Why Social Networks Are Cool on Sharing (Their Data)

©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.

With Focus on Ad Revenue, Not Exchanging Prime Data, Social-Media Players Hold Upper Hand Over Market Researchers

Ad Age, 5/3/11

Market researchers may “like” social media, but it doesn’t look like social networks like them back to the same degree. And that may present a problem for the many market researchers who believe listening and mining social media for insights is the single largest opportunity the digital age has presented the field.

Social media “is clearly the communication choice right now and in the future. Each of them have tremendous power and access obviously to consumers,” said Merrill Dubrow, CEO of Omnicom’s M/A/R/C research, who has actually created a collective acronym for the Big Three social networks, “FaTwIn,” a combined force he portrays as the emerging powerhouse of market research. “I think they’re going to be real players in our industry,” said Mr. Dubrow. He then added: “I also think they’re going to be a real threat to our industry.”

For research purposes, social networks hold great promise. Procter & Gamble Co.’s top global research executive, Joan Lewis, speaking at the Advertising Research Foundation’s Re:Think 2011 conference in March, said that consumers increasingly would rather talk to brands in social media than through surveys, which consumers increasingly avoid. And she’s far from the only person in research intrigued by the promise of social media to solve research problems, such as the growing cost and difficulty of getting people to take surveys.

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