Wednesday, 17 December 2008

v2.0 of Market Research 2.0

Another year has gone by and 2009 is around the corner.  
Colin Stein Director of Marketing at ResponseTek made me aware of the fact that whenever you google for "market research 2.0" my post of a year ago still pops-up first.  So he asked quite rightly in a comment: 
...has the Market Research 2.0 discussion not been followed up by further discussion? 
Hasn't it? 
He continues in his comment: 
... The legacy of market research is one of batch-based results, organizational silos of information, and executive analysis with little or no connection to the front-line. Your definition opens up the idea of research to the community, and the use of contemporary tools to enable real-time insight collection and knowledge sharing...
So what has changed over the past 12 months.  Well, Collin does give some insight into the answer:
 ... customer experience management and enterprise feedback management software [...] has forced an acknowledgement of the validity of customer feedback as primary data.  
He's quite right!  And much to my delight he adds a prediction for 2009 
... I suspect large organizations will start to see that there actually is something called Market Research 2.0 to embrace and endorse. 
In my original post of  November 2007  I expressed my disappointment  about how at that time Wikipedia decided that the definition I added to Wikipedia had to be removed since it was an "unremarkable neologism ",  Collin's comment almost made me repost it again, but he ends by asking the question which actually needs no answer: we need Wikipedia's permission first...?
Let me -- in a next post -- digg into what 2009 may bring us.  Until that post, send me a mail or post a comment if you have ideas on what 2009 will bring to the Market Research industry.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Trend for 2009: Mapamania

Yep, it's the end of the year again, time to start thinking of what is ahead. just posted half a dozen of trends for 2009, including what they call MapaMania.   The post explains how they wonder if 2009 will be the year in which all things ‘contextual’, ‘app’, ‘local’, ‘urban’, 'tags', 'lidar', ‘smartphone’, ‘convenience’, 'Cell ID', ‘spontaneity’, ‘infolust’, and ‘GPS’ come together in one orgasmic celebration of map-based tracking, finding, knowing and connecting? 
This brings me back to my previous post on Location Based Survey and on the iPhone and market research.   Will 2009 be the year in which market research will actually start working towards location based surveys?   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.
Embraced by eager consumer masses who will flock to anything from friend-finders to lowest-gas-price-locators? Aided by services that already know which street users are on?
Nokias expect half of their handsets to be GPS enabled by 2010-2012).  MapQuests, Navteqs, and TomToms of this world continue to build the necessary infrastructure, devices and apps, any market research company would be stupid not to be partnering or experimenting with these map-based services. 
Why? Geography is about everything that is (literally) close to consumers, and it's a universally familiar method of organizing, finding and tracking relevant information on objects, events and people. And now that superior geographical information is accessible on-the-go, from in-car navigation to iPhones, the sky is the limit.
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.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Are you fighting the internal Community battle?

Whenever you are working in a market research firm which has proprietary online panels, you may very well be working on an internal project right now trying to mover your online consumer panels to a more Web 2.0 sustainable environment: towards research communities, not plain panels.
You may encounter some internal resistance or perhaps road blocks and you may need a lot of energy and time to convert those who are not as up to speed on Web 2.0 as you are.  Should this apply, but probably also simply for those who are working on a business case on research communities I found a great training.  Today I came across a presentation by Joshua Rosh, VP of O'Reilly's InPractice in which he offers hands-on advice on how to start-up social technologies in your company.  His webcast basically is a field guide to bringing social technologies into any organization. The webcast will explore how to: 
  1. Make the case: how to bring Web 2.0 concepts into your organization (including convincing upper management)
  2. Fail Forward Fast: how to create effective pilot programs without losing your head (or your job)
  3. Spread the gospel: The key ingredients that make a successful Web 2.0 evangelist
Based on direct consulting experience, and with plenty of hands-on examples Joshua needs 40 minutes to share the do's and don'ts for all of you out there who are thinking to introduce social community services to your panels.  It's not focussed on our industry, but I think you'll get the idea and will easily be able to mirror the general best-practices and apply them to your research company.   After the 40 minute presentation, there is a 20 minute Q&A session. 

Friday, 24 October 2008

LinkedIn to Provide B2B Sample

In case you missed the latest Daily Research News on MrWeb, yesterday they posted an article about LinkedIn.
You can find the original here.
It comes down to LinkedIn's initiative to provide a primary research service to help market researchers gain market intelligence from their database of more than 30 million members. By searching on any combination of qualifications, company, industry, title, expertise and keywords, clients will be able to profile industry experts who meet specific criteria.
‘LinkedIn overcomes quality and authenticity issues that other sample providers face,’ said Dan Shapero, Director of Business Services, LinkedIn.
I've seen Shapero asking for ideas on some of the groups onLinkedIn (like the Market Research Professional Group). He started discussions with his question on how LinkedIn can help researchers to be more effective. 'We'd really appreciate any thoughts that you have on using LinkedIn to reach B2B sample to conduct market research , to collaborate with researchers and to share best practices ' He explains.
Well I must say he's giving us the perfect example on how to use that professional social network!

