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Data Privacy Part III:
Will a Leader Step Forward?

By Justin Wheeler, VP Product Innovation & Business Development

In my first two posts in our data privacy series, we learned that Americans are strongly in favor of personal data protection and want an amendment that explicitly makes data privacy a guaranteed right. From a political perspective, this seems like an easy lob for someone to step up and knock right out of the park, or at the very least use to mobilize a national conversation. We polled our respondents to find out if Americans already have someone in mind to lead this charge. So who’s at the top of the ballot? That’s still a big question mark.

No Heroes Here, Only Survivors

Respondents were asked to identify which current political figure “best represents” their own views about appropriate protections for data privacy. As Richard Pryor championed in Brewster’s Millions, we got the answer that few politicians are going to like: “None of the Above” is currently carrying a double-digit lead over any challenger from our list:

Political Figure Who Best Represents My Views on Data Privacy

None of the Above 38%
Barack Obama 17%
Hillary Clinton 14%
Rand Paul 8%
Chris Christie 6%
Other (Write In) 5%
Joe Biden 3%
Marco Rubio 3%
Ted Cruz 3%
John Kerry 2%


It’s worth noting, of course, that Democrats were much more likely to indicate Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton here, and Republicans were more divided among several players. Also of note: Nearly 1/3 of “write-in” votes were for Ron Paul (retired), and there were a few “Edward Snowdens” thrown in for good measure.

The following charts further break down these rankings by the respondent’s political party:

Democrats Republicans Independents
Barack Obama 31% None of the Above 37% None of the Above 43%
None of the Above 30% Rand Paul 15% Barack Obama 13%
Hillary Clinton 27% Chris Christie 13% Rand Paul 12%
Joe Biden 4% Ted Cruz 9% Hillary Clinton 10%
Other 3% Marco Rubio 7% Chris Christie 7%
John Kerry 2% Other 5% Other 7%
Rand Paul 1% Hillary Clinton 3% Marco Rubio 3%





As we head into the 2014 election year, one thing is clear: Protecting data privacy is a key issue among voters, and a strong bi-partisan majority support the cause enough to want to amend the U.S. Constitution. Although Americans still have mixed feelings about who should lead the charge, rest assured change is on the way. In fact, this morning CNN reported that Sen. Rand Paul will file a class-action lawsuit against the NSA for their surveillance programs. Paul is filing the suit with former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli and Matt Kibbe, president of the political group FreedomWorks.

The next couple of years will prove whether Paul or another from this list is up for the challenge. Then again, the 38% “None of the Above” response suggests that the people could be looking for a newcomer to fill that void.

Justin is entering his 15th year in the SaaS space, having helped to build and manage DIY business service and marketing platforms at Overture/Yahoo!, Perfect Market Technologies, and Spot Runner. Since joining uSamp, he has managed the insights platform providing Online and Mobile insights to over 40,000 clients in only 18 months of operation.

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February 12th, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Data Privacy Part II:
The Anatomy of an Amendment

By Justin Wheeler, VP Product Innovation & Business Development

In my first post about our data privacy study, we learned that regardless of political affiliation, an overwhelming percentage of Americans find the government’s data monitoring practices troubling. In fact, Americans are so concerned about the safety of their personal information that they’re ready to support a Constitutional Amendment on data privacy. But it’s easy to get behind such an amendment without having to articulate what that means. We wanted a clearer understanding of what Americans want in an amendment, so we asked respondents to evaluate and rank potential amendment language.

Rewriting History

In order to get specifics on privacy amendment language, we showed respondents several proposals and asked to rate them in terms of appeal. Note: For comparison purposes, we included the 4th Amendment, which protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure and is the closest thing we have to data protection under the law. We found that 84% of respondents thought the language from the 4th amendment appealing, but there was slightly greater support (85%) for a more strongly and clearly worded amendment related to data privacy. This proposal also received the highest number of “extremely appealing” votes. The proposed amendment that received the third most support was excerpted from a November 2013 publication by the United Nations General Assembly about the right to privacy in the digital age.


