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Archive for the ‘Mobile Research’ tag

Choosing a Sample Partner: Three Tips
for Vetting Your Vendors

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By Joe Jordan, Vice President of Panel Operations

In my many years of managing custom market research projects in all study type varieties, one issue constantly lurked in the underground of all sample providers: Where is this sample being sourced?

Many times I discovered that the sample vendor I chose for my high-priority, top secret, critical study was just a mere middle man to other various sample vendors I specifically did not choose because they had wronged me in the past. Much like elephants and the IRS, researchers never forget vendors who have failed them at the final hour. They have nightmares of that 4 a.m. email the day a study should close, saying “We are reaching out to other partners” on a “best efforts basis.” It makes finding a sample provider for your next project all the more daunting.

As you send out your RFPs to preferred sample vendors with your exact demographic profiles and 18 nested quotas of left-handed grape soda drinkers who bought a laptop and puppy in the past 30 days, think through the reality of how likely that vendor can deliver your exact needs. Is it really possible they have this group of consumers anxiously waiting in front of their computers for the riveting subject line “A New Survey Just for You” to come flashing across the screen so they can sit for 45 minutes and give their entire purchase decision criteria in glorious detail?

So how can researchers separate those who only talk from those who also walk? Do your own research! Here are three suggestions for how to find the best sample provider for your next study.

  1. Ask what percentage of their projects requires partners. All sample companies use partners to assist in some percentage of their projects — the real question is what percentage. While the complexity of the audiences is always the driving factor in these studies, it is important to understand how often they outsource. Doing so usually limits a provider’s control of timing and feasibility and causes you anxiety about making the deadline. Part of why we brand uSamp as a technology company first is because it is technology that allows us to grow and manage our own, diverse panel. When I joined uSamp, I was impressed to learn that 95 percent of the projects completed in 2013 were sourced exclusively from our own suite of proprietary panels. This includes a wide variety of consumer segments and business-decision makers that are part of a network of websites and publisher partners. This vast network ensures the uSamp panel has the breadth to provide unique individuals from all customer segments willing to give their feedback on products and brands.
  2. Take the registration survey. As you evaluate your sample vendor, take a look through their registration page and review the type and number of questions required to sign up. Go through the double opt-in process to find out what the second wave of criteria is asking. Ideally, you should time this process and think through how long it takes to sign up and become an active member. Will a new panelist be willing to take this much time before even knowing if they can participate in the studies? Many of these registration forms are longer than mortgage applications and are about as exciting.To improve panelist engagement and reduce tedium and burnout, uSamp has launched Adaptive Profiling™, a profiling system that asks respondents targeted questions in short bursts and then utilizes predictive analytics and complex statistical analysis to identify other tendencies about panelists and connect them to the appropriate studies. This also allows uSamp to quickly assemble an audience that is custom-suited to clients’ specific needs while offering panelists more opportunities to qualify for studies without the cumbersome registration form.
  3. Ask how many unique panelists register daily. You’ve heard it before: “bigger is better.” At least, that’s what every sample vendor says when they proudly promote their panel as the largest on the market. But as a researcher, you care most about how they can target your specific audience quickly and accurately with unique and meaningful data.A raw count of millions of panelists does not mean they are engaged, active or applicable to your needs. You need respondents who are making decisions now, using smartphones, and interested in offering their opinions in the moment, rather than the heritage panelists who have been taking surveys for income for six years and registered their profile details on an eight-pound laptop. uSamp consistently signs up 18,000 new panelists a day who are fresh, engaged in the moment and ready offer insights on your products and brands.

Before you dive into your next relationship with a dubious sample vendor, remember to ask about other partners, play the role of the panelist, and find out about their new daily signups.

I hope you find a deep and reliable partner, at least until the next complex project comes along.

Joe Jordan is a senior market research executive with 20 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies. With a background in international panel development and management, Joe is tasked with expanding and maintaining the health of uSamp’s online panel, as well as scaling the mobile panel to increase the lifetime value of iPoll. His most recent position was as the strategic account director for Networked Insights, and he also previously served as director of client services and research operations at Troy Research. Joe graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a B.S. in marketing.

Leveraging Mobile and Online
Communities to Gauge Customer Context

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By The Editors

How do your customers view your products and services? In a marketplace where constant change is the new normal, being able to see the world through your customers’ eyes is essential to growing your business and finding new and retaining existing customers. In the video below, “Mobile Research Communities: An Agile Approach to Customer Context,” Allen Vartazarian, VP of product at uSamp, and Julie Vogel, VP of Communities at Morpace, discuss the following:

  • How new mobile research capabilities let you interact with your customers in-the-moment
  • How online research communities can help you build customer partnerships that strengthen and deepen your understanding of customer context
  • Why one Fortune 500 company changed its approach to a target audience based on a combination of these research approaches

Mobile Research Communities Webinar: An Agile Approach to Customer Context from uSamp on Vimeo.

