“Friend or foe”? the role of databases in media research

The reason this paper is entitled “friend or foe” is a reflection of the way in which direct marketing databases have been regarded by users and practitioners in the market research industry. In the 80’s and early 90’s in Europe at least, the direct marketing or lifestyle database, that is to say information sources collected with the primary purpose of selling the names and addresses of respondents, were viewed in generally hostile terms. This was for two primary reasons:
i) The lack of any form of respondent anonymity was almost the antithesis of the traditional market premise.
ii) There was and still remains to a large extent today, a concern that the data gathering exercises carried out by the direct marketers, coupled with a greater level of consumer awareness of all things marketing, impacted negatively on the levels of co operation for market research.

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