The digitally-driven fragmentation of consumers' media habits has drastically increased the amount of data available to marketers and market researchers alike. And with things changing so rapidly, they could be forgiven for feeling a little lost - and in need of guidance.
It's for this purpose that Warc has organised its upcoming Online Research: Now & Next conference. Taking place in London on March 1st, the event will bring together leading industry voices to discuss the full spectrum of online research techniques. This week, I've been speaking to two of the speakers to get a preview of what they're going to be talking about.
Guy Rolfe, Kantar's mobile knowledge leader, told me why he thought mobile is creating a "smarter" society - with more and more consumers buying smartphones, and more and more devices becoming linked to the mobile internet.
But how can researchers take advantage of these changing consumer habits? Rolfe is optimistic, saying the highly-granular data offered by mobile - with the "always-on" nature of the smartphone giving marketers the opportunity to target their messages more precisely - can be successfully integrated with more traditional online panel research and other types of MR. At the conference, he'll also talk about emerging mobile devices such as the iPad and the Blackberry Playbook.
Meanwhile, Mike Cooke, global director for online development at GfK NOP, gave some insight on how researchers' data collection techniques are evolving. To Cooke, the "internet of objects" is a key online trend to look out for: with millions of devices from fridges to satnav systems set to go online over the next few years, the data available to researchers can only become richer and richer.
Other speakers at the conference include Reg Baker, chief operating officer at Market Strategies International, who will talk about the "pitfalls" of using online panels, and how researchers can eliminate bias. From the agency side, Face Group's head of social media Francesco D'Orazio will concentrate on brands using Twitter to engage with their customers, while Monique Morden of Vision Critical Panels will discuss latest geolocational research trends, including mobile-oriented services like Facebook Places, FourSquare and mocoSpace.
One of the highlights of the day should be the guest keynote from Niels Schillewaert of the Vierick Management School, who will discuss best practice in how "market oriented" managers should use research insights.