Written by adrien

June 13th, 2014 at 10:11 pm

5 Things Every Survey Programmer
Wishes You Knew About Mobile Research

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By Joe DiGregorio, Senior Director, Global Programming

As is the case with any trend in market research, large or small, the rapid growth of data collection on mobile devices has brought with it countless new tools and methodologies.

Having started my career at the dawn of the transition from computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) to online as a method for data collection, I’ve lived through many of the challenges associated with this type of transition before. There’s a game-changing medium in town, and (almost) everyone wants a part of it. Clients are told they need it but not all of them know why or how to use it. Research methodologists brainstorm how to transition the old methods to the new without impacting historical data, and they invent brand new methods never before feasible with the old research methods. Developers race to create every new application they can think of, hoping enough people can be convinced they are useful. Some of them stick and become part of new way of doing research.  Some of them gather dust as they are replaced or fail to prove their worth.

While all this goes on, your operations team is acting and reacting, drawing, erasing and redrawing the line between what is possible and what is not possible. It often falls to them to be the bearer of bad news when a request is made for something that isn’t quite feasible, regardless of any upstream promises. This unfortunate position, however, could have been avoided.

With that in mind, and without further ado, here are five tips about mobile programming to help you develop a better mobile study:

  1. Keep in mind that mobile devices have small screens.
    I know what you’re saying: “I already know that mobile devices have small screens!” However, this influences survey design in many ways. Having programmed some detail-rich conjoint designs in my time, I’ve witnessed firsthand how much content we all try to cram onto one screen. Screen real estate is at an even bigger premium on hand-held devices. Keep your questions short and sweet and avoid horizontal scrolling.
  2. Test all questions on all devices – and then test again.
    It goes without saying that some question types will render differently on mobile devices vs. desktop/laptop devices. If the survey platform being used for your project is worth its salt, it will have optimized rendering for mobile devices. For some question types – grids in particular – the layout of the question will be significantly different. Many platforms will display grid questions as a vertically scrolling series of single or multi-select questions on a mobile device instead of the default matrix style display. This goes back to the size of the typical mobile screen that will not allow the horizontal space necessary for more than a few columns without horizontal scrolling. Be sure to test your surveys on both types of devices so you know exactly what your respondents will be seeing.
  3. Specify on which devices you want your survey to be available.
    Related to the above point, you may want to control what types of devices can be used to take the survey. Many survey platforms will detect the device type at a general level. This detected information could then be used to alert respondents to use a different device and/or screen them before continuing the survey. At a minimum, you should track the device type in case there are significant differences in responses between the two groups.
  4. Keep it short.
    Yeah, you’ve heard this one before. Still, on mobile devices it is even more crucial that you limit your survey length. Your survey faces much more competition for the respondent’s attention on a mobile device than it would on a desktop or laptop. Mobile surveys work best when they are quick transactions.
  5. Take advantage of the unique capabilities of the mobile platform, but
    be prepared for the results.
    Some of the most commonly used features unique to mobile surveys are the multi-media uploads. Being able to ask respondents to take a picture of what they are seeing or doing, record a video of the same or provide an audio response instead of typing an open-ended answer in a text box can provide rich results. They also can provide some unexpected and surprising results. If you have any of these question types, make sure you and your project manager accommodate time for at least one preliminary review of the uploads before the end of data collection. You may need to recoup some respondents you remove from the data based on this review and possibly reconsider or reword your question(s).

While this is by no means an exhaustive list (and some of these items may even sound familiar to those who lived through the transition to online research), keeping these in mind the next time you design your mobile study will go a long way towards efficient, high-quality project execution.

Joe DiGregorio is responsible for all operational aspects of uSamp’s programming and hosting team. He helps define and implement efficient, quality processes for the team, identifies opportunities for enhancing uSamp’s programming offering and works with other internal teams to devise creative solutions for meeting our clients’ needs. He joined uSamp in November 2012, with 14 years of market research operations experience. Joe holds a BA in Mathematics from Nazareth College in Rochester and resides in Rochester, NY.

uSamp University:
The Wonderful World of the IHUT

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By Tina Day, Director of Organizational Development and Quality

uSamp University is our column for breaking down some of market research’s thorniest concepts and terms. We write for both industry newbies and seasoned pros looking for a quick refresher. Because there are often differing schools of thought about the application and value of many of these techniques or methodologies, our intent is not to be the final word, but merely provide an introduction for curious researchers. At the end of each post we’ll also suggest a few links for further reading.

