Marketing Research + Big Data = Better Insights (Just ask Facebook and Google)

Did you know that Facebook and Google supplement their big data collection with marketing research surveys and panels? Roy Eduardo Kokoyachuk, managing partner at ThinkNow Research, wrote about the big data giants for Quirk’s on August 4.

“Marketing research enriches big data sets. Big data is limited to specific actions taken. What someone purchased, where someone went, what link someone clicked on, what the weather was like when they bought ice cream, etc. But it will never give us the why (well as long as Elon Musk’s idea doesn’t become a reality) behind these actions.”  — Roy Eduardo Kokoyachuk, managing partner, ThinkNow Research

Why do huge data companies–the world’s biggest social network and search engine, respectively–rely on surveys and panels, when they have so much direct access to what users are clicking, sharing, talking about, and buying? To better understand what Facebook and Google are trying to learn, Kokoyachuk looked at the questions each company is asking.

Facebook: Asking Users Questions
He found that Facebook focuses on asking users questions about advertisements (“Was this ad relevant to you?”), even hiring a team of people to surf a version of the social network and report on the effectiveness of its algorithm.

Why? Kokoyachuk says Facebook recognizes the limitation of measuring data–in this case, clicks–as a sign of interest. Looking at an item online isn’t necessarily an indication that the user wants their feed filled with more of the same. Kokoyachuk points out, “The perfect algorithm would feed you things you didn’t even know you wanted and that’s where the traditional marketing research comes in. We don’t know what we don’t know, and Facebook has figured out the only way to know that is to ask.”

Google: Relying on Panels and Surveys
Google, on the other hand, focuses more on traditional marketing research surveys and panels. Kokoyachuk says, “The company has a mobile app and opt-in panel of Google users that can unlock premium content and get Google points to use at the Google Store in exchange for answering questions.” Google also has a panel called Google Guides; the company asks respondents questions about their experiences at restaurants, malls, and other public spaces. These questions allow Google to gather insight they may not be able to learn by studying the data. (For example, “Would you consider this a trendy crowd?”)

The Future of MRX  + Big Data
Kokoyachuk says researchers and others working in the market research space can draw three conclusions from Facebook’s and Google’s MRX programs:

  • Market research still serves an important purpose;
  • Traditional marketing research like surveys and panels complements big data sets by making sense of the numbers and providing the “why”; and
  • Companies in the market research industry will succeed if we can embrace big data and tailor our value propositions accordingly–finding ways to share our expertise with clients in this new context.

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Originally sourced from SSI Blog

About AMSRS 386 Articles
The Australian Market & Social Research Society Limited (AMSRS) is a not-for-profit professional membership body of over 2,000 market and social research professionals who are dedicated to increasing the standard and understanding of market and social research in Australia. The Society assists members to develop their careers by heightening professional standards and ethics in the fields of market and social research.

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