Tag Archives: agencies

Exclusive Interview: How Google is Disrupting Market Research with Technology

From the collection of data to the curation of insights,
technology is disrupting market research at every turn. And, it’s new
technologies that are driving this significant change. Traditional research just
isn’t enough anymore.  Brand new ways of
working including lean product development, remote collaboration and
accelerated cycles are requiring that look at research through a different
lense. They are enabling us to gather insights in new and exciting ways, but
also inundating us with myriad sources of data about users that needs to be
Fortunately, this year the producers of The Market
Research Event present InsighTech:
Innovations in Research Methodology & Technology – an event that covers innovative
new ways to deploy mainstream methodologies and presents emerging technology
likely to disrupt the industry even further.
We recently sat down with our InsighTech keynote speaker and Google’s Head of Digital
Transformation Joris Merks-Benujaminsen for an in-depth interview about how
market research is being transformed and disrupted by new technology and how
Google is participating in this transformation.
IIR: How is
technology disrupting and transforming market research?
Joris: I believe
the biggest disrupting factor in market research is the emergence of behavioral
data. In performance marketing organizations you can already see people do a
lot less market research because they rely on real-time optimization and A/B
testing. This doesn’t mean the skills of market research companies are not
useful to the type of questions these companies have. I believe research
agencies can add a lot of value there like they do for instance in brand
building organizations.
Attribution modeling on consumer journey data is for
instance something a lot of performance marketing companies struggle with.
Research companies can be of help if they learn to work with the big consumer
journey databases of their clients and if they can embed analysis outcomes in
the real-time decision making tools that performance marketers use. Also,
behavioral data is very good at delivering the ‘what’, but not so good in
delivering the ‘why’. Questionnaire research and qualitative research can often
add a layer of insight to A/B experiments and other behavioral insights. Again
the art is embedding these insights in the real-time decision making tools
rather than presenting findings to facilitate a one off decision.
IIR: How is
Google specifically disrupting market research?
Joris: Google
analytics in combination with full stack solutions like those of Doubleclick
are likely to have most impact on the role of market research. The biggest
limitation of behavioral data currently is the fact that it is shattered all
over the place. Full stack solutions allow clients to bring data from many
sources together in one system so they provide deeper insight in consumer
journey and consumer behavior. The biggest opportunity here would be to help
clients with that integration of data sources, help them create a structure of
analysis and dashboarding to get the most useful insights out of these complex
databases and finally add deeper layer of insight based on traditional research
methods that can be utilized in the real-time interpretation of the behavioral

IIR: How do you
sort through the current technology trends to uncover what will eventually
change how you do business?
Joris: The
reality is that the technical capabilities to support what you could call the
‘strategy of the future’ are already here now. So the main thing you need to do
is look at the separate technical capabilities and put them together in one
strategic puzzle and then estimate the sum of that puzzle. Full stack solutions
for instance are already here and have most of the capabilities you need to
bring the right advertising message to the right person across the full
consumer journey. Despite that, most companies still use full stack solutions
to get better CPA’s at the end of the funnel, or they use them to run big bulk
deals at the earliest stage of the funnel. Strategies do not yet guide
consumers from awareness towards purchase and loyalty step by step.  Full stack solutions are also already starting
to embed algorithms for data driven attribution modeling. Very few clients
however have successfully integrated their available data sources in the
system, so they can start running meaningful calculations on the data.
Also, you can only gather behavioral data across the full
consumer journey if you have meaningful content across the full consumer
journey. You can only track behavior if people interact with your own online
domains. You can’t for instance track interactions with the website or
advertising of a competitor or a comparison site that is not your own (you can
in a research panel, but not in your own real-time tracking systems). If you
focus your marketing efforts completely around the last stage of the purchase
process, that is the first moment people arrive at your domains and start
transmitting behaviors that you can store in your database. If you invest in
content strategy that offers consumers answers to questions they may have in
the early process of purchase orientation (for instance ‘what are the nice
areas in Asia to visit’ instead of ‘book your hotel now’), they will interact
with your domains much earlier and your database gets richer.
So, the power of data is not just dependent on data
infrastructure, but also on the (branded) content you offer. Hence even though
all systems are already in place, advertisers are not anywhere close to
utilizing the full possibilities. Understanding the interdependencies between
various systems helps you put the puzzle together to predict how the future
changes business.
IIR: In the
digital age, what IS the new consumer angle at Google?
Joris: Digital
marketing has focused on last click attribution for many years. The early parts
of the consumer journey, which include branding, have been ignored for too
long. Questionnaire research and behavioral research in opt-in panels has shown
us that consumer journeys are long and complex and that you need to guide
consumers through step by step. Most data related efforts both of Google and
other digital companies nowadays are about making the consumer journey
transparent and offering the right message at the right moment for different
types of people.
Quantifying the impact of brand advertising is part of that
challenge since brand impact is basically a delayed conversion. We have tools
that allow you to measure brand impact as a one off study (e.g. exposed
unexposed methodologies) or tools that help calculating visibility, reach and
online GRP’s, however what you really want is optimizing your campaigns on
brand impact real-time and with the same level of detail as what you do in performance
marketing. The key lies in translating traditional brand metrics towards
behaviors that are a proxy of those metrics (e.g. likes, subscribers, comments,
voluntary views etc). Only behaviors help you optimize campaigns real-time.
That is not possible using questionnaires because those don’t scale will
enough. If behavioral proxies of brand impact can be embedded in full stack
databases and in data driven attribution algorithms we are a step closer
towards the future of marketing and advertising.   
IIR: How is
wearable technology affecting market research?
Joris: I see
wearable technology as part of the mobile trend and the diversification of
devices. The big challenge here is that again there is an extra factor that
contributes to the shattering of data. Cross-screen, cross-device and cross-channel
behavior makes it harder to follow consumers throughout their journey towards
purchase. Advertisers together with their data partners need to think
intelligently how to find unique identifiers that help keeping a consistent
view of their clients so a person that just visited a website on a mobile
device is not treated as a completely new visitor if he or she visits the
desktop site five minutes later.
IIR: What is the
best innovation in market research that you have seen? 
Joris: I think
the industry has taken big steps in building the first panels where digital
behavior can be tracked across devices with software. In the best cases these
same panels also track online and offline purchase behavior. For instance together
with Gfk that has allowed Google in the Netherlands to run more than ten
studies looking in detail at the consumer journey of consumers in various
product categories. These studies provide a level of insight that you can’t get
anywhere else. Not by using questionnaires or qualitative research and also not
by looking at your own real-time behavioral data. Advertisers are really happy
with these kinds of studies.
IIR: Where do you
see market research technology going in 5 years?
Joris: I hope to
see a full integration between questionnaire research and qualitative research
on the one hand versus the use of behavioral data on the other hand. I believe
traditional research can add a lot of value that helps using behavioral data in
more intelligent ways. Research agencies need to think how to embed outcomes of
traditional research methods to enhance real-time decision making like for
instance the intelligence of real-time bidding in programmatic marketing or the
interpretation of real-time A/B tests.

Want to hear more
from Joris? He will be presenting a keynote session entitled ‘Digital
Transformation for Data Driven Professionals’ at InsightTech on Tuesday, May 5th
at 10:15 am. Learn more about the event and register here: http://bit.ly/1C4fJnr
About the Author:
Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and
print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing,
and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs
including Next Big DesignCustomers 1stDigital Impact, STEAM Accelerator and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business
, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,.
She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where
she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She
can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc.