ARF finds slow b-to-b market research adoption, usability

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New York—While the 53rd annual Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) Convention & Expo offered three days of seminars and exhibits focusing on marketing, advertising and media research, questions remain about the outlook for b-to-b market research.

"The major trend in b-to-b market research is an attempt to streamline the research process," said Larry Brownell, executive director of the Marketing Research Association, at the conference, which concludes today. "Technology is helping, but the question remains: Can researchers maintain a standard online panel to make stealth decisions?"

A barrier to fuller use of market research in b-to-b is the standard use of online panels of individuals. Millions of consumers can be assembled in this way, using such inexpensive "compensation" as free browser tools, for example. But b-to-b panels are smaller and harder to assemble, producing weak results, Brownell said. Most ARF exhibitors are MRA members.

Brownell said branding may remain the greatest beneficiary of current market research practices, marshaling global opinions that may then inform marketing campaigns.

Many of the presenters and exhibitors at the ARF show presented variations on polling and survey-taking.

An online tool called the Persuasionator, a joint project of comScore Networks and Persuasion Arts & Sciences, debuted at the event. The product determines optimum buyer responses to different marketing messages, accessing comScore's array of 2 million online computer users, which it calls its comScore Living Panel (CLV).

Clarabridge presented the newest release of its Content Mining Platform, an automated text-mining tool that collects and analyzes public sentiment in online forums, news pages, call center transcriptions, blogs and product reviews. CEO Sid Banerjee said the product may have b-to-b uses in competitive analysis.

Also at the convention, ARF named Brad Fay, co-founder of the marketing research firm Keller Fay Group, the winner of its Grand Innovation Award, given to the individual who "has developed the most innovative research idea in the previous year." ARF cited Fay's role in the development of TalkTrack, which it characterized as the first measurement program for word-of-mouth marketing.

—Christopher Hosford

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