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23% view research projects as ‘sales tools’ and 19% call it ‘largely useless’

Only 5% of media and advertising professionals trust commercial research studies on digital advertising to be of good quality. Commercial research covers all research activities directly or indirectly funded by for-profit organisations such as adtech companies, industry associations and media sellers and buyers.

According to research from Inskin Media and Research Now, which surveyed 220 media industry professionals online in UK, between August and December 2017, commercial research projects are viewed by 23% of respondents to be “nothing but marketing/sales tools”.

Meanwhile, 19% consider these projects to be “largely useless” due to quality issues.

More than half (57%) of industry professionals surveyed cited the influence of the sales agenda of the company owning the research to be the biggest obstacle when it comes to producing good research.

Respondents listed research agencies as producers of highest quality research, scoring them 4 out of 5.

This was followed by industry associations (3.9 out of 5) and measurement/ad validation vendors (3.6 out of 5). Media sellers (3.1 out of 5), on the other hand, came in last in terms of the perceived quality of research. The quality and detail of the methodology (61%), as well as the relevance to current industry issues (54%) were the top most important factors in assessing the research’s validity.

Face-to-face presentations (56%), infographics (45%) and trade magazines/blog posts (37%) were the top three methods industry professionals preferred to hear research insights from. Meanwhile, webinars (14%) were the least favourite method.

Additionally, a “seal of approval” awarded by an independent industry body is viewed by 71% of respondents as the most effective way to improve how people perceive digital advertising research. Having a detailed methodology explanation for every study (70%) was seen as the second most effective way.

According to Inskin Media’s chief commercial officer Steve Doyle, the industry has been inundated with digital advertising studies over the past decade, with most of them being used as a “Trojan horse” to promote a sales agenda.

This has also created the problem of undermining authentic findings by a company that has commercial interest in proving the research it has done. Hence, the results might be mistakenly ignored when it comes to improving strategy and planning, Doyle said.

“The rise of online survey platforms means anyone with a few hundred quid can produce a survey but hopefully the industry will start demanding far more rigour and detail about the methodology, as well as taking into greater account the agenda of the company producing it,” Doyle said.

Research Now SSI was commissioned by Inskin Media to understand the attitudes of advertising and media professionals towards the quality of commercial research studies produced on online advertising.

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