Editor's note: Jody Moxham is chief innovation officer and co-founder of PhaseOne. Terry Villines is vice president, director of analysis at PhaseOne. Both Moxham and Villines are based in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

The winds of change have been raging through the market research world for the better part of a decade now. Everywhere we go, marketers are struggling with too much data, not enough data or having data they don’t know how to use.

Analytics has been emerging as the way to make sense of the data, so much so that the world of big data has declared this the decade of the analyst. We would argue that the need for analytics extends deep into the market research realm, particularly into marketing communications.

In view of today’s far more complex and data-rich environment, analytics is a welcome addition to the valuable uses of qualitative and quantitative research. Each of these traditional research methods engages customers directly and elicits useful responses. The current situation, however, requires more nuanced and richer insights than can be gotten by talking with consumers. That is where analytics comes into play.

It used to be that advertising was the single-most important tool marketers had in leveraging sales or market share. The evolution during the last decade has resulted in a changing role for advertising and an increasing role for other forms of marketing communications. Analytics accommodates all aspects of a marketer’s arsenal and provides actionable insights.

Analytics has considerable advantage over directly asking consumers what they think about an ad, a campaign or even the appropriateness of a channel. Once fully developed, analytics lets you look in the headlights and reliably forecast how communications and strategies will perform, allowing you to make adjustments before costly production of any kind. Analytics also provides the ability to look in the...