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The language of research gears up for Web 3.0

in Market Research

A-Chinese-Internet-user-b-001There are exciting times ahead for language companies working in the market research sector as the industry gears up for Web 3.0 which uses technologies that can analyse the meaning of content and information.

Companies are increasing the number of languages they work with. Apple’s website, for example, has doubled the number of languages it supports to 24 in the past 12 months, while Facebook now supports more than 70 (up from 2 in under 2 years). It’s estimated that the global website of major multi-nationals now support on average 20 languages, up from a mere dozen, 5 years ago.

Now add the trend for the internet to better support non-latin scripts. Top-level domains for UAE, Saudi Arabia, Eqypt and Russia were the first to be introduced earlier this year. A further 18 countries are in the approval process including China, Korea and India. More are set to follow allowing researchers to recruit online from a pool of native speakers; a first in some markets.

The use of non-latin scripts in market research is likely to be a fast moving area driven in part by a local and regional demand for native versions of web pages and associated search patterns. In mid November, for example, registrations for the international Russia domain name in Cyrillic script opened and 100,000 registration requests were received in the first three hours and over half a million over the first 6 days.

The future growth in the internet points to a clear localisation bias as well as a shift away from English as the de-facto language of the web. “Right now, more than half of the content on the Internet is not in English” says John Yunker of Byte Level Research. “Ten years from now, the percentage of English content could easily drop below 25%”.

Fully-localised domain names and websites present an opportunity for companies to market and gain feedback on their products and services in new countries. Meta tags (the key identifiers for search terms embedded in web pages) will need to be translated for optimal search and localisation to make the site visible within the local country’s search results. Ben Taylor, Language Connect’s MD comments, “There’s a lot of feedback coming from the international travel, leisure and automotive sectors where the customer experience is paramount and where search terms might be very subjective or require precise localisation. Searching for feedback about experience at a particular hotel for example, might cover a dozen different terms for the words ‘bathroom’ or ‘cleanliness’. It doesn’t just apply to large corporates, SMEs use multilingual searching to extend their international footprint very cost effectively and achieve high search engine rankings in less competitive markets”.

So is the demand for instant, multilingual feedback going to overwhelm the research world? Will quality be substituted for quantity as people turn to machine translation software and web scraping tools?

“There is certainly a strong demand for open ended coding and analysis in the original language”, says Ben. “At the same time there is a strong requirement for really high quality interpreting services. Clients want specialist language skills, like the ability to use the same vocabulary as marketing-savvy teenagers, or the language of medical staff when working with sensitive topics with a patient in hospital. And it’s clear that technology is having a rapid impact on changing research methodologies; clients can offset the cost saving they achieve using in-language coding (saving on back translation costs) and invest any remaining budget in qualitative depth probe interviews which amplify the research findings”.

Web 3.0 is beginning to have a major impact on the structure of the market research and insight industry. There’s increasing demand from international companies to synthesise large volumes of search and research information across different languages and cultures, using technologies such as web scraping techniques to bring all the information together.

Language Connect will be discussing these and similar opportunities at the Insight exhibition in London in June 2011. Please contact us beforehand if you would like to discuss any commercial partnerships in advance.

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