The marketing research industry is no stranger to buzzwords. Big data. IoT. Artificial intelligence. While some are short-lived, others stick around long after the first big splash. So when I began bumping into mentions of “blockchain and MR” last year, I made a mental note to pay close attention. 

While many people still only associate blockchain with cryptocurrency, it’s proving to have a much wider reach. Steven Johnson wrote in an article for the New York Times in January, “In a way, the Bitcoin bubble may ultimately turn out to be a distraction from the true significance of the blockchain.” Blockchain has the potential to disrupt a variety of industries, from banking and health care to hedge funds, academia, voting and, yes, marketing research. 

I connected with Isaac Rogers, CEO, technology, 20|20 Research, to discuss what blockchain is, how it could impact the way consumers (and brands) interact with personal data and what influence it may have on the future of the sampling industry and marketing research in general – including qual. In the interest of full disclosure, 20|20 Research was awarded the U.S. Patent 9,990,418 for establishing a system and method for creating an opinion and behavioral data economy. 

Blockchain is so new to the MR industry. Could you provide a simple overview of what blockchain is and how it works? 

I probably have three people a day ask me, “So what is blockchain?” In most cases, they’re looking for a technical explanation of how it all works. I always encourage people to focus not on trying to understand the technology but on understanding what it enables. Here’s why: I bet 99 percent of people have little technical understanding of DNS, TCP/IP protocol and H.264 encoding protocols and how they work together to create a media content distribution system, but everyone knows what this is in their daily life – YouTube. It’s the technical way for me to sa...