Research and analytics: How different are the two really?

The IAB Singapore (IAB SG) has formed a Measurement & Standards (M&S) Committee roundtable to investigate why companies are not harnessing the power of data and remain stuck in traditional organisational structures.

The committee initiated a study and discussion on breaking down silos within the digital industry and unleashing the power of data in the region.

The committee specifically explored two domains - primary research and platform analytics. These have evolved immensely in recent years and unleashing them from their silos to inform business decisions is proving critical for success in today’s fast moving world. Many businesses fail to democratise their data or educate their teams outside of research and analytics domains on how to derive insight.

Five main problems were identified within the industry and some key takeaways and recommendations were formed on how companies can be more successful when it comes to leveraging their data. These have all been published in a whitepaper outlining problems and suggested solutions.

One major problem is that there is overinvestment in technology and underinvestment in people. The challenge is breaking the hype around data while finding effective ways to train a workforce on how to use it.

"Overall, traditional organisational structures are preventing many businesses from getting the most out of their data," Kerry Chapman Brown vice- president SEA, comScore Inc, authoring a whitepaper on the discussion, said.

"Overcoming this will involve breaking out of comfort zones and rethinking the ways in which we collect, store, manage, share and communicate data across companies," adds Stephen Tracy, Data and Insight Lead, SapientNitro, co-authoring the discussion.

Here are some key findings:


For many companies today, data assets are stuck in silos of traditional research and analytics/IT departments. These silos are reinforced by a range of factors, including but not limited to existing talent, roles and responsibilities, hiring plans, P&L's, vernacular, jargon and office culture.

Of course the narrative around smashing business silos is nothing new and we'll never do away with them completely as they are a necessary division of people and skills required for a business to run. The challenge is that the silos established around functions that operate on data do little to create efficiency or productivity often moving towards separate business objectives and success metrics.

Overall, traditional organisational structures are preventing many businesses from getting the most out of their data. Overcoming this will involve breaking out of comfort zones and rethinking the ways in which we collect, store, manage, share and communicate data across the business.


When it comes to domains like primary research and platform analytics there is a perception that research provides one type of data (i.e. attitudinal data, what they think or will do) while analytics provides another type of data (i.e. behavioural data or what they did).

Interestingly, the perceptions that reinforce divisions may actually be more of a generational phenomenon.

Bulowski (Keboola) stated that most "Millennials don’t natively understand the distinction between analytics and research, it all blends into one". This could be due to a combination of factors such as new college and university programs that teach research and analytics skills as part of other courses (which is becoming more common in business and marketing programs); and the rise of new marketing and advertising roles that seek a blend of skillsets and experience.

(Join Marketing on it's upcoming Analytics conference on 16 June in Singapore. For seats, click here.)

Another issue discussed was the challenge of breaking the hype around data while finding effective ways to train a workforce on how to use it. At the core was the importance of focusing on people instead of technology.

Indeed the technology and vendor landscape that enables the collection, storage, analysis and visualisation of data has evolved significantly outpacing the rate at which we have evolved how we think about people, skills and hiring.


Today there is a great deal of discussion about creating data driven culture but many businesses still struggle to find practical ways to put this into practice. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to building a data-driven culture as this needs to be tailored to your environment and people.

Creating a culture of data-driven thinking needs to start with openness and collaboration, and it won't be easy. As you pull a team together and define new processes you will take people out of their comfort zones. This can be a difficult process and can cause conflict and heartache, but if done right the benefits will pay off in the long term.


The biggest problem facing marketing professionals is that they don't ask the right questions. Tim Kelsall of Kantar said "The real issue is people understanding the fundamental business questions they're trying to solve. It's often the case that you've got the technology and data but it's not intelligently applied back to solve the actual business issue".

For example, let's say you've mined your data and identified new customer segments that you want to target. This is only half of the problem as you need to work out how to actually connect with them in a timely and relevant way. The channels you should use, the messaging and the creative are all elements that can be informed by data, but actually piecing it together to craft a winning strategy and execution isn't something your data will tell you.


Success with data depends on having a strong foundation and building this requires time and commitment: it involves putting a vision and roadmap in place, understanding where you are and what you're capable of today, and knowing what you want to be able to do with data in the long run.

An important part of building a foundation is identifying meaningful metrics that are geared to your business objectives and existing assets. Unfortunately it seems that many marketers today struggle to identify meaningful metrics that demonstrate real business value.

Damien Crittenden of Xaxis said "It's common for marketers, working in newer disciplines such as social media to talk in vague terms about metrics like likes, interactions and engagements" In contrast, he continued, "if you ask a CRM person to talk about the same thing, they'll talk about it in an entirely different way with a much stronger strategic foundation. Much more grounded in business value".

"Establishing this committee now means that companies such as Google, LinkedIn, comScore Inc, SapientNitro, Yahoo, Xaxis, Hewlett Packard and a host of other top digital companies can all contribute and teach the region how to be more successful when it comes to leveraging their data," Miranda Dimopoulos, CEO IAB Singapore, said.