Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Quality Initiatives of Four Research Associations

SSi's blog has a comprehensive post on the major initiatives to increase data quality of online results, the post summarises the objectives of four initiatives and it outlines the differences between the following initiatives:
  • The ARF
  • ISO 20252

Click here to see the post.

Recruiting and Incentivising using Social Networks

Last week, Ray Poynter's blog had a post on Peanut Labs introducing their cooperation with Facebook. This week, the US based AdvertisingAge Magazine published an online article featuring Peanut Labs in which it addresses the growing relationship between online research and using social networking websites as sample sources. Some companies started to use social network sites like FaceBook as a sample source for recruiting panellists or for real-time sampling: recruiting "on the fly". Virtual Currency to Reduce Professional Respondents Their article of December 17th, "Web Research Could Gain Clout Via Virtual Currency" a new start-up company Peanut Labs is introduced. Peanut Labs is an online market research network backed by the investors of Skype, Yahoo and Delicious. The company recruits members of social-networking sites to take surveys. By paying their respondents in the virtual currencies of their respective sites, Peanut Labs is producing response rates of 29% in the US. According to their CEO Murtaza Hussain, they offer a solution for some of today's issues in the market research industry. Offering cash for incentives has proven a real problem for the industry, helping breed professional respondents and incentives for people to cheat so they can qualify for cash payments, next to this it gets expensive to pay hundreds or thousands of people real money to take each survey. Because virtual currency is considerably cheaper than the real stuff, research firms and marketers can afford to shell it out liberally, even to people who don't make it through a survey's screening questions or just to keep people involved with a panel between surveys. Real-Time sampling and Recruiting via Social Networks Some US research companies now started to recruit on Facebook: Focus Groups, but also some of the bigger MR firms offer a registration process to participate in research. The registration is short and easy to complete and right under the Facebook application page. Next to that, some companies also start using real-time sampling (or "river sampling") through Facebook by asking survey qualifying questions to see if the respondent matches any open surveys. The great advantage of Real-Time sampling is that is enables to recruit site visitors from a network of prescreened websites who are willing to participate in a survey that interests them, but who may not be willing to join an online research panel. These potential respondents are randomly assigned to an open survey based on their responses to screening questions. With social-media audiences skewing towards the young and unmarried the relevance of using these sources to recruit and incentivise may be limited for many projects, yet with the growing popularity of these sites, as well as the industry's battle in search of good online research quality it may turn out to be part of the future of online research.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Add the WOW to online shelf tests: what's possible today?

On December 5th, Merrill Dubrow had a post in which he gave reasons why today's market research business is broken. I described four causes:
  1. Length of questionnaire
  2. Boring, repetitive, poorly written surveys
  3. Declining cooperation rates
  4. Great variation in quality across online sample providers
Many people left a response so Merill's comments are right on the button! Oliver replied that the issues are all intertwined, and quite rightly so! #4 is a consequence of #3, which is a consequence of #1 and #2. So, we need to fix #1 and #2 to fix #3, which will allow us to fix #4. I am currently checking what's out there that will help make the surveys more engaging, and I am specifically looking for today's interactive survey solutions. Here is a first great example from Fuse: Fuse Pack Test Fuse specialises in interactive market research survey solutions globally and they claim that all Fuse stimulus can be embedded into 3rd party surveys. So what other companies are offering great examples of engaging respondents? I am particularly interested in seeing 3D product design tests, package test and Shelf tests. Here is just another example, but if you now any others, just leave a comment! CIAO's (Greenfield Online) Fridge Shelf Test: So anyone who would like to add other examples of great shelf tests? Just leave the name of the company, your reason why you like it the URL to their demo in a comment. I will add to my list below (as long as the demo is openly accessible over the Web) Looking forward to receiving your other impressive examples!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

To blog or not to blog...?

I received comments from my Dutch colleagues why I started this blog and what my aim is. (Guys: feel free to leave a comment on my blog, just like Olivier did (thank you Olivier!) so you don't have to send me an e-mail, share your comments!). So let me explain why I started this blog. Basically, there are three types of blogs: Informative blogs: to share what one knows, what one comes across at work, etc.

