Google's foray into MR: A Giant Frenemy?

It was bound to happen. Google is now officially a player in the MR world. The global giant launched Google Consumer Surveys, a new service businesses can use to survey online audiences and publishers can host. This replaces paywalls or ads to generate revenue from site visitors. And the tagline is: custom market research made easy.A classic case of disintermediation, marking the removal of the middle-man in the market research process? Sir Martin Sorrell had this to say about distintermediation in the context of media (in an article published some time ago in AdAge):

"Our established agencies are not moving fast enough" to adapt to the change”. Rather than disregard the fledgling technologies, like those used by start-up SpotRunner which could replace companies' need for creative and media ad agencies and ultimately put much of WPP's holdings out of business, his global giant would rather invest in them. "We could ignore it," he said, "but I'm not prepared to preside over a company that gets disintermediated."

In fact, Sorrell referred to Google as a “frenemy”, seeing how they staked out a commanding position in the media space. And it was just a matter of time before they played in MR as well, as part of a natural progression.

Clients can use Google consumer surveys to conduct online market research. Google then places the questions in front of targeted individuals on the web when they land on a premium content page in Google’s publisher network. The researcher pays $0.10 to $0.50 per response, depending on targeting preferences, and Google and participating publishers earn money from each response. Even the content viewer who responds to the questions benefits, as he/she doesn’t have to pay or sign in to access news articles or videos that might otherwise be found behind paywalls.

It is not a full-service market research service, being rather a largely do-it-yourself solution (with sample added to the mix) in the quantitative space. As an industry we should not bury our head in the sand and hope Google and other potential “frenemies” will be just a passing phase. They, or something equally challenging, will be a regular part of the marketing landscape from now on. We need to get used to the idea.




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