Digital Changes Everything

Market research is swiftly being redefined as nearly sixty percent of the industry and growing is pushed to the digital realm. The always connected consumer is fueling this change. While just two percent of the global economy is transacted on the web, forty percent of the world’s population is connected to it. This presents an unprecedented opportunity for consumer engagement to drive more commerce for brands everywhere.

Technology, of course, is also a force behind this transformation as every interaction on the web releases data which is captured by web servers. Market researchers must now integrate and synthesize numerous data sources, big data, social, mobile information, at the speed of conversation, to be relevant. But how to do that so it yields rich insights about consumers remains a challenge.

Shortfall of Rational Abstract Analysis

Compiling vast amounts of demographical and transactional data is not enough. Whether social media monitoring or predictive analytics, marketers must “talk” to customers directly at an affordable cost-per-contact.

One would think more data would lead to more insight and better business outcomes. But the chilling reality is that consumers still ignore the vast majority of advertising on the web and, particularly, in their social networks. What’s missing in this rational abstract analysis is the emotional context, implicit versus explicit behaviours, which led to the interaction in the first place. Brands are missing out because they are relying on old news and transactional data that may or may not be relevant to their brand.

Big Data Conundrum

More data can create less value. It’s like shouting matches on news network television panels: the louder it gets, the more the viewer is turned off, understanding less and less. Big Data can be like that if marketers aren’t also communicating directly with customers, real people. Sure, Big Data tracks consumer transactions and movements on the web and mobile. But much of Big Data in marketing is represented by cookie crumb and pixel data tracking. The trouble is that at least sixty percent of today’s web traffic can be attributed to non-humans. Worse still, thirty percent of the responses to marketing campaigns are fraudulent, and rising.

While technology can be used to mitigate false positives in digital marketing, the reality remains that ‘stalking’ consumers with ads they have previously clicked undermines any meaningful engagement potential. Big Data can quickly lead to Big Brother syndrome so brands need to balance their tracking requirements with real conversations with consumers.

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