Not to be confused with everyone’s favorite pancake house, an “IHUT,” or simply “HUT,” is, at its most basic, a type of in-home study that involves consumers using and evaluating a product. IHUT stands for in-home usage test, and it has long been one of researchers’ go-to studies for detailed, in-context consumer feedback on anything from pillow cases to, well, pancake mix.

IHUT 101

As the name implies, IHUTs are used to test products with real consumers in their homes. This type of study is particularly useful for testing prototypes before they hit the market, newly released products, or existing products that may be in need of a redesign.

Consumers are shipped the product or sometimes instructed where to purchase it. Their feedback is gathered in follow-up surveys, or, in the case of mobile research, in real-time using smartphones or tablets. IHUTs can give market researchers deep and important insights into many facets of how a product is perceived and used, and how it fits into a consumer’s regular routine. Maybe consumers are overlooking an important step in preparation, or maybe they’re having trouble with the enclosure system. An IHUT can reveal such product challenges.

Here’s what an IHUT can help you do:

  • Learn how consumers interact with the product in a natural environment.
  • Understand sequencing of consumer interaction with the product.
  • Collect in-the-moment consumer feedback about the product as it is used or consumed.
  • Gauge the popularity and satisfaction of the product.
  • Discover new uses for the product.

Going Mobile, Baby!

Mobile technology greatly streamlines home-use testing and can decrease time to field. Mobile can also replace time-consuming, costly follow-up methods such as phone surveys and the outmoded in-home visit.

Perhaps most important, mobile expands what was previously possible with an IHUT. Respondents can offer feedback at every step of their journey with the product – from their first encounter with the product to final use or consumption.

Mobile IHUTs also allow for types of data that we only dreamed of before. For instance, respondents can take pictures and even videos while interacting with a product. Is the packaging too difficult to open? Video tells the frustrating story. Do people find surprising uses for a product that could drive innovation? A picture is worth a thousand words.

Click here to learn more about in-home mobile research solutions.

Simple, But Substantive

The whole point of in-home testing is to get accurate, quality feedback from consumers or potential consumers of your product. To do that, your goals as a researcher should be clear going in, as should your questions.

Here are examples of questions businesses typically hope to answer through in-home testing:

  • How do consumers use my product? It’s likely that the overworked team down in product development overlooked some really cool uses for your product. Consumers won’t.
  • Is the packaging engaging and attractive? This is often your customer’s first encounter with your product, so it can really set the tone for what you can expect from sales.
  • What suggestions for product improvement do customers have? You’d be surprised how honest and thoughtful your consumers can be. They’ll openly tell you about the proverbial good, bad and ugly if you give them the opportunity.
  • How satisfied are consumers with my product overall? If you could only get one data set back, this might be the one. Do they take it to bed at night and tuck it in with them or leave it in the corner of the garage? That could be the make-or-break question.

Size Matters

There are a few key factors to remember with IHUTs, whether mobile or traditional. First, over-recruiting is crucial. Product types, respondent pools, whether a product is purchased by a respondent or delivered through a fulfillment company all affect completion rates, so determining the sample size is an intricate and important stage that needs to be considered. Often, the sample size needs to be well beyond double the responses desired.

For this reason, many suppliers have prescreened pools ready to go. They could have tens to hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of consumers who fit varying demographics. These consumers can often be reached using mobile apps and geofencing technology to locate, recruit and validate willing participants. So much for the pen and clipboard days, huh?

To learn more about home-use testing and IHUTs, here are some suggestions for further reading:

Tina Day is uSamp’s Director of Organizational Development and Quality. With over 15 years in the market research industry, she has a well-rounded understanding of the end-to-end research process and uses her expertise to drive training and development efforts throughout the organization. In addition, Tina supports key initiatives related to quality and operational efficiencies, with a strong focus on uSamp’s Mobile Solutions..

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May 21st, 2014 at 4:55 pm

2013 Year-in-Review: Top 5 uSamp Blog Posts

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Data, whether it was being leaked, mined, or modified by “big,” was on everyone’s minds in 2013. Mobile technology continued to push forward with lower-cost, higher-tech, sharper-pixelated options emerging in the market; while telecommuting, something that seemed the natural progression of the digitally savvy millennial, took a step backward. Many of these major developments also rippled through the market research community, so uSamp’s leaders took to the blog to weigh in and offer commentary on how these changes shaped the direction of our industry.