The results of our privacy language question suggest that voters tend to support strong language that explicitly limits the government’s scope of authority.

When we asked respondents to rank specific statements and choose three that should be included in an amendment, the support for limiting power in government agencies became even clearer. The statement with the second-most votes for the #1 ranking includes language about “prohibiting” the government’s authority to engage in general or blanket data monitoring and gathering:


So there we have it. The amendment is already being written. Congress’ job is practically done. Only one question remains: who will champion this cause? The President made only a passing remark on this issue in his last State of the Union Address, so we still don’t know if data privacy will be made a priority by the current administration. In my next post, we’ll learn which political figures Americans feel most align with their position on data privacy. Have we predicted the next election? Not likely. But we sure have some interesting directional data on our hands. One last thing: Don’t forget to check out our infographic for more results from our data privacy survey.

Justin is entering his 15th year in the SaaS space, having helped to build and manage DIY business service and marketing platforms at Overture/Yahoo!, Perfect Market Technologies, and Spot Runner. Since joining uSamp, he has managed the insights platform providing Online and Mobile insights to over 40,000 clients in only 18 months of operation.

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February 7th, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Data Privacy:
The Great Bi-Partisan Issue

The news of NSA monitoring and data collection activities sparked heated, ongoing discussion across the U.S. and much of the world about whether our data and personal information should be protected by law. We decided to find out just how high this issue ranks among Americans’ top concerns. The infographic below tells the story of what we learned. For more background on the data privacy study, click here.

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February 5th, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Data Privacy Part I:
Republicans, Democrats Seeing Eye to Eye on Data Privacy

By Justin Wheeler, VP Product Innovation & Business Development

Ever since Edward Snowden shed light on NSA spying and data collection practices last year, the entire country and much of the world has been in a frenzy over data privacy. The so-called “Snowden Effect” is creating serious repercussions for American businesses, too, as many countries fear that partnering with a U.S. tech company could open the door to more spying.

Because our industry traffics in data to produce business insights, we should take note of the public outcry over data privacy, as it could ultimately catalyze legislative action that has lasting effects on the way we collect and share information. That’s why we decided to ask Americans directly how they feel about this issue. The results of our survey, much like the leaks themselves, were eye-opening.

Many of the political surveys we field paint a picture of a citizenry divided. But according to our latest research, data privacy is one issue that people from all political persuasions can get behind. The message is unequivocal: Liberals or Conservatives, Libertarians or Green-Party, want their data and information protected. Our survey also revealed that concern over data privacy will impact voting in 2014 and beyond, and that Americans are prepared to amend the U.S. Constitution to ensure their rights are protected.

To execute this study, we surveyed 1035 voters from across the political and demographic spectrum. Here’s what we learned about how data privacy plays into their lives:

  • 82% are familiar with recent news stories about the NSA and U.S. government gathering data from phones, websites, and social networks; only 5% are not familiar with this news.
  • 92% cite data privacy as a concern, with 48% indicated it is a major concern.
  • 63% say data privacy concerns will influence how they vote in upcoming elections.

A Proposal: To Amend, or Not to Amend

One way to measure whether or not people’s stated passion for a topic carries real-world impact is to propose an action and measure support for it. In this case, we proposed a new amendment to the Constitution to protect data privacy.

Before we get into the results, here’s a little context: There hasn’t been a meaningful amendment to the U.S. Constitution since 1971, when the voting age was set at 18. Since then, amendments have been proposed for many issues, including same-sex marriage, drug use, balanced budget, school prayer, flag burning, but none of them have ended up with the strong bi-partisan support necessary to make it out of Congress.

Based on our survey results, this issue has the potential to break that pattern, as respondents overwhelmingly support the idea of an amendment to protect data privacy. Here’s what we discovered:

  • 81% of respondents support the idea of an amendment to protect data privacy
  • 45% would “absolutely support” such an amendment, while only 2% were “absolutely opposed” to the idea
  • This level of support was consistent for Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, as indicated in the chart below:

Support for Proposed Data Privacy

Amendment, By Political Party




More Than Newspapers—and Guns!

