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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.

2014 Year-in-Preview:
Ben Leet’s Predictions

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In this post, Ben Leet shares his predictions on where the market research industry is headed in 2014.

What is your New Year’s resolution in 140 characters?

Stay ahead of the game! The pace of change will not slow down anytime soon.

What do you anticipate being the biggest trend for 2014, and why?

As mentioned before, I think the wider marketing world is going to move increasingly into big data analytics to find uplifts in marketing ROI, and I still think research has a big part to play in this area. And, of course, mobile methodologies will continue to evolve and adoption of them will increase.

What companies/brands do you think will do well in 2014, and why?

Those that understand how consumers think and move with them will do well across all verticals, but those that continue to “do what we’ve always done” will start to fall by the wayside pretty quickly.

Any thoughts on what 2014’s biggest buzzword might be?

Mobile!

What will success look like in 2014?

For my company it will be to continue innovating and bringing new concepts and ideas to the marketplace, and I hope the same is true for the industry at large.

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.

uSamp’s CTO on 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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Written by lsozio

October 2nd, 2013 at 6:02 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 Instant.ly™, 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, Instant.ly, 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

Can Tablet, TV, and Mobile Get Along? Understanding Cross-Platform Viewing Behavior in 2013

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NBCUniversal's Prime-Time Olympic Viewership Soars Despite Time Delay

With an estimated 219.4 million viewers, the London Olympics were the most-watched television event in U.S. History. In its broadcast of the event, NBCUniversal bet on a triple strategy of live Web streaming, live cable coverage, and tape-delay broadcast—an approach that would challenge old assumptions about when, where, and how audiences are engaged.

As a key participant in NBCUniversal’s Billion Dollar Olympics Lab research initiative, uSamp applied its consumer insights platform, to track consumers’ real-time reactions, sentiment and behavior during the Games.

Before the 2012 Olympics, broadcasters had assumed that a smaller number of viewers would watch primetime Olympic coverage if they knew the results before airing. Survey results by uSamp revealed the opposite to be true. uSamp suggested that the multiple platform strategy made it more likely that people would watch primetime coverage—not less. NBC Olympics Digital set records with engagement time, live video streams and page views, while NBCOlympics.com, its mobile site and apps, delivered unparalleled engagement, traffic and consumption.

The lessons of the 2012 Olympics illustrate how the convergence of mobile, online, and broadcast platforms is shaping behavior as consumers interact with multiple touchpoints.

What can broadcasters/marketers/consumer tech companies take away from this scenario? And how will it change in 2013?

For the full case study, please contact lauren@usamp.com.

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Written by lsozio

January 17th, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Pioneers Of DIY Online Sampling

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by Matt Dusig, Co-founder & CEO

I believe that competition is at the core of any successful tech company; pioneers lay the groundwork, new entrants build on top of that groundwork, and all parties become more fiercely committed to solving problems. Take search engines for example. Yahoo! pioneered a hugely popular early search engine for the web. Its limitation was in how quickly its database of human-powered results could keep up with the rapidly expanding web. Google saw a problem and created a better solution.

I was recently asked by Bob Lederer of the Research Business Daily Report about my thoughts on how Google Consumer Surveys (GCS) has impacted the Market Research industry. I’ll reiterate what I wrote in the first product review of GCS: “GCS’ move into the Market Research industry brings good visibility to on-demand SaaS insights.” I truly believe that competition propels innovation and everyone wins.

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Written by lsozio

December 12th, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Email Sampling Is Dead: Long Live The Web (and mobile)!

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by Matt Dusig, Co-founder & CEO

Every once in a while, I like to rock the boat. With this blog title, it seems I’ve just predicted the demise of one of the core functions of sample delivery and it’s not only a challenge to the MR industry, but to uSamp as well. This doesn’t mean we’ll stop recruiting panelists into surveys using our email sampling systems — that would mean cutting off the lifeline of the millions of panelists that come through our systems every month. But, having experienced many technological changes in my life, I have become more adept at recognizing the decline of traditional methodologies. And in this case, the next casualty of panelist recruitment and engagement will be email delivery.

Technology eclipsing itself is nothing new. Look at the terrestrial radio industry and the constant decline of listeners and advertising revenue to online and satellite streams. Over-the-air broadcast radio still works and millions still use it, but it’s on the decline and the industry is undoubtedly changing forever.

Market researchers may not being dealing with the loss of radio listeners, but they can certainly learn a lesson from their peers in the music business. The writing is on the wall: Over time, email-based sampling and recruitment will diminish in value.

When I started in sampling in 2000, email response rates were high and email marketing was a valuable way to drive web traffic for lead generation and monetization. But today, just like radio, response rates for email continue to decline.

So what’s next?

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Written by lsozio

November 20th, 2012 at 6:05 pm