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Twitter and the future of market research

DECEMBER 23, 2011 – Companies that want to conduct market research on how consumers interact with their content on social media websites have a new tool. As Gabe Donnini writes in a column for Marketing Land, Twitter has released a number of platforms and features useful for advertisers and brands hoping to deliver ads, maintain pages and get statistics on the success of both.

Donnini points to Twitter’s mobile application, its branded business page services and the Twitter Analytics tool as several developments that facilitate a more analytical approach to marketing campaigns.

“The expansion of advertising on Twitter is another weapon in the marketer’s arsenal,” he says. “As quantitative techniques continue to be integrated into the world of advertising, expect campaigns to become more aggressive, lean and targeted.”

That’s because the tools will deliver more insight into how brands and products are currently performing, how effective certain types of marketing are and the ways in which audience members respond to particular tweets, link-sharing and other online content.

One of Twitter’s features – the mobile app for advertising – allows marketers to increase exposure and click-through rates by letting them buy ad placements “among a highly targeted group of consumers based on keywords, interest and country,” Donnini explains.

He also cites a Twitter sales letter, first published by ClickZ, which announced that Twitter would soon be launching the next phase of beta testing for its advertising products. In addition, Twitter will start enabling advertisers to target network users who do not even follow their particular brands through its Promoted Tweets.

While Twitter has certainly changed the marketing game in 2011, there are many other developments that will also be influencing the sector.

Aaron Reid, a behavioral scientist with Sentient Decision Science, recently issued several predictions for the marketing industry in the new year. He notes that many market research firms and corporate insights divisions will start applying the behavioral sciences “list of effects” to create solutions for marketing issues.

“The whats, whens, whys and hows of behavioral economics will become better understood and more readily applied,” Reid adds. He says market researchers will also seek out ways of more discretely playing to shoppers’ emotions.

He also expects companies to start “dissecting” shoppers’ decision processes into two parts: the priming they are subject to before they hit the stores and the choice that makes them act at the checkout. In order to capitalize on these opportunities, market research companies will need to learn how they can “influence consideration during the pre-shop phase with priming,” as well as how to use that preparation to “trigger behavior at the point of purchase both online and in-store.”

Some of the factors that will inform those strategies include online simulated shops – which experiment with designs and associations – ethnography and projective qualitative techniques, he says.

Additionally, Reid predicts that there will be a desire among those in the sector to draft “practical guidelines” on the appropriate times and situations to use certain research methods. In order to avoid the “heat” that may come to neuromarketing, market researchers will need to devise methodology structures that incorporate their business questions as well as their plans for finding answers.

He concludes by saying that the market research industry has arrived at a “defining moment” in its evolution, and that in order to sustain innovation and growth, those in the industry must continue looking to the behavioral sciences for understanding of human activities and thought processes.