Personal blogs: to share who I am, not my knowledge, but my personality drives the blog.

Opinionating blogs: the more informative, news type of blog often lavished with personal opinions.

The advantages of having my blog are obvious: Having a blog is an easy way to share my ideas and knowledge with whomever is interested in them. I also hope to receive quick feed back and new ideas for issues or questions I have. There are some draw backs too: It's rather time consuming, and if you have a blog, it should be a relevant and good one. The entire world can leave comments so I pretty much feel vulnerable with what I leave behind. But to be honest: may main reason for starting this blog is that I think I need to understand what it is all about by experiencing it myself. How will blogging change the way we do market research? What influence will blogging have on our industry, companies and culture? Will blogging present any viable revenue opportunities for businesses? So I am just trying! Or as Anne Frank said: "How wonderful it is that nobody need to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. "

Monday, 10 December 2007

Is the on-line research feasible in Slovenia?

I've received a couple of reactions to my post regarding Eurostat's recent on-line Internet penetration figures in Europe (I actually received two e-mails to be exact). Both reactions came from colleagues from Eastern Europe. Both of you made a similar point about the fact that it's interesting to read about Research 2.0, but your countries still have very low penetration of Internet users (your examples: Bulgaria 19% and Romania 22%) so it seems little relevant as a method. These comments triggered a question: Is on-line research by default impossible whenever the Internet penetration is low? To check to what extent Internet may be a feasible option for on-line data-collection I ask myself three questions regarding the Internet penetration: 1. What is the Internet penetration figure in that Country, and how is it defined? 2. What is the total number of absolute users of the Internet in that country? 3. Out of those, which percentage connects to the Internet using a broadband connection? Let me further address these questions below by taking Slovenia and the Ukraine as an example.

1. Internet penetration figures The Internet penetration in Slovenia is 58% according to Eurostat. No figures are given for the Ukraine, so I use the Internet World Stats page with figures all countries in the world. On the Ukraine they report 12%. Since both Internet usage numbers come from various sources so we need to understand the exact definition before comparing: "ever used the Internet" versus "used in the past two weeks" makes quite a difference. Same counts for Internet penetration on a household level versus an individual level. I normally use the first rule of thumb to check feasibility of the method: whenever the general Internet usage is over 50% of total population in a country, I consider on-line a possible alternative for research on consumer goods and services. So with 58% in Slovenia I'd conclude we should be able to use on-line as a platform, but the Ukraine seems to be a challenge… But there's more to ask: 2. Absolute amount of Internet users Slovenia has a total population of 2.0 million people; the Ukraine has 45.8 million inhabitants. This should put the percentages into perspective: 58% of 2 million gives over 1 million of Internet users while 12% of 45 million makes the total available universe in the Ukraine 5.3 million! If the Internet penetration is lower than 50% in a country, but the total amount of Internet users is around 10 million or more, Internet may still be a valid as an alternative approach

The total universe of Internet users may still give us a viable sample population, but there is even more to consider: 3. Number of broadband connections This figure is important because broadband users tend to interact with the Internet differently than dial-up users. Dial up is all about transactional use of the web (mail, limited file transfer etc), whereas broadband users surf the Web for content, information and entertainment and they are more likely to engage in online commerce and tend to consequently be more Internet savvy. We must remember that we don’t undertake on-line research using the Internet at large, we using panels, and these panels are representative neither of the Internet population as a whole nor the general public.On-line panel members are predominantly broadband internet users because online research requires both frequent access, higher bandwidth and longer periods on-line which are less viable for dial up customers. As a rule of thumb, for online to be relevant for conducting research in your market, there needs to be (overall or geographically specific) a broadband penetration of at least 30%. It's actually 27% in Slovenia and for the Ukraine the figures are not given. So while no strict rules can be given, you now realize that you probably should not be focussing at the internet penetration percentage alone, the absolute amount of users and the number of broadband connections is also entering into the feasibility equation!

