Digital Footprints Abound

Gordon Wyner
Marketing Insights
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Key Takeaways
  • Digital footprints are growing in numbers as more and more consumers are using the Internet to search for product information, purchase products and express themselves via social media.
  • An appealing feature of footprint data is its potential to become embedded into an ongoing business process that enables real-time marketing decision-making without requiring lots of customized analysis and interpretation.
  • The evolution of the insights market toward more usage of digital footprint data coincides with shifts toward more technology applications in marketing.
Will consumers’ digital footprints change marketing research?

Digital footprints are growing in numbers as more and more consumers are using the Internet to search for product information, purchase products and express themselves via social media. Through these actions, consumers are leaving behind lots of information that has potential value for marketers.

At the same time, companies are investing more into harnessing the data from these footprints and packaging it in various ways to generate insights about consumers and markets. Will this wave of increasing digital information become a major source of insights? Will it supersede and/or replace other forms of information-gathering, particularly consumer surveys?

The answer will depend on whether digital footprints become solely another entry in the marketing insights data analysis toolkit, or whether they become an entirely different platform for marketing insights. Do the data and analyses complement other ways of generating insights, and are they mostly additive? Or do they make traditional methods obsolete? Will multiple methods become integrated (online and offline data, for example), or will the new methods drive out the old?

There are good reasons to expect substantial alterations to the insights landscape, and disruptions of traditional ways of conducting and using market research. The definition, creation and delivery of insights require new technologies and may involve new players, roles and responsibilities, and a different view of what makes insights important to a business.

Footprint Appe​​al

Digital footprints have several benefits that could lead to continued adoption, at least for some marketing research applications. With data, marketers have potential to generate insights on what the market as a whole is saying through social media expression about a brand or marketing campaign.

The challenge is to summarize all the comments made on social media (and other media, like blogs) in ways that are consistent and reliable over time. For example, the volume of comments and the direction of opinions (positive or negative) are candidates for creation of index numbers that can be charted by day, month or year, thus enabling measurement of differences between brands and changes from period to period.​

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Author Bio:

Gordon Wyner
Gordon Wyner is vice president of client solutions at Millward Brown and contributing editor of the Marketing Management section of Marketing News.

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