Spot on Market Research, 4th Edition

Spot On Market Research

August 2018 


Ken Sonenclar, Oaklins’ market research specialist, is pleased to share some high-level industry intelligence in this edition of Spot On.

“As you may notice in this issue, we are beginning to refer to market research as marketing data & insights (MD&I). The new name is meant to evoke the breadth of the industry, circa 2018, and indicate the expanded focus of mandates we are seeking to secure. In this vein, we extend the coverage of technologies we see reshaping the industry with a feature on blockchain. This technology has the potential to radically alter how research is conducted and the utility of that research, disrupting established vendors in its wake and creating opportunities for innovative players.”


Few recent technical achievements have been as widely celebrated and as fiercely contested as blockchain. In less than 10 years since its creation, blockchain has generated gold-rush-type fortunes, attracting more black hats in the process than an Enron reunion. Governments around the world are scrutinizing blockchain, since it has the potential to undermine centuries of national sovereignty. A handful have embraced it, while others have banned it like a terrorist cell. Despite significant technical flaws, some of the world’s largest corporations are spending billions developing enterprise versions. Meanwhile, the ethos that gave birth to blockchain — openness, decentralization and transparency, not unlike the mantra of the early Internet — is being discarded by some as untenable, unworkable and naive, causing deep rifts in the blockchain community.

This piece is not an overview of everything blockchain. Here we are concerned with the impact of blockchain technology on marketing data & insights. And while we will touch on blockchain-based currencies as an integral aspect of the technology, we’re not interested in the billionaires or the criminal investigations that have mushroomed around blockchain cryptocurrencies.

To set the table, we like the taut definition of blockchain from a very useful overview of the subject, The Truth Machine, by Michael J. Casey and Paul Vigna (St. Martin’s Press, 2018). The authors define blockchain as “a distributed append-only ledger of provably signed, sequentially linked, and cryptographically secured transactions that’s replicated across a network of computer nodes, with ongoing updates determined by a software-driven consensus.”

We believe evidence is already abundant that blockchain technology will significantly reshape the way market research is conducted, even as it disrupts companies across the broad universe of MD&I. This goes for the industry’s global standard bearers, its mid-sized challengers and thousands of bit players: no one will escape. We expect to return many times to the subject, so for now we introduce three high-level themes: identity verification, rewarding participation and the value chain.

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