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data economy illustrations

Data is now the fuel that drives business – identifying potential markets, shaping new products and targeting consumers. But this wasn’t always the case. Our modern “data economy” has developed over the course of 200 years, and we explore that history in a special four-part series produced in partnership with Impact, the magazine of the Market Research Society.

Our “History of the Data Economy” begins with the first election polls of the 1820s and the birth of market research in the 1900s. It takes in the arrival of analytics and the various attempts throughout the twentieth century to better understand consumer behaviour using new data sources. Then, in the early 2000s, we see the rise of social media platforms and the development of online targeted advertising. And our story concludes with a look at what the future may have in store for the data-driven industries.

Below you will find links to all four parts of the series, all written by Timandra Harkness.


Part 1: The birth of customer insight



Part 2: Analytics arrives



Part 3: The new kings and queens of data



Part 4: The future


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