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Archive for the ‘self-serve market research’ tag

Four Years of uSamp: The Men Behind The Story

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As uSamp blows out its fourth birthday candle, co-founders Matt Dusig & Gregg Lavin discuss what the number four means to them.

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Written by lsozio

March 20th, 2012 at 5:31 pm

INFOGRAPHIC: uSamp Datapoint Study Finds Gender Gap over Social Media Privacy

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Most women using social media are just as willing to reveal personal information about their relationships, jobs, brand preferences and political and religious affiliations as men — but when it comes to details like phone numbers, location, and email or physical address that might put their personal security at risk, women are significantly more wary than men.

These are among the findings of the “Social Media Habits and Privacy Concerns Survey,” a new nationwide study conducted by uSamp, a leader in providing targeted audiences for global consumer insights and innovative SaaS technologies for audience engagement and business intelligence. Using SurveyBuilder™, its self-serve survey authoring platform with on-demand consumer audiences, uSamp surveyed nearly 600 adult men and women about the social media sites they frequent and the kind of information they share online.

What do you share on social media sites?

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Written by lsozio

January 30th, 2012 at 1:02 am

Best Practices for Managing Remote Offices

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by Yanawan Saguansataya Hurlbut, VP, Client Services and Programming

As VP of Client Services and Programming, Yan is uSamp’s global management maverick, as she is responsible for 40 people across two countries and over four locations. She honed in on her adept management skills at Greenfield Online where she was tasked with developing and managing the Sample Only client service strategy with a 33 person organization across three countries. She served 10 years at Greenfield, growing from project manager to VP of the North American Sample Only product line. She continues to leverage this operational experience in her current role at uSamp where her latest endeavor is the creation of a programming and hosting team to support clients looking for a one-stop shop.

The fact that businesses operate as internationally connected networks is old news. It is impossible to function as silos in a global market. As we continue to expand and try to recruit top talent to our companies, it has become imperative to consider how we can effectively communicate across culture, and understand the job market it as it applies to our recruits. With my largest project management team overseas in Delhi, India, I have had to quickly learn how adapt my management skills to address the diverse markets that we’ve entered into.

The lessons that I have learned are particular to the local work culture, but I think that there are many practices that can apply to managers in any circumstance or country. I will elaborate on the keys to recruiting and training employees in an environment outside your realm of expertise.

Hiring

Understand the employment landscape:

We all know that research is invaluable, which is why we are in this world. Before entering a new market, it is critical to understand what makes people tick–in a professional sense. What are the qualification standards? Do workers move around or stay at their post? What drives employee satisfaction?

There is a lot of movement in the competitive Indian job market, and it is quite normal to come across a Project Manager candidate who has a three-page resume with multiple advanced certifications, and two-three year stints with an employer. Advancement, and the opportunities that enable advancement over the course of a career, is paramount versus staying static at the same company for longevity’s sake. This has made the hiring process exciting, but also daunting because of all the well-qualified candidates. Which leads to the next point,

Set clear qualifications requirements:

I know that our PMs are going to be client-facing, so we stress excellent verbal and written communication skills–a must for any multi-national company. We filter candidates by a formal interview with on-site managers, a basic skills test, and a telephone interview with an off-site manager. Once we find a suitable candidate, we prepare ourselves for a considerable wait-period, as often times employees must give 30 to 60 days of notice before they can leave a post. Preparation is the key to finding and securing the right candidate

Training

Customizing the training program to the culture:

As in any on-boarding process, it is important to find out how to best connect with your new hire.  What is his or her central motivating factor? Do they learn by watching or doing? Do they like to lead by example?

Training has been a critical and evolving process for our uSamp India team. Not just because we think it’s necessary to get everyone on the same page, but because our applicants expect it of us. Applicants judge a company’s clout by their training process, and place as much emphasis on learning as achieving. Our team places strong emphasis on formal training versus the “baptism-by-fire” approach that is a popular practice in America. Hires seek to build their resume, and look to a company that will help them enhance a particular skill set, and elevate them to be experts in their field.

As you wonder how to incorporate this into your own program, remember that training takes many forms.  The most obvious is new hire orientation of systems and processes.  Exposure to new study designs and technologies or even a new client set is invaluable experience that should not be discounted.  More obvious training opportunities include industry-level training (CASRO, MRA, etc.) or process-level training (PMP, Six Sigma, etc.).

Retaining

Fostering office culture:

Today’s workplace is a diverse place and retaining key contributors can be a daunting task. It is easy to undermine “culture” as just another industry buzzword, but it is at the heart of any company. Creating a cohesive culture is as important as any hiring or training process. At uSamp, every location has a game room with an Internet–enabled gaming system connecting all our offices. We regularly host lunches/dinners at our offices and quarterly team outings. Remember that fun, flexibility and an open attitude is key.  Good luck!

Does Size Matter…for online panels?

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by Matt Dusig, Co-Founder/CEO

uSamp is a little over three years old. To date, we’ve seen over 6.5 million people globally register and double opt-in for our research panel websites. We register about 10,000 new panelists every day, adding over 300,000 panelists to our database each month. Sounds cool, right? But does the size of the panel at 6.5 million really matter?

Most sample companies market themselves according to panel size, quality of respondent data, variety of the traffic sources and customer service excellence. I am guilty about marketing the size of our panel. We announce the size of our panels to show scale, and to impress clients. Do you blame us?

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5 Tips For Smarter Investment in Market Research Technology

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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.

