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Google Consumer Surveys: We welcome our new robot overlords

No really, we do.

Last week, when Google announced their formal market research offering, the industry was understandably concerned about its impact. Just ask Omniture or WebTrends if they’re glad that Google Analytics is as ubiquitous as it is. Gmail, AdWords, Google Maps, Analytics – all of them dominate. Brands like Genentech, Virgin America, National Geographic, and Motorola use (and evangelize) Google Apps, replacing expensive enterprise services.

Most B2B businesses are not too happy when Google decides to launch a formal offering in their wheelhouse.

But we are.

How Google Consumer Surveys Works

Companies create online surveys to conduct market research, which Google places in front of premium content hosted by Google Publishing Network partners This replaces the pay wall, and allows readers to access premium content by answering a few questions – similar to how Hulu allows web TV viewers to watch shows commercial-free by answering survey questions.

Marketers and market researchers pay per response, and Google and the publishers share the revenue. It’s as convenient and scrappy on the business end as AdWords, and as slick on the user end as well.

And, as VentureBeat reports, with publishers and brands like Pandora and Lucky Jeans signed up to participate, it’s got some cred straight out the door.

Why it’s a good thing – wrapping qualitative research in fast, effective quant

Len Murphy at GreenBook wrote up an excellent analysis of the implications of Google Consumer Surveys on the GreenBookBlog. I won’t pretend to provide nearly as much insight here.

However, we see this as a huge complement to insights work. By socializing the ability to quickly and inexpensively run effective quant research in an unobtrusive way, it will free time and energy up to run deeper qualitative studies – longitudinal, iterative, media-rich programs that get brands an even richer look into the consumer mindset.

Surveys are easy. Ethnographies, building true communities, co-creation – these things are difficult and the payoff is massive. So by giving brands the ability to wrap their deep, qualitative research in a credible and inexpensive “quant surround,” Google Consumer Surveys can only help brands get a better holistic picture of their customers.

And, just so that you’re all on the same page, here’s what sometimes happens when you don’t welcome your new robot overlords…

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