The future of research is supposed to be healthy
But it’s a conundrum.
Managers are hungrier for customer insight and data than they have ever been.
Maybe they’re more risk averse these days, and have to tick the box.
Or maybe there’s a real trend toward putting the user at the heart of decisions.
Either way, demand for consumer data and insight is going through the roof.
And yet research teams always struggle for headcount; and research agencies are under more and more margin pressure.
What’s going on?
Firstly, access to customer insight is democratising, which means that research teams and agencies are only part of the picture. Product managers do their own interviews. CX teams run massive experience feedback programmes. Analytics teams are predicting how customers will behave and what they’ll want tomorrow.
This is mostly a good thing …
Secondly, technology is up-ending research.
Client teams are bringing work in house. Platforms are eating margin that used to feed agencies. Every week sees a new tool promising cooler / faster / easier ways of getting the job done.
And this is attracting capital, which hopes to grow fat.
In the last few months, several insight platforms have had chunky investments that shine a light on the future of research: cross-device behavioural tracking; automated analysis of qualitative discussions; smartphone armies of on-demand researchers; visual analytics for images and video; neuromarketing and emotional measurement.
Recent investments in the future of research
Here’s more than $50m of recent funding taken by five insight platform startups – each of which show how investors are viewing the future of research and consumer insight.
$10m Series A Funding, March 2018
Remesh is a ‘large scale qualitative research platform’ that uses artificial intelligence to enhance moderation by analysing and segmenting responses in real time.
$12m Series A Funding, March 2018
Streetbees is a managed service, tech platform and crowd panel of ‘bees’ who can be engaged at short notice to gather real-time insights in markets around the world. Projects gather consumer data, photos and videos directly from the Streetbees community in 87 countries with applications including real-time opinion polling, mystery shopping and live retail intelligence.
$16m Series A Funding, May 2018
Realeyes uses webcams, computer vision and machine learning to measure how people feel as they watch video content online. Customers include advertisers, publishers and content creators. The platform has a self-service front-end for users to drag and drop video or images, select the audience sample and launch a study. Results are usually available for analysis within 24 hours.
Acquired by Forrester July 2018
GlimpzIt analyses unstructured data (pictures, videos and text) using Machine Learning. You can upload existing source data or new data can be pulled from social media, product reviews or blogs. The ‘GlimpzIt Crowd’ also gives access to a research panel of 15 million respondents for gathering fresh data through surveys.
$13m Series C Funding, July 2018
Verto Analytics provides research and cross-platform measurement data through its own passively-metered panel. Products include Verto Watch, a self-service portal for accessing data on consumers’ cross-platform use of apps and websites; Audience Profiles, offering audience data to publishers; Smart Poll, for custom research combining surveys with behavioural data; and real-time access to panel data via API.