Such strong support across the political spectrum for a key issue, particularly when considering an important step like amending the U.S. Constitution, is interesting itself, but we decided to go deeper into the topic by asking comparative questions. When asked how protecting data privacy, a hypothetical constitutional right, stacked up against other rights, and the responses were surprising.

Our proposed Right to Privacy ranked only slightly behind some of our most sacred beliefs, Freedom of Speech and Religion, while it finished ahead of Freedom of the Press, Self-Incrimination, and well ahead of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Additionally, the study confirmed that some of the above issues are strongly partisan, while Right to Privacy seemed to transcend the political divide:

  • While 68% of respondents indicate the Right to Keep & Bear Arms as an important right, Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to rate it “Very Important” (65% of Republicans compared to only 37% of Democrats). That discrepancy isn’t true of Right to Privacy, which enjoys strong support regardless of political ideology.
  • Even among Republican voters, the Right to Privacy was scored as more important than the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, even if by a slim margin: 89% said the Right to Privacy was a 4 or 5 on our scale, where Right to Keep and Bear Arms scored an 85%.


Rating: Importance of Key Constitutional Rights
1- Not Important 2 3 4 5- Very Important
Freedom of Speech 0% 0% 3% 14% 82%
Freedom of Religion 2% 1% 6% 14% 78%
(Proposed) Right to Data Privacy 1% 1% 8% 22% 68%
Freedom of the Press 1% 2% 12% 24% 61%
Right Against Self-Incrimination 2% 2% 12% 23% 61%
Right to Keep & Bear Arms 9% 6% 16% 18% 50%


The people have spoken loud and clear: Data privacy should be a protected right. And while we may only be scratching the surface on what could become one of the defining issues of this century, the survey results raise an important question: What would an amendment on data privacy look like? Check back for parts two and three of this series, in which we reveal the survey’s qualitative data and let Americans write a new amendment. Plus, don’t miss our full-blown infographic based on the data privacy survey results.

Justin is entering his 15th year in the SaaS space, having helped to build and manage DIY business service and marketing platforms at Overture/Yahoo!, Perfect Market Technologies, and Spot Runner. Since joining uSamp, he has managed the insights platform providing Online and Mobile insights to over 40,000 clients in only 18 months of operation.

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February 5th, 2014 at 12:07 am

GRIT Review: Are We Pioneers?
Market Research’s Foot-in-the-Past Problem

The industry’s final word on all things market research is here at last! The winter 2014 GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Report released this week, and it’s chock-full of fascinating insights, trends, and discussions about where the industry is headed. Our very own Robert Clancy, VP of Insights and Strategy, adds his commentary on the slow adoption of mobile in the industry and what might be holding researchers back. See below for more.

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Brand Dependence Index:
The Next Measure of Brand Health

By Ian Riner, Director of Research Solutions

We’re all familiar with the word “brand,” but exactly what it means can vary wildly from person to person. We may think of the iconic Nike Swoosh, the initials printed across a designer handbag, or a notorious reality TV star. Brands exist on many levels, and we encounter them everywhere in our daily lives. Think about your mobile phone for example: It might feature several brands: the brand of the manufacturer (think Apple), the brand of the product line (think iPhone), and perhaps even the brand of your favorite animated character emblazoned across its case (think Hello Kitty). Whether we are conscious of it or not, all of these brands carry deep meaning for us and announce something to others about who we are.

In December 2013, uSamp partnered with UTA to design a groundbreaking methodology that provides us with a unique metric for measuring our attachment to brands. The first-ever Brand Dependence Index, focusing on the consumer electronics vertical, was debuted by Larry Vincent of UTA Brand Studio this month at CES in Las Vegas.  We fielded the study, providing the audience and technology required to collect dozens of individual metrics about 20+ brands from thousands of consumers and fed this data into the index in real-time. As a result, we were able to complete this study in a matter of days!

