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Last week I was a keynote speaker at the AMSRS 2011 Conference in Sydney. The title of my presentation was 'What's next in online and social media research?'. This post is a summary of my presentation and you can download a copy of the paper from here.

The starting point for the paper was to look at what has changed in the 12 months since my book, The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research, was published. In the presentation I identify 12 trends that are shaping the research industry, and one mega trend that is going to be a disruptor on a grand scale.

The 12 trends were:

  1. Social Media Monitoring
  2. Text Analytics
  3. Netnography
  4. MROCs
  5. Community Panels
  6. The Gamification of Research
  7. DIY Research
  8. Neuroscience and Biometrics
  9. Behavioural Economics
  10. Mass and Auto Ethnography
  11. Research Bots
  12. Mobile Research

I am not convinced that all of these trends are a good idea, indeed I am quite sceptical about Neuroscience and Gamification - but they are current and evident trends.

The big disruptive change, the one I described in the presentation as the big hairy gorilla in the room, is the advent of Big Data. ESOMAR estimate that market research is about a $30 billion business at the moment. By my reckoning about 50% of that total comes from sources that do not include researchers and respondents, for example from loyalty card data, CRM, web analytics, automated measurements, process mining etc. Big Data, the integration and multiple sources of data, is much bigger than market research, and it threatens to destroy some existing businesses. However, market research has something unique to bring to the party.

Most of the types of companies working with Big Data cannot add the 'Why?' to the picture. The 'Why?' is the key strength that market research can utilise to earn a place at the Big Data party.

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