Archive for the ‘online sample’ tag
by Scott Weinberg, Director, Enterprise Hosted Technology, uSamp
Scott resides in Minneapolis, MN and joined uSamp in February 2011. Scott is active with the Market Research Association (MRA) and is the President-Elect of the MN / Upper Midwest MRA chapter. He has spent the majority of his career in the Market Research industry, starting as a project manager on the supplier side, eventually moving into turnkey project design, before spending the last several years focused on online panels and in particular emerging panel management technologies. Scott earned an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin and is on Twitter @ScottWeinberg and LinkedIn.
Over the past 15 years in the Market Research industry, I’ve had the opportunity to work with companies to develop and implement strategies for organizing their customer feedback efforts. During this time, I’ve noticed two prevailing technology acquisition themes:
The first acquisition theme is the approach that results in a fragmented, piece-meal process that relies on a ‘blended’ supplier approach. On first blush, the blended approach seems reasonable, and financially sound. Specifically, in this scenario, different supporting technologies (i.e. survey program, reporting program, analytical application, panel management program) are each vetted and acquired independently.
by Matt Dusig, co-founder & CEO
We, as consumers, are in an age of unlimited exposure. For efficiency’s sake, we agree to terms and conditions without bothering to scroll through 53 pages of stipulations. We volunteer credit-card information and secret passwords without second thought. We are at a crossroads where data mining can be beneficial or detrimental. The more information we give up about ourselves, the better our browsing experience. But at the same time, we often forget about the digital footprint left behind that can be manipulated if it falls into the wrong hands.
I am often reluctant to give 100% accurate information when registering for a website. When prompted to fill out my date of birth on non-legal sites, I’ll state the proper year but a different month and day so that I don’t compromise my privacy. It’s a scary world with all of the data leaks of major corporations, and I am hesitant to trust an unknown source with personal details. I can’t be the only person who feels this way, can I?
by Lisa Wilding-Brown, VP Panel Operations
Lisa Wilding-Brown has over a decade of experience in the market research industry. Wilding-Brown is responsible for panel development & management at uSamp — in particular publisher management/recruiting, member engagement, profiling and rewards. Before joining uSamp in 2009, Lisa served as the Panel Loyalty & Retention Manager at Harris Interactive. Wilding-Brown was instrumental in the development and management of the Harris Poll Online, one of the first online market research panels in the industry and spearheaded the development of over 40 specialty panels, which increased targeting capabilities significantly. Wilding-Brown is a graduate of the State University of New York at Geneseo with a BA in both Communication & International Relations.
In a previous post, uSamp CEO, Matt Dusig wrote about sample burn and asked us to consider panelists as people. Matt’s blog entry resonated with many across the industry including yours truly. All too often, we refer to panelists as sample, but in reality these samples are our neighbors, colleagues, friends and family. As a professional who has been building and managing online research panels for over a decade, I have had a front-row seat to the many challenges of online research panel building. The demands in our space have changed dramatically over the years.
While it is more convenient and cost-effective to obtain low-incidence populations online vs. traditional methodologies such as phone, the inventory of online research opportunities has becoming increasingly difficult as a result. The proliferation of online panels coupled with the abundance of social media channels has generated a fiercely competitive and over-stimulating environment for the average online user. Throw a world recession into the mix and you have an interesting dichotomy of new growth and economic anxiety. Somewhere along the way, the countless pressures of our industry have put the squeeze on our most precious resource: the people who participate in our research.
During the past few years, there’s been a great deal of talk within the market research industry about online panels and sample quality. I’ve been in online sampling since ’99, when my business partner and I started our first sampling firm, goZing.com, which we sold to Greenfield Online in 2005. I’m currently co-founder and CEO of uSamp (www.uSamp.com), a technology company providing panel and sampling solutions to market researchers worldwide.
As someone with a vested interest in the long-term viability of quantitative research online, I want to share my thoughts about areas that need attention. My critique of what can and should be done to preserve the field’s integrity is intended to be constructive throughout, informed by more than a decade of observing both vendor/client and consumer behavior.
Addressing sample burn
Panelists are people. Over the past several years, brands across the globe have become increasingly invested in collecting, interpreting, and monetizing data. To many, data is a means to an end, quickly forgotten as results become more important than processes. We often refer to panelists as “sample,” not “people,” but to market research professionals working in an industry founded on such data, panelists should be regarded as living and breathing entities. They are our neighbors, our friends, our family members. These panelists eat and sleep just like us, and understand the concepts of time management and reward motivations.
Participating in an online research panel can be a tedious experience, during which panelists attempt surveys with the best intentions, and spend a great deal of time trying to qualify inside of narrow quota segments — only to frequently be terminated or screened-out with little or no compensation for their time. Many opt-out and stop taking surveys altogether.
Sampling firms do their best to manage this panel burn, but due to complex business requirements and certain persistent gaps in technology between sample suppliers and research survey software, it’s impossible for sample companies to know exactly what quotas market research firms require. Sample firms are mostly blind to the real-time needs of survey quotas, largely because industry processes are heavily manual and lack full transparency.
Imagine that survey software was able to communicate with sampling databases, and, in real-time, deliver exactly the right people at the right time. Panelists wouldn’t waste time and sample companies wouldn’t disappoint panelists (in other words, burn sample).
When panelists stop taking surveys, sample firms need to refresh the panel with new people – and there are real costs associated with managing this attrition. These costs are passed on indirectly through the CPI (Cost-per-interview)-based pricing model. The fewer panelists used in a survey, the lower the price. Higher incidence (and better targeting) likewise means lower pricing.
As it gets harder and harder for sample companies to retain panelists, the industry has been placing constraints on sample companies. Many initiatives require address-validated panelists. Ask a family member if he or she is willing to give personally identifiable information to a sample company simply to earn $25 a year for taking surveys. Does this mean that panelists who are not willing to give personally identifiable information to a sample company should be left out of online sampling methodology? What does this do to the scalability of online quantitative research? Will we reach a ceiling where companies can no longer fill quotas?