The survey business, and tracking, in particular, is going through an existential crisis. With the proliferation of new data sources and suppliers, clients are left asking where does their survey research program fit in with all the other data sources available to them? This is a fair question so let’s unpack this conversation in a bit more detail.

A changing data ecosystem

In order to put this discussion into context, we need to briefly review the changes that have occurred in the market research industry in the past few years. As technology has forged ahead, we’ve seen more and more aspects of business and society handled by machines and systems which can be monitored and measured on an ongoing basis, creating new data sources of potential value to marketers.

As more and more technological systems emerge that are capable of this kind of large-scale monitoring, the unique monopoly that surveys have enjoyed for decades has disappeared. Surveys are the ideal tool for creating data in a data-poor world; however, we now live in a data-rich world. One of the consequences of a data-rich world is the merging of insights and marketing functions in a more fundamental way. The path from data to insight to action has become far more integrated and streamlined. This means that market researchers’ client audiences have changed and that their insights need to integrate into clients’ wider data ecosystems. Indeed, all types of organisations are scrambling to come to grips with new data trends that did not exist a decade ago, which, in the market research context, has forced insights and marketing functions closer together.