After analysing the Internet usage in a country, we will now have to check the availability of a good quality online respondent panel of sufficient size and with a high enough response rate, but these open a whole new set of questions to ask, perhaps more about these questions in a future post!

Drop me a note, or better: leave a comment if you want to ask me more!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

How RFID and Bluetooth may change the way we do market research

On Wednesday 5th of December I gave my yearly lecture to the post-graduate students of the Ghent University specializing in Advanced Marketing Research. (For their events, see the MMA posts). Before the more hands-on section on the do's and don't of online (quantitative) market-research I presented in short what the future of market research may bring us and how it may re-shape the future of how we collect research data. This section turned out to trigger a lot of attention in the class room and since I only managed to scrape the surface I herewith add two slide sets that I used in early 2006 during the GOR conference in Germany. The first part is about Bluetooth and 3G phone applications for Market Research, part two addresses RFID in market research.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Dutch have highest internet usage of EU

I guess we Dutch knew this already of course, but it nice to see it confirmed by Brussels: the Dutch are the #1 online users in terms of internet penetration in Europe as well as in Broadband connections! No country in the European Union has as many connections as the Netherlands. This became clear from figures of European statistic office Eurostat this Monday. In the Netherlands 83% of the households has a connection with the web. The EU average lay on 54 % in the first trimester of 2007. The lowest Internet-penetration is found in Bulgaria (19 %). Holland also stands first in terms of the highest the number of connections with fast Internet, like ADSL and cable: 74%. The EU average is 42%. We also use the Internet the most for telephone services (VOIP) : 25% against 15 of other Europeans. Below a "heat-map" for Europe as I use it at work.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

The Future Of Mobile Surveys?

I came across Pete Comley's recent post on Virtual Survey's Blog. He explains how his recent affair with his latest gadget, his iPhone, envisioned him on how the future of mobile research may look like. This is basically what he claims:

"...There is an amazing amount of hype out there about the iPhone – but unlike most techie hype, most of this is true. This is the phone that will make you leave your existing relationships behind and seek pastures new and you’ll never go back to those complicated menus and unreadable postage stamp screens. I believe it will also shape the way all mobile communications will develop in the future and this, in turn, will have implications for market research. Gone are the days of SMS surveys and trying to download Java applets onto reluctant phones. Gone, also, will be the limitation of people having to do web surveys only on their PC. Instead, people will be able to do fully featured web-like surveys on their phone, on the move, just like I’m typing this document now, on the train..."

Pete is so right about how this may change the way the actual survey interfaces will change!

But if we just think a bit further on how this may impact our industry, let’s just remember that a future version of the iPhone will most definitively be a transmitter for the Global Positioning System (GPS). This will offer researchers the opportunity to exploit the user’s physical location and link this to mobile survey data. This will than offer researchers an opportunity to conduct “point of exposure” data collection centred on event tracking: Track the respondent's proximity to outdoor advertising, allowing effectiveness research, probing for recall, etc. The accuracy and precision will only become much greater in the next few years.

Just look at the picture below: a respondent with a future iPhone (with GPS transmission) is part of a research panel.

He agreed that his data may be tracked by the Research Company. The research firm is doing an outdoor advertising awareness study an the survey will run on the iPhone. As researchers we'll now be able to track the awareness of billboards and combine it with the actual behaviour of the panellists: so in the case below, we can now conclude that despite the fact that the survey data shows that this panellist does not recall having seen the message on the billboard, we do know that he had an opportunity to see it, since he actually passed by the billboard!

So to conclude the future of market research will undoubtedly bring a new reality:
  • in which the “portable Internet” will provide researchers with more timely, comprehensive and accurate recall of consumer experience, and
  • in which the combination of consumer and product data with occasion-based event information will provide a new way of data collection.

Here is Pete Comley's full post...

