Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Insight Innovation Exchange conference in Philadelphia. There were many vendors that offered solutions to many common challenges that market researchers face. One common theme I noticed was the challenge for market researchers to make sense of big data. Yes, big data has become something of a buzzword, but consumers are creating a lot more data and market researchers can thrive if they embrace it.

For some time now, Forrester has been writing about the importance of incorporating behavioral tracking insights to marketer researchers’ research mix. Don’t get me wrong — survey research is and will continue to be incredibly important for companies to gain insights on consumers. A survey can capture a variety of consumer behaviors, sentiments, and attitudes. In one survey, marketers can assess their market share and find out the profile of their customers and what they want. And survey research can help provide insight into the “why” — the reasoning behind the choices that consumers make — something that is not possible with behavioral data. However, survey research cannot detail granular activities due to respondent recall. Enter big data, and with it many possibilities for behavioral tracking. Yes, this is nothing new for customer intelligence professionals, who analyze customer transactions, online web tracking, and other consumer behaviors. But by combining survey and behavioral data, marketers get the best of both worlds: They get consumer profiles and psychographics, brand health metrics, and a detailed record of the actions that those consumers actually do.

At the Insight Innovation Exchange conference, many presenters shared this notion that the future of market research involves integrating with other data sources and systems. This means integrating survey, transactional, social, mobile, and even community data. For example, Scott Miller, CEO of Vision Critical, said that he envisions the future where communities no longer exist as free-standing entities within an organization, but rather are integrated into larger data ecosystems like customer relationship management (CRM) platforms.

The Insight Innovation Exchange conference presented a myriad of solutions to help market researchers leverage big data to connect the dots. There were many, many vendors, but some of the vendors that caught my eye included:

  • Placed: A mobile app that consumers can download that checks them into locations automatically in exchange for deals or coupons. This app captures data on the physical locations that consumers visit, and marketers can use this information to understand, for example, where else their customers shop.
  • Field Agent: Uses mobile to take market research to the next phase. By using GPS data and photo sharing, panelists provide companies with insight by completing tasks (like shopping at a particular store or for a product, trying a product and taking pictures) and taking surveys, photos, and other commentary about their experience.
  • Realeyes: Uses computer vision to read people’s faces and to measure how they feel.It offers a service where users can upload a video or image and get a read on consumers’ emotional reactions using video devices like a webcam or in-store camera.
  • Neurons: EYE2D2 helps marketers understand what draws attention to an image and where in an image or ad people are going to look. Users can submit an image, and without running a classic eye-tracking study with subjects, it will automatically predict where consumers will focus their attention immediately after submitting the image with over 80% accuracy compared to traditional eye tracking.

These are just some of the vendors showcased at the Insight Innovation Exchange conference that can help market researchers integrate existing research efforts with some of the big data that’s out there. There is more to come, and I look forward to next year’s event.