Here are our top five blog posts from 2013:


#5 An App Alternative: How the Mobile Web Expands Reach

A late entry in the year but an obvious contender for top blog post. In this piece, uSamp director of product Allen Vartazarian explains why mobile apps are not the only game in town when it comes to mobile market research.

#4 The Virtual Office Place: Productive or Disruptive?

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to pull the company plug on all telecommuting sparked huge debates everywhere from the water cooler to Twitter and more. In an age where technology has made working remotely so easy, the ban seemed a counter-intuitive move on Mayer’s part. We took the polarizing debate to our panel and received surprising results, which we pulled together in this infographic.

#3 Big Data in Market Research: Big Deal or Big Hype?

Big data was certainly the buzzword of record early in the year, that is, until over-zealous jargon junkies sucked every last drop of meaning out of it. And while data may be the new gluten-free in the media, it’s a familiar face for those in the MR space. In this piece, our former director of analytics, Siva Venkataraman, took a moment to demystify big data and articulate its real potential.

#2 Mobile Apps and Data Privacy: How Much Information Are You Willing to Share?

In hindsight, it seems less surprising that during a year when we all marveled at the power of numbers, we also become painfully aware of abuses in data collection. With the public outcry over NSA practices, we couldn’t resist polling Americans about where they stood on personal data and privacy.

#1 A Geofencing Primer

2013 was a year to stay on the fence—the geofence, that is. One of the most exciting strategies to emerge in mobile market research was geofencing, the ability to use location-based technology in smartphones to connect with customers in-store, at the very point of purchase or consumption. We found this topic so interesting, we devoted an entire three-part series to it. Click here for parts two and three.

Consumer Intimacy: Can Mobile Help Us Get Closer?

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by Jacob Tucker, Research Analyst with Robert Clancy, Vice President of Insights & Strategy

It is an understatement to say that mobile has had a profound impact on human behavior. We, as researchers, cannot help but imagine the impact it will have on the market research industry as a whole. Mobile has irrevocably changed the mode, the means and the methods. The way we’ve been conditioned to capture, code and interpret data has been altered.

Have you ever interviewed someone, and while trying to transcribe what was being said, you missed how it was said? How about trying to interpret an open-ended response that could go one of two ways (Is “bad” colloquialism for “rad”?)? There is no doubt that it can be difficult to accurately record and make sense of the noise around qualitative data. Enter audio, photo and video capture.

There are many innovative mobile research tools available, but these rich-media response options take insights to the next level. These question types give us a sneak peek into the window of consumers, which is all sorts of wonderful, but begs the question: How can we effectively use that data?

At the most basic level, we can look at these photos, watch the videos, listen to the audio and find themes that emerge. We can then code these themes into nice, neat categories so that they can be quantified and analyzed just like any other data set. This many not sound novel; however, it is the in-the-moment context unique to mobile that enhances these particular data. The importance of in-context cannot be ignored, as it is more reflective of actual consumer experiences.

But we can’t stop there.

The real beauty that smartphone technology brings to surveys is consumer intimacy. We need to go a step further than just quantifying rich media responses and truly unveil the consumer experience. If all we do is code and quantify, we will miss out on the subtleties and nuances that provide deeper insights. In photos, there are surrounding objects. In video, there is background setting and movement. In audio, there is voice inflection and intonation. At times, you can literally see and hear the thought process that leads to a decision. This gives us so much more color than just knowing the actual decision itself. Mobile data helps us empathize with the consumer like never before.

So how can we, as researchers successfully report on this new-found consumer intimacy?

While it’s not feasible to show every rich media response in a study report, it’s important to represent the sample as a whole. Selecting a few testimonials that capture consumer sentiments really helps bring the complete story to life.

When insights emerge from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives, we get one step closer to the consumer. If what we’re really after is consumer intimacy, mobile is uniquely qualified to get us there. Taking insights to the next level? We’re on our way.

Written by lsozio

September 9th, 2013 at 3:37 pm

A Day in the Life of a uSamp ™ Bid Consultant

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by Emily Tomasiewicz, Regional Manager, Bid Consulting

Welcome to the first installment of uSamp’s “Day In the Life of” series. In the upcoming months, we will spotlight different departments that help the company move the needle.

In 2012, uSamp received over 40,000 different bids from all over the globe requesting sample ranging from Type I Diabetics to lottery players in Nebraska. If you do the math, that comes to nearly 200 bids per day! Our Bidding Team  is made up of over 30 consultants, each of who manage these 200 bids regularly. It sounds like a lot – and it is– but because our team is client-centric, organized, and well-educated on our panels’ capabilities, to them, the job is nearly effortless.

