While the highlight of GRIT (Greenbook Research Industry Trends) report – with analysis of Q1 and Q2 2016 – has been Cint’s debut into the Top 50 Most Innovative Suppliers (ranked at #31), it has thrown up some familiar hot topics, much food for thought and real calls to action for the industry on important issues such as sample quality.
Automation emerged as a key theme in the report, and it certainly came as no surprise that it is already transforming much of the industry, widely used by clients and suppliers. We talked about this on our blog last year, conveying the importance of automation in MR as a powerful ally, removing manual steps in the research process and helping to reduce costs through vastly enhanced efficiencies.
Those who have embraced this opportunity in MR and developed innovative products and services – such as sophisticated API integrations and advanced dashboard technology – are now reaping the rewards and are best placed to thrive in this rapidly-evolving landscape. The report also predicts further developments to be the increased use of automation platforms by researchers in charting, basic analysis, and sampling; in addition, this includes the increased automated analysis of image and video data, attribution analytics, and survey design – as well as project-oriented tasks becoming largely automated. Will this be the death knell for researcher skills? We don’t believe so, but the role will shift more towards generating insights rather than managing and reporting data.
Quality is an issue that comes up time and time again, in the area of sample but elsewhere throughout the research process. The overall feeling from both suppliers and buyers is that sample quality specifically is deteriorating with no obvious signs at present of it getting better. It should be of paramount importance for the industry to address this issue, but when price still seems to be the key driver for the majority of those buying, the task of driving up quality and what that entails from an investment perspective, remains a genuine challenge. MR players must shift the mindset towards value for money and look beyond just the price they pay on the invoice. Operational efficiency gains, automation, shrinking speed to market and access to insights, programmatic and other developments from many of the leading tech-led suppliers are adding significant value and cost savings in other ways – which are discounted too often by those buying data collection services. MR players also need to look at their own houses when it comes to survey design and practices further up the value-chain, and try and work more in collaboration with the supply-side of the industry to create a sustainable and growing supply-base so the global insights industry can thrive. Until this happens, the industry will continue to squeeze the supply chain, promoting the corner-cutting that leads to pushing down quality.
Encourage survey participants
How we engage sample and encourage survey participants is also an ongoing theme, intrinsically linked with the issue of sample quality. Based on the polling of 767 people across the UK, US, Germany, France, Spain and Argentina last year, our own research into panelist behavior illustrated an appetite among panelists for survey participation several times a day. The industry needs to nurture this appetite with genuine incentivisation in order to maintain and grow sample. The MR sector will need to work closely with suppliers, including publishers, brands and loyalty/reward program companies to lead this growth.
Moving onto technology, GRIT respondents saw more value in technology innovation as opposed to a focus on service, with some of the previously-viewed ‘niche’ technology moving into wider adoption. While there is often much buzz around IoT data and wearables-based research, these innovations still have a way to go before they penetrate the industry in a more widespread way.
One concern to have emerged from the report concerns the feeling that buyers are increasingly turning to non-MR sources for their Big Data and social media analytics. There is an opportunity here for MR players to take the moral high ground and communicate the value of insight, not just a focus on analytics.
We are clearly in a period of disruptive change, and industry players that have been dragging their heels through previous evolutionary stages will unlikely catch up now. Constantly adapting to the changing landscape is what we must do – there is little point or sense in avoiding transformation. Embrace change, for in change lies opportunity.