’s Shifting Role: From Aggregator to Arbiter

Image of a businessman workplace with papersTwenty years after the launch of, questions about the changing concept of content, the new face of the customers and the overall business landscape, abound.

To mark our 20th year in business I will address these key issues in a series of essays, not as a way to reminisce, but to help consumers of research understand the current playing field and what the future may hold.

In the early days when the distribution business was called The Information Catalog and most sales were done by phone and delivered by mail (we had a bindery in the back of the office to put the reports together, “on demand”) our value was as an aggregator. The key phrase at the time was “one-stop shop.”

But back then there were far fewer market research publishers, many of the names were well known, and trust was built through marketing, history, methodology and past success.

In the early days we were a valued source, not for our wisdom or knowledge of the publishers or their content, but simply as a way for people to see what was available in one place. Over time as people moved from searching Yahoo! and Alta Vista to Google, it became clearer that the search engines increasingly served as the primary aggregators because they had everyone’s content to organize and sort, while we could only show a subset. 

But then something happened post-2012 when becoming a “publisher” became as easy as printing a PDF document. Confusion reigned as users and consumers across the planet who had relied on industry research as a trustworthy, top-of-the-information-food-chain partner now wondered where their data was coming from?

There seemed to be new publishers popping up every day with splashy titles, and as the famous New Yorker cartoon suggests, “On the Web, nobody knows you’re a dog.” 

On a search results page, nobody knows if you’re an analyst with a PhD writing your reports on the back of three months of hardcore research, or whether you’ve put together some charts and graphs from a string of someone else’s press releases.

And from the hundreds of calls we field each week, a growing number are from nervous clients asking us whether they should buy publisher A or publisher B. We help clients avoid bad research as much as we help them acquire good research.

What do we know about a publisher’s history? Their methodology? Their trustworthiness? Having worked with hundreds of publishers over the years, our research specialists are in a unique position to aid clients and offer objective information and advice to help navigate these increasing quality concerns.

One thing that hasn’t changed in the past 20 years is the core function of market research as the benchmark for key decisions about markets, products, companies and geographies. But’s role has shifted from simply providing an information catalog of data to becoming a trusted partner for validating this crucial resource.

Robert Granader - Headshot-608156-edited-741202-editedAbout the Author

Robert Granader is the Founder and CEO of, a leading provider of global market intelligence products and services. 

Topics: Market Research Strategy Market Research Provider