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Sample Wars, Smart Technology and
the Future of Data Quality

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By Alan Gould, CEO

 

Over the last six months in particular, our uSamp and Instant.ly teams have built and launched exciting new products, improved existing products, hired top talent and opened new markets. We are moving faster than ever, working harder and leaving our competitors breathless. What we are attempting to do—provide great, advanced market research products for an industry that historically has been slow to change—is not easy. I want to share some of my thoughts about what success for us will look like and how we are going to get there. So, let’s start with the business of selling online sample, our core business. We are justifiably proud of how fast we have become a major player in the space but there are trends that we need to get out in front of if we want to continue to prosper.

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October 3rd, 2014

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.

December 30th, 2013

Posted in Industry Trends

Why Mobile, Big Data and Real Time
Are Here to Stay

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uSamp's CTO, Carl Trudel

Recently, uSamp published a Q & A with CTO, Carl Trudel, who is pushing his team to think outside the box and anticipate client demand before it happens. Here he shares the challenges of recruiting, iterating and the importance of being device agnostic.

Q: How are you developing technology to keep up with clients’ needs?

A: It’s all about platform and flexibility. When you think in terms of platform, you don’t build custom development for clients. Instead, you configure features for specific client’s needs. This is much more powerful and allows us to move much faster. This is key to staying on top of the competition.

Q: What is different today than five years ago?

A: A lot! My top three would be mobile, big data and real time. Mobile is not the next cool thing anymore… it is our way, our basis, our framework. Big data is not about lots of data anymore; it is about the right data. And finally, real time is not just a nice thing to have – everyone expects real time information for anything we do. At uSamp, we understand all this and that puts us ahead of anyone else.

Q: How fast can you bring product to market?

A: At uSamp, we move fast. We follow Kanban agile methodology, which optimizes the flow from product ideation to production release. Our highly customizable platform offers flexibility and allows us to deliver new product very fast.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Unfortunately, everything. I always want more and to do better. I am very hard on myself and on the team. There is so much potential for what we can achieve – I wish I did not have to sleep at night!

Mobile is not the next cool thing anymore… it is our way, our basis, our framework. Big data is not about lots of data anymore; it is about the right data. And finally, real time is not just a nice thing to have – everyone expects real time information for anything we do. At uSamp, we understand all this and that puts us ahead of anyone else.

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October 2nd, 2013

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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November 30th, 2011

Posted in Uncategorized

Conservative Innovation: How MR is Keeping Pace with Technology and Global Expansion

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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.

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September 28th, 2011

Posted in Uncategorized

Online Sample Quality in a Changing Market Research Industry

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by Matt Dusig, co-founder & CEO

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?

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September 7th, 2011

Posted in Uncategorized