An Interview with Merrill Dubrow, President and CEO of M/A/R/C® Research
In a recent conversation with Merrill Dubrow, M/A/R/C Research President and CEO, he discusses the issues surrounding online research and how the trends in technology are continually changing the industry. “The future of online research faces a second generation,” suggests Merrill, “this means an influx of technology that focuses on online data as the leading source of data collection. This technology includes data mining and spidering of blogs, social sites, and the like.”
When asked about the state of online research, Merrill suggested that our industry’s progress in the next 24 months would need to demonstrate an understanding of the impact of quality on panels. This also implies that there needs to be an increasing focus on policies and procedures that set a standard for quality in online research. “Online research is in a state where you need to ask yourself about supply and demand,” says Merrill, “and the fact is that demand is outrunning research supply. Yet, while demand is high, supply is low, and the price of services is decreasing.” Dubrow states that this is counter to everything all of us were taught in school.
Mr. Dubrow explains that one of the major issues facing online research is the industry’s inability to collaborate and work together on key issues, such as quality, standards, and acceptable pricing models. Merrill recommends research companies and associations “come together to discuss the quality issues of online research and agree on new standards.” He also adds that “in reality, clients want a balance between quality and price and right now some companies aren’t delivering that. We use companies that we feel comfortable with, which are not always the least expensive panel companies but rather can deliver what we and our clients want and need to ensure a successful project.”
And returning to the main question, Merrill believes M/A/R/C is the right size for their clients. “Industry needs and client needs are really the same, and we find that what really separates us in the marketplace is our belief that strong brands start from good research. We are the right size to communicate effectively, and we are a group of truly intelligent and caring researchers. We are able to dedicate senior management on every project, bringing best in class practices to every data quality element of a study.” In addition, Merrill welcomes the idea of increasing efficiencies through technology; including cell phones and text messaging, while also understanding the impacts of social media, including Merrill’s own ever popular blog.
All said, it is clear that size does matter, and that the ability to work together in a collaborative environment is going to make or break many players in the online research industry in the years to come.