5 Reasons to Combine Different Data Sources in Your Online Research

In 2016 US mobile users spent 394% more time than the previous year using social and messaging apps.


With this in mind, you can imagine how everything is quickly changing in the market research industry: The way users spend their time, have fun, make purchases, and interact with the world is changing day by day. While, the amount of available data about users keeps increasing every second.

As a researcher, you need to find different approaches to get the most significant information about today's consumers. Good news is now you can access a wide range of technologies and sources of data that, when properly combined, can provide you with a valuable and integrative view of today's consumer.

Let’s see some of the main benefits of integrating different data sources in your market research projects.

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1. Improve respondent experience

Evolving technologies have given way to new data collection methods , that when properly combined, can provide supplemental  (and more accurate) information about respondents. Rather than asking people to describe what they usually have in their fridge, now you can ask them to simply take a picture and upload it! This new method is easier for them to complete, and might even increase engagement since it’s untraditional (in a good way). The  same method  can be applied to uncovering what your participants purchase at the grocery or put in their gas tank. The possibilities are endless!

Don’t forget: You’re paying for the time of those participating in the survey (with gifts, points or even money). So, you’d better use the most appropriate technique to make the most out of your investment, and avoid wasting respondents’ time.


2. Improve data quality

Face it: Memory is not infallible. The more accurate you need your data to be, the less you can rely on participant’s recollection. Try it yourself: Stop reading right now, close your eyes, and think of 10 websites you visited last week (Please don’t cheat. Avoid Google’s apps or your Social Media accounts!). Now, go to your browsing history and check your correct answers. We are sure you will be surprised!

If you still have your doubts, then you can have a look at the paper presented at ESOMAR(C) 2015, “when should we ask, when should we measure”.  On average, people visit more than 100 different websites per day, as well as open their preferred apps more than more than 200 times a day. Knowing those figures, it is impossible to expect respondents to accurately remember each and every website they frequent and how many times they access their apps.. Research has found that people struggle to recall the last  5 websites they visited, let alone the hundreds they have visited in previous months.

But, don’t panic. Behavioral data can fill this gap by automatically tracking people’s online activity. If you want to learn more about it’s possibilities, this eBook  will offer you a deep approach to all the new types of data and when you should use each of them.


3. Detect the top of mind

We just said you can now avoid memory bias combining different data sources. But, what if memory bias is precisely the  information you’re looking for? Asking respondents the sites they visited on the Internet last week or the ads they saw online and then comparing their answers to their actual browsing history is a good technique to analyze what brands/websites are top of mind.

4. Understand why people act the way they do

As we’ve already mentioned, memory is selective, and throughout history researchers have predominantly only been using data that respondents self-report. With this new layer of observational data creates  the possibility of acquiring all the informations consumers have misreported and aid in determining the reason why.  In addition, having the real data can allow the researcher to guide respondents through their answers, in order to get a sort of balance between memory and reality.

Behavioral data will tell you what happened; declared data will tell you why happened.


5. It enables you to get the whole picture

Today, collecting both online and offline information as well as other data sources is a real option.


The traditionally linear, offline and manageable buyer’s journey has turned into a polyhedral and uncontrollable process that might take place both online and offline. New factors (such as social networks, influencers or opinion forums) have become powerful players in impacting the decision making process.


You will only get closer to understanding the entire consumer experience if you gather data from different sources, just like putting together  a big puzzle. Now, more than ever before, we need to get a holistic view of the new consumer, a consumer with new purchase habits, new values, and getting more and more complex day by day.



The online research sector has the privileged position of leading the way of utilizing new and improved data collection methodologies that are possible thanks to the Internet and big data.. It’s time for us to begin accepting these new techniques and combining them with the traditional to improve ourselves as researchers..

It is also time to persuade participants to help generate new types of data . Otherwise, we won’t be able to capture, process and combine a big amount of relevant data.

The question you may be asking yourself is: Is there any reason why I shouldn’t be taking advantage of this data combination? As we see it, you don't have any excuse now ;) . eBook: New types of data

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