Consultants are assigned to specific accounts in an effort to not only manage bids quickly and efficiently, but to build trust and consistencies with our clients as well. Through training and experience, the team accurately determines our capabilities based on our proprietary panel assets as well as a network of publishers. Here at uSamp, there are few instances where we say “No.”  If a job doesn’t appear to fit our capabilities in its current state, we’ll consult with the client on possible ways to tweak targeting or sample size to get the job done one way or another. Speed, full feasibility, consultation and competitive pricing are what drive our win rate.

More recently, uSamp has acknowledged the trending web-to-mobile shift in market research and has acted quickly to build innovative solutions. A division of our consultants is dedicated to all things mobile – a number of requests that is growing larger every day. At this juncture, education of mobile product becomes critical. Knowing the difference between geofencing and geovalidation can make or break the success of a project. Mobile research offers a higher level of data collection as well as quality. Our mobile app, iPoll™, is already capable of photo, video, audio, and barcode collection. As the industry turns to mobile, data collection will only become more rich and dynamic.

uSamp is a technology, surveying and sampling company, which is something that largely sets us apart from our competitors. With the use of our technologies such as iPoll™ and™, we’ve recruited a Mobile Army™ of panelists who are readily available and eager to take our surveys. We’re in the business of finding people who are “hard-to-reach,” with which we’ve historically had success in the online space  Going mobile extends our reach even more and our Bidding Consultants are ready to take the plunge.

Emily is uSamp’s Central Regional Manager of the Bid Consulting team. She has been working in this department for nearly three years; first as an Account Executive, later as Account Manager, and is currently the Regional Manager of uSamp’s Dallas office. She’s tackled new initiatives and has been an early adopter of mobile bidding and product knowledge, including iPoll,, SampleMarket, and Panelbuilder. Emily is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and holds a BA in Psychology.

Written by lsozio

June 17th, 2013 at 1:42 am

Best Practices: Managing Mobile Research Projects [Whitepaper]

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by Dinaz Kachhi, Sr. Manager of Research Insights, uSamp

It is not news that mobile has emerged as a key platform for data collection. It has the unique advantage of gathering in-the-moment feedback through multi-media such as photo, video and audio uploads. But before we get caught up in technological promises, it is imperative to take a step back and discuss how we can maintain the integrity and quality of our research. In our latest whitepaper, Managing Mobile Research Projects, uSamp explores the implications for researchers and project managers in terms of designing, targeting and fielding surveys. It is with this understanding of the nuances of mobile market research that we, as an industry, can create new standards and outline best practices that will define the future.

For the full report, please contact, or visit our website to download a copy.

Written by lsozio

March 14th, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Geofencing Part III: Key Considerations

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In our final installment, Allen discusses some of the implications of geofencing from battery drain to privacy concerns.

How do we address privacy concerns?

It is completely understandable that some people may have privacy concerns associated with geofencing. The way we address these concerns is by being fully transparent about exactly what information is collected. By educating users, we empower them to decide if and when they would like to participate, and are able to preserve their privacy choices. Our Mobile ArmyTM is our most valuable asset, and we take all steps possible to preserve our relationship.

Does geofencing cause significant battery drain?

Any app that uses your device’s location will cause battery drain. The more frequently that app checks your location, the more battery it will drain. After months of development and testing, however, we have established a geofencing solution that has almost no noticeable effect on battery life. To date, we have not received a single complaint regarding battery life from any one of our mobile audience members. If you are considering running a geofencing project, be sure to ask the technology provider what steps they have taken (if any) to preserve battery life, and then download their app so you can experience it yourself (more to come in a future blog by uSamp’s Co-founder & President, Gregg Lavin).

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by lsozio

March 12th, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Mobile Mindshare and The Future of Consumer Insights

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by Jacob Tucker, Research Analyst, uSamp

Mobile Shopping
Over the past few decades, bulky desktops have been swapped out for sleek tablets, Walkmans (remember those?) discarded for iPods, and news consolidated into microblogs. In this age of continuous innovation, new technology loses its shelf life quickly. In the Market Research space alone, the methods for gathering insights have gone from a clipboard to a smartphone.
Research professionals, in the advent of big data, have found the need to dig deeper into the psyche of respondents, to see things through their vantage point, and to capture their behavioral experiences (in real-time). While this may sound like a tall order, the availability of the mobile platform puts these previously unattainable insights within reach. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by lsozio

November 28th, 2012 at 7:01 pm