Archive for the ‘technology’ tag
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?
by Matt “Deuce” Dusig
In the late 70’s, my best childhood friend, Steve had an Apple ][ computer in his house. I was mesmerized by the beautifully clunky machine and believe that’s where my infatuation with computers started. Although the word processing programs on the computer were cool, the games were my real passion.
We spent months playing Microsoft Decathalon, Castle Wolfenstein and Sherwood Forest. Prior to this, I had played the first Pong games connected directly to a TV. Although limited in excitement, these new games were totally immersive.
by Ben Leet, Sales Director
Ben joined the uSamp UK team at the very beginning, and is charged with directing the UK sales team, and building out our new client relationships in Europe. Prior to joining uSamp Ben held senior positions with Decision Tree Consulting, Toluna and Ugam, the first of which saw Ben designing, conducting and delivering full service research programmes to blue chip clients for over 5 years, before joining the online panel business at Toluna in early 2008. This combination allows Ben to understand all aspects of the market research process, adding value to uSamp clients along the way. Ben is a Graduate of the Nottingham Business School in the UK with a BA (Hons) in European Business.
uSamp’s very first blog entry heralded the inauguration of uSamp UK by featuring a Q&A with European MD Gaelle Normand. Since then, our office has expanded. We serve as a reminder of uSamp’s international presence, and the global integration of the MR industry as a whole.
We may be virtually connected at all times, but this the past month has reminded us that sometimes breathing the same air as MR Thought Leaders is better than a Skype chat. On a smaller scale, uSamp gathered our global team and clients at Paramount, the top of the Centrepoint building in London for our European launch party. On a larger scale, MR professionals from near and afar assembled at the ESOMAR Congress in Amsterdam. There were several late nights across the events, but also some interesting debates and discussions with clients, colleagues, and even the odd competitor!
As you can imagine, the MR industry was a-buzz with healthy debates ranging from online panel representivity (a blog post in itself!), all the way through to innovations such as gamification, mobile research and social media monitoring.
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?