Strategies & Tactics

The Importance of Secondary Data in Research

February 1, 2018


There are 210 designated market areas in the United States, but which are the five best ones for rolling out a new marketing campaign? Designated market areas are geographic regions of the country in which the Nielsen Company measures local television viewing and provides demographic data for marketers.

When deciding which areas to target, secondary data is a good place to begin. Using secondary data might not seem as exciting as collecting original survey data or scraping the internet to understand online behaviors, but it should form the core of any research. Secondary data lets you build on existing research, which leads to better results, and saves time and money.

The question of which regions to target for a marketing rollout was asked by a public university that has a large online student body and is considering expanding beyond its regional base. The university wanted us to consider every designated marketing area in the country, but doing so with any statistical precision would not have been cost-effective or necessary. Surveying 210 regions would have required more than 100,000 interviews and cost $1.5 million just to collect the data, most of which wouldn’t be used except to eliminate geographies.

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