Because it's worth repeating in full, here is Rory Sutherland on the accountability (or otherwise) of research and research companies...
"Elsewhere on brand republic, someone suggests that WPP is buying another research company because "research is measurable, and WPP likes measurable things". I would suggest this is the complete opposite of the truth. Research panders to the love of measurement, for sure, but as a marketing activity I cannot think of anything less subjected to rigorous cost-benefit analysis than the money, time and effort squandered, oops, I meant 'invested' in researching things. Nemo custodes ipsos custodiet.
A quick point of clarification. There is a vast difference between measuring things and being measurable yourself. (Referees are very rarely sent off the pitch.) The research industry does measurement - but is not itself all that measurable. Which is all the more reason for WPP to be buying more of it.
Quite simply the industry enjoys two complementary advantages of any business. One, it caters to a vital and growing need - that of every single person employed in marketing services to be able to point to an Excel chart to justify their last trip to the bathroom. Yet, secondly, while satisfying this need, it is not itself exposed to all that many awkward questions about its own real value.
In truth, I'm not sure marketers question the value of research any more than compulsive hand-washers ask hard questions about the value of wash-basins. It's just something you need. Frequently and everywhere.
The analysis of IPA Effectiveness Awards suggests that ads which are pre-tested are on average less effective than those which aren't. Will this be a setback to the business? Will it bollocks. Research in 2008 is simply like TV advertising in 1976 - it's just something you do by default If you want to keep your job, go and do some research.
If you want to make some money, go and buy a book about behavioral economics instead.
You have to hand it to WPP. A recession is a great time to buy a research company. At no other time is the demand for fatuous self-justification higher."
So there you have it. Next time a research company starts throwing their weight around, ask them for proof of their effectiveness credentials, before they start having a go at yours!