An increasing number of advertisers now track their competitors' activities as well as their own with continuous customer surveys. These are not once a year or once a quarter surveys. They are conducted every week—on small samples each week which accumulate over the year into a large database and provide a total, continuous picture.
Every week these organizations capture, in their computers, fresh information on a new sample of consumers. The information covers all players in the market. Ideally it would cover the state of play for that week in regard to people's behavior, attitudes, brand awareness, brand image as well as direct communication effects such as advertising recall, advertising recognition and message take-out. This is then related to other infor mation such as media data (indicating which advertisers were on air during that week, at what times and at what advertising weight) along with sales and market share data.
Continuous market research technology has rapidly become accepted as the best way to accurately assess advertising effects in terms of what works and what doesn't.1 Continuous monitoring of purchase information can reveal if something worked or didn't. However, knowing if it worked is one thing, while finding out why or whynot is another. This diagnostic information also needs to be continuous and comes from continuous surveying otherwise known as continuous tracking.
Market research is traditionally characterized by the large scale, large sample survey representing a single point in time. Known as 'ad hoc' surveys, these were sometimes conducted before an ad campaign and then again after it. Any differences in key measures between these two surveys (such as in the levels of people's brand awareness, ad awareness or the brand's market share) were supposed to indicate possible effects of the advertising. This 'pre/post' survey technique, as it was known, slowly