Google recently announced it's entry into the survey based research world with it's Google Consumer Surveys product. This has been long awaited and while much of the reaction has been around it's threat to the DIY survey tools market such as SurveyMonkey, the real impact is on the online sampling market.
Market research has long been a poorly engineered industry. It is repetitive in attempting to do what it has always done poorly. For example, surveys by the industry have really not progressed in the past 60 years. With the introduction of the Internet, instead of innovating, the industry simply took it's old paper survey and marked it up with HTML and called it innovation.
Sampling hasn't improved much either. Consumer panels have existed from the beginning and with the internet they simply just became bigger. To improve panels they aggregated panels and literally make the process destructive to the credibility of the industry.
The real importance of the Google entry is that sampling and panels are being challenged. Secondly, market research for once is being defined by it's value proposition. This value proposition being value to the publisher and the respondent. Forget the use of survey points and win an iPod contests.
And for all those market researchers out there that will look down at Google Consumer Surveys due to not supporting 60 question surveys, I must say that it is in fact those 60 question surveys you are running that are most harming this industry.
What I find most interesting in all this is that Google is now acknowledging that attitudinal and user feedback data is of value. A sign that the Internet is maturing beyond strictly behavior and watching.