Brand Dependence Methodology

The Index is designed to provide us with a better metric for understanding the strength and impact of a brand in the eyes of a consumer. It relies heavily on the notion of attachment, that is, how individuals view themselves in relation to brands. Also taking into account other existing brand metrics such as awareness and likeability, Brand Dependence has shown to be a significantly more reliable indicator of future purchase behavior. The overall score reported by this index helps us as researchers understand how brands occupy their place in our lives, the way we feel about them, and how this translates to the all-important purchase.

The Findings

The study produced several surprising results, not least of which was Microsoft scoring highest for overall dependence. You may feel little attachment to Microsoft, and have a stronger bond with Apple, but consider this: Your first computer likely ran DOS or Windows, and the vast majority of desktops today still run a Microsoft operating system. This is partly why Microsoft scores high in “Impact” among consumers; people everywhere depend heavily on Microsoft’s technology and products.

Apple’s attachment score, on the other hand, varied significantly across key demographics. We found that lower income and less educated consumers feel far less attached to Apple than those with greater means and education. Directly comparing Apple to Microsoft, we found that Apple did test higher for “Intensity”; however, Apple also scored higher for brand aversion than Microsoft did, which created more drag on Apple’s overall score after we crunched the data.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The Brand Dependence Index helps us look at the relationship between people and brands in a new and exciting way. The insights gleaned from this research can help those who manage all types of brands develop more meaningful relationships with their audiences. And when coupled with a panel with sufficient breadth, depth, and access, the possibilities for future research are virtually endless. Countries, social media sites, political parties—all have their own brands and can use these insights to evaluate and optimize their position. Fascinating iterations are on the way, so stay tuned.

Ian Riner studied microbial biology at UCB and after college was introduced to the research field by way of a political polling call center. During Ian’s 5 years at uSamp he has provided expertise to market researchers, marketers, advertisers, small/medium businesses, and academia alike for online- and mobile-based studies.

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Creating Your Questionnaire:
Backwards Is the Best Way Forward

By Scott Worthge, VP, Research Solutions

In the course of my long career in the market research industry, I’ve seen a lot of questionnaires. They can range widely from the sublime and elegant to the just hideous and illogical. Some flow effortlessly, while others stumble along blindly. The major difference between questionnaires that work and ones that fail comes down to approach. To design a clear and effective questionnaire, you must begin at the end—not with the questions, but with the answers.

The better all of us are at crafting our instruments for the effective collection of data, the greater the value we bring to the various stakeholders who count on market research to inform their business decisions. I’d like to offer my own humble perspective, vastly summarized and shortened, to consider when designing your next questionnaire. My process may not be a pure science, but I’ve seen it work “better,” time and again, for my clients. Here are my three steps to questionnaire design:

1. Know your goals and objectives for creating the survey.

Sounds simple enough, but this first step is often overlooked, too easily assumed, or given short shrift, and it may well be the most important. Ask yourself some questions: What is the critical research that the questionnaire should yield? What kinds of decision will be made from the results delivered? If you can answer these questions, proceed to the next step. If it’s still a little hazy, stay here until all heads concerned are nodding in the same direction at the same time.

2. Create a priority list of the information you need and the learnings you hope to gain.

This list should include categories like pricing vs. competitive info vs. market trends, etc., and should be agreed upon by the client when defining the scope of the project. Good? Now proceed next to the measurements needed, not the questions. Nope, no questions at all—yet.

3. Look hard at the measurements that will lead to your results, not the questions.

This may seem backwards, but the first step to building a survey is to identify what data will result for each learning within each group—i.e., what’s needed, not just wanted. The measurements should be some combination of state of being (demographics typically), state of doing (previous/current actions and experiences), state of mind (perceptions, emotions, etc.), and state of intention (“likelihood to,” which can be quite tricky). Remember to stay focused on what you will actually do with the data and what difference your answers will make to your client.

Here’s an instructive example: Consider a question as simple as “What’s your favorite color?”

