  2. Sample, Social Media & Emerging Techniques, Oh My! « GreenBook Market Research Blog says:

    September 27th, 2010 at 1:25 am

    […] the issues of convenience samples as well as respondent tolerances for surveys. CivicScience, (whom I’ve written about before) just released a whitepaper on The CivicScience Model for Quantitative Attitudinal Research. This […]

  3. Connecting The Dots… | GreenBook says:

    October 12th, 2010 at 9:26 am

    […] of  ISOs, panel quality, or best practices for CATI. Instead, these trailblazers are discussing “serious” gaming, predictive markets, social media research, and mobile, mobile, mobile. All of the submissions have […]

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