Friday, 30 November 2007

Research 2.0

Today I browsed on Facebook and ended up joining the Research 2.0 network. The first question on the discussion board was "what is Research 2.0". I gave it some thought and posted my reply: In short the Wikipedia definition of Web 2.0 is
Web 2.0 refers to a perceived second generation of web-based communities and hosted services which aim to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing between users.
It describes Marketing 2.0 as Marketing 2.0 is a natural outgrowth of Web 2.0 as it refers to the transformation of marketing resulting from the network effect of the Internet. It represents a dramatic shift in marketing to account for customers researching and buying goods and services independent of advertising and marketing campaigns and messages. So taking the above into account, (Market) Research 2.0 could be defined as:
(Market) Research 2.0 refers to the second generation of market research where market information is systematically gathered, recorded and analysed making use of web-based communities and hosted services. Research 2.0 aims at engaging respondents with interview techniques that facilitate creativity, collaboration and sharing of information.
Since the term has not been defined in Wikipedia, I took the opportunity and started the Research 2.0 page. To my dissappointment I noticed that they did not want to accept the term because it was seen as unremarkable neologism.
What you say?

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Going Mixed-Mode

For the fourth year the provider of market research software Confirmit has conducted a survey among research companies: "The 2007 Confirmit Annual Market Research Software Survey". According to the report, two-fifths of MR companies offer mixed-mode research as part of their offering: a substantial minority. In revenue terms, this remains a very thin slice of revenues. But the survey detects an upward swing in demand for multimodal data collection capabilities by research software buyers: almost half (49%) now demand ‘parallel’ mixed-mode capabilities. However, demand has remained flat for the more complex real-time switching kinds of multimodal data collection, which is clearly still a highly specialised activity. The reasons for mixed-mode research are many, see the graph below. The top two cited are research quality and methodology reasons – response and sample coverage. Reducing fieldwork costs was third in popularity as a reason, it is in fifth place as a ‘main reason’, overtaken by requirement from the client and being able to offer a more respondent-friendly method. The key findings and report can be downloaded from their site or by clicking here.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

What is

I noticed a comment to my previous post. Thanks for your question! One of the many great things about my job is digging into all that is new and web 2.0. I agree, it’s all great, and it’s extra-great when someone creates something that’s extra-special and I get to use it to make all of our lives easer. So this is to you Anonymous and for all of you who struggle to explain Social Bookmarking to your family and colleagues: Social Bookmarking in Plain English

Monday, 26 November 2007

Why You Should Be Life Hacking

The Internet continues to cause quite some stress for market researchers. We all know it's influencing data-collection, the competitive research landscape, quality of results, and next to the every day tasks, we need to keep up with the latest developments on top! The latest buzz word is Life Haking: should you be doing that? UK tech guru Danny O'Brien coined the term at a 2004 technology conference (the same conference where he also introduced the term "Web 2.0" it refers to the shortcut solutions for routine but time-consuming problems. And that's what we like to do: avoid time consuming problems...! I hear you think "don't I already have enough things on my mind? I don't have time to read the relevant blogs, listen to Podcasts, be in Second Life and still do research for my clients!" But don't worry: Lifehacking is all about making your (online) life easier. It helps you to focus on what things to read and what to skip. So here are two simple things you can start doing today as MR professional? Google Alerts You could start by creating Google Alerts on any of your key-account clients by combining multiple search items. I have a daily alert on "Synovate"+"online market research" to make sure I get all relevant press releases in my inbox. Are you still saving your favorite web pages in your Internet browser? So how do you access your favorite research sites in the week end when you have them on your desktop computer at work? Try open an account at account and start saving your bookmarks online! is a social bookmarking website - the primary use of is to store your bookmarks online, which allows you to access the same bookmarks from any computer and add bookmarks from anywhere, too. On, you can use tags to organise and remember your bookmarks, which is a much more flexible system than folders on your desktop computer! I can add you to my network on and by doing so you'll have access to all my bookmarks too!

Synovate's View of the Future

Synovate has a fun clip on YouTube illustrating their Online service / approach / function. The cartoon left Ray Poynter of the Future Place worried by some of the imagery of what is being offered (see his post). He thinks the use of the robot in the video implies that the future is rather a long way off, and avatars might have seemed more current since he things the robots looked quite old fashioned, perhaps designed by somebody who watched their TV in the 80s or early 90s. What do you think?