1. Digital network adoption. Mass adoption of the Internet
and digital networks is fundamental, if obvious. Their impact on how we
share and manage information is now perhaps the most significant
influence on the evolution of metrics, among all that follow.
2. Attention erosion.
Our networked society has resulted in massive increases in consumer
choice and, from a marketer perspective, an erosion of attention. Many
economists postulate that we’re undergoing a transition away from an
economy based on shelf space to one based on attention scarcity. From a
measurements perspective, there are two major implications: first,
there is a growing demand by marketers to tap into measurements to
embrace this shift. Second, many data collection and measurement
methodologies–such as surveys–are susceptible to the very same
attention scarcity. In market research circles, this is often referred
to as the “continuing drop in panel participation and response rates.”
3. Speed of measurement.
The near-real-time intelligence delivery that characterized the
Bloomberg terminal is permeating nearly all facets of marketing
measurements. Even if measurements are not delivered instantaneously in
a slick, colorful dashboard, the expectation of faster data and
actionable insights is growing. Speed is a competitive advantage.
4. Democratization of data and analytics.
There was once a time when access to vast piles of market-research data
and processing power was contingent upon huge budgets. While that’s
still true in many cases, digital networks have made more data more
accessible–even sometimes to the point of open-source or free. An
interesting manifestation is the growth of free metrics services like
Alexa, Google Trends and BlogPulse to understand Web behaviors. These
services are not heavy-duty market-intelligence tools, but nonetheless
are valuable, directionally significant and influencing perceptions and
decisions around the things they report. Don’t forget Google Analytics
and Salesforce.com, which are offering low-cost marketing and CRM
dashboards that any company can implement overnight.
5. Observational measurements. In digital
networks, people often passively emit both anonymous and identifiable
gestures, whether it’s visiting a Web site, programming a TiVo,
commenting in a public discussion forum or a host of other activities.
Observational research techniques–sometimes called digital
ethnography–are not a replacement for more overt data-collection
methods, like face-to-face surveys, but they are an important addition
when attempting to obtain natural, unprompted insights into the
behavior of customers and prospects.
6. Unstructured data.
Included with the arrival of observational measurement is analysis of
unstructured data. From news stories to discussion forums to blogs to
multimedia-sharing sites, people increasingly publish data abundant
with insights and trends. People now have digital megaphones in which
to share their facts, opinions and experiences, and this is forcing
businesses into a new era of listening.
7. Beyond demographics.
Traditional demographics–like gender and age–will always be important,
but observational techniques are helping marketers to understand and
segment their customers in new ways. For example, based on past
behavior, what are their interests, psychographic traits, life stages,
passions or emotional depth?
8. Customer-centric measurements and planning.
The trends above have one thing in common: customers increasingly are
at the center of the universe, versus companies, brands, products or
media. This is causing big marketers to base their planning more around
9. Data integration comes of age. With
more customer and data touch points come the need for more data
integration and better market modeling. In forecasting, planning,
adjusting and evaluating, data integration is where myriad measurements
will achieve clarity, dimension and action.
10. Reevaluating relationships with whom and what we measure.
Finally, as consumers become more empowered, the disciplines of
measurement and research will increasingly cater to them (just as
marketers are doing in general). Top-down, “people-are-subjects”
measurement approaches will need to evolve toward greater propositions
of relationship, loyalty, value, trust and reciprocity.
Where do you think measurements are headed?