Become a Fan

Other Pages

My Photo


  • Disclosure
    Nobody pays me to write any of the copy on my blog, and should I ever have the good fortune that they do, I will declare it. My main employment is as the owner and principal of The Future Place consultancy. The Future Place provides two key services 1) training and services to industry and academic bodies and 2) consultancy services to companies. The details of the companies I work with are a private matter, but if I blog about any company who has paid The Future Place more than expenses recently (approx. two years) I will mention that they are a client. I hold equity in Virtual Surveys and provide consulting services to them from time to time. I am paid to run courses for a number of trade bodies and over the last few years clients have included ESOMAR, AMSRS, MRS, and MRIA.

My daughters eShop

« Remember, the Internet is not safe! | Main | The implication for the exposome for market research? »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Ray Poynter

Hi Tdoyon, I think misleading is a little harsh? I do not feel that a comparison has to be apples-to-apples to be of interest. Please note, I say in the post that the chart does not suggest that analytics is replacing market research.

What I am highlighting in the chart, or trying to, is that the level of interest, as measured by how often people type a word or phrase into Google's search engine, in the words "market research" is declining (and I highlight that is a typical pattern for a mature phrase). However, interest in another term used in the knowledge area, one that has areas of overlap with market research, is showing strong growth in interest (I also highlight what some of the drivers of analytics are).

Another valid issue about the chart is that because Analytics is a single word it is easier for it to get more hits than a phrase like "market research". However, that does not explain the different trajectories of the curves, which is based on the interest amongst people who use Google's search engine.

When I ran the Google Insights chart, most of the top news terms that it reported were about Business Knowledge and Information - confirming my view that they were interesting to compare. A few years ago ESOMAR declared that market researchers should seek to 'own' Business Knowledge and Information - a goal that is probably further away now than ever.

I agree with the point that the Y axis could/should have been labelled. However, I disagree with the insult about misleading since the note at the foot of the post explains what the Y axis measures. The reason for this is that Google Insights is pretty loose in how it describes the values it produces. What they say is "Insights for Search aims to provide insights into broad search patterns. Several approximations are used to compute these results.
The Insights for Search map is intended for general analysis of volume patterns. Borders are an approximation and may not be accurate.".

The numbers the Y axis are an arbitrary scale based on relativities, scaled and normalised (by Google) to fit into the range 0 to 100. If a more popular item had been added, the values for Analytics would be lower, if Analytics had been removed the numbers for Market research would be higher, but the shape of the curve would remain broadly the same.

I accept that I ought not to have assumed that people were familiar with Google Insights and the way it reports information. I do not accept that the intention or likely effect of the chart is to mislead.


The problem with this graph is a failure to define analytics. The word is now so overused as to be meaningless. When somone says analytics thet could mean metrics, numbers, analysis, descriptive statistics, predictive modeling, financial analysis, java, nosql, sql, data, databases, reports, all of the above, or none of the above. In contrast, there is no such "miscommunication" regarding market research.

The above graph is not an apples-to-apples comparison and should be considered misleading. Speaking of misleading, why isn't the y-axis labeled?

The comments to this entry are closed.