OPINION29 September 2014

Data aggregation and finding the golden goose to lay those eggs


In today’s consumer-focused world, brands, retailers and anyone involved with creating products and services are interested in the consumer journey. As the need to understand buying behaviour becomes more pertinent, this topic is covered extensively by marketers, business schools and management consultant firms.


As a result, a siloed approach to viewing data is not always enough; there is a real need for viewing the world, and cutting across different segments and channels – from tracking media consumption and habits, to the purchase of grocery shopping. Multiple data sources including online, offline, loyalty card, mobile, general transactional and social media feeds are linking up so marketers and researchers can join the dots and move ever closer to a comprehensive overview of the consumer journey.

To achieve this, multiple players from a variety of sectors have formed partnerships to share data and combine technologies, such as the integration of CRM systems. Retailers are getting more involved, as are loyalty programme and platform providers, brands, and publishers (depending on the hook-up with data firms), MR firms, and insight and tech firms.

In short, the space is crowded, but like in any segment, certain companies stand out from the pack.  Burt Technologies, a digital intelligence platform, is one such company disrupting the digital publisher space, working with Cint and others to overlay online behavioural data to panelist profile and self-reported data. 

Others such as Bakamo Social are layering in social media data to both quantitative and qualitative data to provide richer detail and sentiment to data.  Dollywagon, a media sciences company is doing some smart stuff with its patented technology around display advertising measurement – combined with panelist and other source data – and there have been other deals that have taken place recently that circle on this topic. 

Survey Monkey has led a funding round to invest in Apptentive, a company offering in-app feedback tools which will, in the future, provide Survey Monkey customers with richer data to stitch into their other customer data sets.  So it takes Survey Monkey into the area of CRM alongside surveys and panel data collection and also deeper into the mobile channel.

Online panel company Netquest’s, acquisition of Wakoopa is another example of different data collection methods and sources bridging the gap and adding more value to data sets and panelist profiling by marrying profiling with passively measured behavioural data into SaaS-based insight dashboards.

This provides a rich data vein offering a plethora of information that then needs to be aggregated.  There are a number of ways to go about this, such as an existing dashboard (off-the-shelf or integrated into back-end of panel management systems and platforms) which can offer simple functionality in terms of aggregating and structuring the data.

A custom-built dashboard to house ‘big data’ offers more technical sophistication, although data handling and privacy rules need to be a consideration here, as does the ability to append behavioural and transactional data back to a panelist profile, and add attributes for future targeting (similar to tagging cookies and/or downloading apps for tracking purposes of online advertising exposure).

A fuller picture can then be created by combining the panelist profile self-reported data with the data feeds from offline and online sources (loyalty card, cookie tracking data, etc) into a single dashboard.

The partnerships that are emerging in the data collection world are also helping to form a bigger marketplace from which to draw insights. There are real challenges in tackling the issue of how we can continue to meet demand.

For instance, there isn’t an infinite population of respondents to take surveys, and the evolution of technology, social media trends and online gaming means consumers have more ways to spend their time, paving the way for a more competitive landscape than ever before.

There’s no doubt that the MR industry has changed beyond recognition, and MR players have had to work hard to evolve their offering. Strategic partnerships to share data and integrate technology have been a successful move for many, and it’s possible that this approach will continue to gather pace.

Richard Thornton is global sales and operations director for market insight tools provider Cint.