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Sample Quality is a Function of Sample Pricing

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by Matt Dusig, co-founder & CEO

I recently attended a session on online panel quality at the ESOMAR Congress in Amsterdam. The discussion, led by a panel of experts, digressed from quality to privacy, and I found myself wondering why price, a critical factor that affects online panel quality, was omitted from the debate.

In my previous blog post on sample quality, I emphasized the importance of viewing sample frames as groups of real people. I also suggested that the pricing model for sample should shift from strictly cost-per-complete-based pricing to cost-per-finish pricing.. This model would allow invited respondents to always be rewarded for their time spent attempting or completing surveys.

Why am I so passionate about price point? I believe the MR industry is in danger of putting a tourniquet around the supply side of our business. Many market research companies are being continuously pressured to provide the highest quality service at lower prices. Consequently, as pricing pressure occurs, it squeezes the cost that sample suppliers can charge, and creates bidding scenarios where the lowest price wins. The challenge: Most research firms want attentive, thoughtful answers (quality sample), but many internal research teams ordering sample are rewarded for obtaining the lowest-cost sample.

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Sensitivity to Sample: Why Customization and Variety are Key to Sample Quality

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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.

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SampleMarket™ 2.0: Enhancements to our Self-service Platform Offer Full Transparency

by Clif Fleitas, Director of Hosted Research Technology

Fleitas is the Director of Hosted Research Technology, is responsible for all business aspects of uSamp’s suite of technology offerings as well as helping to shape the product developments for both existing and future products. He joined uSamp in early 2009 and has a background in sales, project management and business development with online panels.  Clif holds a B.S. from the University of Texas and resides in Colorado.

We live in a world of on-demand. eCommerce platforms are reshaping transactions to be more direct, and raising expectations to the “one-click” standard.  Amazon gave us the recommendation engine, a way to automatically filter the chaos and predict needs based on preference and purchasing history.  Smart businesses from airlines to local shops have borrowed from this model, and have simplified marketing and sales by catering directly to the consumer.  Bottom line: we have become accustomed to getting what we want, when we want it. Some might call this impatient, but I call it efficiency. We, in the market research industry, must start integrating these efficiencies into our own platforms.

Despite the advancements, the online sample industry does not operate to its full potential. Clients jump through hoops to communicate with sample companies in order to find qualified panelists. We often trade dozens of emails back-and-forth to get feasibility and pricing on projects, and then wait on project managers to be assigned to setup, test and launch studies. There is little transparency and efficiency in the process, and we lose touch with the various stages of the projects. These tedious processes are thwarting our ability to generate valuable research.

Too often, sample companies are reluctant to show “what the man behind the curtain” is doing. Some panel companies won’t disclose if they are using panel vs. river, or when they are using their own panel alone or working with sample aggregators. We, as consumers, demand to know how our food is prepared and products are made — is it any wonder our research clients want to know how their surveys are being filled?

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uSamp’s Security Layers: Protecting Clients’ Data

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by Melanie Courtright, Senior VP of Research Solutions

Melanie Courtright is Senior Vice President of Research Solutions at uSamp. In her current role, Melanie is responsible for sampling quality, customer satisfaction, and research on research initiatives, including product development and   testing. Before joining uSamp, Melanie spent over a decade at a full-service research firm in Dallas, TX where she developed her strong research background and her passion for effective sampling.

Everything in life has layers. Onions, our skin, the earth, the atmosphere, even something as fluid as the ocean. Each layer acts as a reinforcement with the ultimate goal of protecting what lies beneath—the vital core.

At uSamp, we followed Mother Nature’s example when designing our data quality system. We’re employing layers of security that work together to protect the core asset—your data. A great example of a layered approach is the identity validation model we’ve developed.

As the first MR organization to utilize third-party identity validation techniques (since 2007), and share significant R-on-R with the rest of the industry, our team has a rich heritage in this area. Our repeated testing of nearly all of the digital fingerprinting and identity validation products available lends us a perspective shared by few.

Our experience and thorough analyses have demonstrated that there is no single solution to ensure high quality. As such, we have created a layered approach to validation and security to best serve our clients. This technique capitalizes on the unique strengths of each validation company, yielding the broadest possible set of respondents with the best security. Read the rest of this entry »

Q&A People Spotlight: Culture, Innovation, Communications and Success

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with Melissa Valenzuela, Director of Human Resources, melissa@uSamp.com

As the technology leader within the market research industry, uSamp works diligently to ensure a balance of work and play.  With a BA in Public Policy and History from Duke University in North Carolina,uSamp’s Vice President of Human Resources, Melissa Valenzuela comes to uSamp with an impressive background in human resources management for start-up environments and global organizations. Valenzuela  tells us how she plans to help keep the “human” in “resources.”

Q: How do you describe an entrepreneurial, technology company like uSamp?

A: Creative, nimble, aggressive and sharp. Our company embraces and searches for technically savvy people who have a natural inclination towards progression, improvement, and finding new and exciting ways of doing things. Our company is open to change, and is typically fast acting, flexible and forward-thinking.

Q: How has recruiting the right talent become a challenge for a company serving the market research industry with such a strong technology focus?

A: More so than a challenge, our focus on technology is a great recruiting tool because we tend to appeal to talented professionals who value innovation and new technologies. These individuals are interested in working with uSamp because our technology focus sets us apart from most of our competitors; we’re “different” in a very fascinating and refreshing way.

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