Are you immediately thinking of a list of colors and choosing your favorite? What you should be thinking of instead is this: What is the importance of respondents picking a color? What does color mean to the client and how is this information being used in the bigger picture?

What if your client is considering changing a brand-identifying packaging color, and you need to know strength of preference for different colors? You will need a scale of relative preference strength for each choice (at least), and different analytics entirely. The question itself would stay the same. But the data, the analysis of that data, and the story you tell about those results and insights would be completely different. So, same question, but very different measurements and results.

If you get this down, you have the foundation for your survey, and you can build from there. Remember, the measurements are what you build your survey on, not the questions.


[Stay tuned for Part Two of “Creating Your Questionnaire,” in which I cover how to structure questions for improved flow and data quality.]


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January 22nd, 2014 at 11:47 pm

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

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?


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.

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2014 Year-in-Preview:
Lisa Wilding-Brown’s Predictions for Research Magazine

In this interview with Research Magazine, Lisa Wilding-Brown makes her predictions for what’s to come in 2014 for market research.
Looking Forward

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

Always remember the consumer when designing research studies—and drink less coffee.

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

Rich media will be supremely important in 2014. Companies have already begun asking for photo and video submissions from customers, but we’re still far from understanding how best to utilize this type of media to gain insights. Pairing rich media with a mobile survey provides a structured environment through which we might better analyze this information.

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

Privacy. With great power comes great responsibility – especially when it comes to consumer data. When respondents complete surveys they invite us into their personal space, and marketing professionals and companies should respect that space. In 2013 data collection and sharing became a hotly contested issue, so as mobile market research expands, we need to be sensitive to privacy rights by maintaining transparency and handling information sensitively and responsibly.

What will success look like in 2014?

Pushing ourselves to continue leveraging technology for innovation, and to be nimble and responsive to industry needs. Success for uSamp means moving the industry forward in a way that benefits both companies and their consumers.

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2013 Year-in-Review:
Lisa Wilding-Brown’s Reflections for Research Magazine

In this interview with Research Magazine, Lisa Wilding-Brown shares her thoughts on the events that shaped the market research industry, marketing, and technology in 2013.

Looking Back

What has been the biggest development of 2013?

Mobile market research has profoundly impacted the industry in 2013 because it has added a contextual element that other research methodologies lack. Real-time interaction with the consumer at the point of purchase or consumption yields rich findings that might not be possible to ascertain from a consumer who is removed by time and space. What’s more, mobile is much less invasive and more time- and cost-efficient than traditional strategies.

What was 2013’s biggest buzzword?

Geofencing. Although still in its infancy, a technology like geofencing  is critical to implementing effective mobile campaigns. Using smartphone geolocation, we can identify consumers entering or exiting specific vendors and then send highly targeted studies that get us closer to that moment of truth at the shelf, aisle, or restaurant.

What was, in your opinion, the best campaign (ad/brand/political/social) of 2013, and why?

The recent media blitz for the new Anchorman 2 movie has been impressive. Will Ferrell’s character Ron Burgundy has been showing up in all kinds of real-life situations and spawning dozens of viral videos. He even co-anchored the nightly news at a local station in North Dakota. I love to see creative media campaigns like this one; it’s fun when fiction seeps into reality and we can see our favorite characters come to life.

What has been the year’s biggest success story?

Netflix’s dive into original content was one of this year’s greatest successes, proving that listening to the consumer is one of the most effective strategies for developing an excellent product. Their ability to cull data and preferences from their large subscriber base to find a winning combination in producer David Fincher and actor Kevin Spacey is a great reminder for all of us that the consumer still knows best.

What has been the year’s biggest disappointment/anti-climax, and why?

The launch of the website was so highly anticipated but will likely be remembered as one of the most bungled product launches of the past few years. The implementation of the marketplace was executed poorly, and consumers were left out in the cold. We actually surveyed our panel to better understand the user experience and learned that 4 out of 5 people encountered technical difficulties ranging from error messages to not being able to create an account.

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