Monday, 6 October 2008

The ResearchClub - Amsterdam

The Research Club is an open social event ( a real-one, not a virtual one !) for anyone involved in the market research industry. A free event to make new contacts, develop business opportunities and keep up to date with the latest industry developments.

With events held in London, Amsterdam and Hamburg, it is a way to meet with like-minded research professionals and an opportunity to create and maintain your own national and international networks - all within an informal setting whilst enjoying some drinks and finger-food.

For the Dutch readers: Amsterdam's next event is on Thursday October 9th in Amsterdam (in Café De Jaren). Anyone working in the Market Research Industry can join -- feel free to bring a colleague! For more information or to see pictures of the April "borrel" in Amsterdam, visit their site. See you there!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Market Research 2.0 -- the companies who do, and who don't...

Yesterday I attended the 4th annual online market research conference "Research 2.0" of the MRS in London. Extremely relevant content was shared, and there was one thing I realised in the plane on may way back home: Some great multinationals like BBC, easyJet, Unilever and Coca-Cola presented their approaches and uses of the tools the new web has to offer. Some great small market research agencies -- I guess niche-players and mainly UK focussed-- shared their relevant and interesting insights. So all in all it was very worth while being there. But where were the big global research agencies...?

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

The changing competitive field of MR

Today my reader explodes with posts on Google's new internet browser: Chrome. It reminds me of a thought I had regarding the changing competitive field of Market Research. Last spring, at the announcement of Google acquiring DoubleClick, I immediately thought of that other company that DoubleClick acquired: TangoZebra. Tangozebra claims to be the leading online advertising solutions provider in the UK and their response unit is in charge of providing online research solutions. Just take a quick look at their gallery, and you'll see what it is they do. But more importantly: you'll see where Google is heading! Now mind you: DoubleClick itself enables Google already with a strong behavioral targeting system to improve advertising efficiency. I wonder:

"Would these type of companies replace (part of) the need for traditional MR...?"

Anyhow, like I already concluded here, the MR industry will not like anything like today, and I gues the point I am trying to make is: Every now and than, organisations like EFAMRO, CASRO, ARF and ESOMAR try to forecast the industry's revenue growth, yet they don't usually include the new companies who are new to the industry. Generally, I see three type of new entrants who we simply loose track off (but shouldn't, clearly) :
  1. MR companies who simply are not a member of industry organisations: e.g. Comscore or Gallup ...
  2. Market Research 2.0 companies, either still independent, (Compete, Communispace...) or already taken over (AC Nielsen's Buzzmetrics, TNS' Cymphony...)
  3. New Niche players (sometimes part of big companies) Experian's Hitwise, Google's TangoZebra, , ComScore's M:Metrics ...

The number new players in the MR field is dramatically increasing. New entrants and substitutes are becoming a major force of change, there are many players are out there… some big and well-known, others smaller.

Our competitive arena is rapidly getting tighter and tougher!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Online Card Sort software

(Yes I am back from the summer break...!)
As always I am very interested in the new (and sometimes free) tools that are made available online that may make our lives easier as researchers. See other posts here, here or here. While some of you researchers may still have a hard time of getting a more basic "drag-'n-drop" feature programmed in your online questionnaire, there now online programs like Optimalsort and WebSort that allow card-sorting online. Create a study, send a link to participants, and analyze the results- all through a web-based interface.
The two companies do not really offer the tool for free -- the guys need to make a living -- yet they do have a "pay-for-use" scheme. Check them out and play a bit if you have a moment...

Friday, 20 June 2008

World of Internet: mapping 1.4 billion internet users

I have prepared a map of the world, showing today's Internet penetration in all countries of the world.
The map below will not only give you an indication of the internet penetration per country, you'll also see:
  • the relative importance of the region on the internet
  • the average internet penetration in the region
  • broad band internet penetration in the top-15 countries
  • share of most important languages used on the internet

Should you wish to receive the original, just drop me line by clicking here and I'll be happy to forward you the high-quality powerpoint slide.

I used various sources, but the main source has been the often used Internet World Stats site.

I hope you'll be able to use it.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Analysing the online Buzz around the US Candidates

Jeremiah Owyang -- Senior Web Strategist at Forrester Research -- posted some interesting graphs that analyse the buzz around the presidential candidates in the US. Using various free social media tools, he recorded some data using tools early June, that look at keywords on twitter, as well as ‘traffic’ to websites of the presidential runners.
"...I rarely place much weight in any single use of these tools, but there is a clear trend towards Obama getting a great deal of activity. Is this telltale to the future? I’m not sure..."
I really like the examples he comes up with and you should definitively visit the original post here. One example I'll give you here below

Now he makes the comment on how one always end up what you pay for (basically his examples are all tools that are free) he and I share at least one thing in common (and I mentioned it also in a previous post here) those researchers who seriously think they'll be in the business of delivering added value to clients must be familiar with these new types of graphing research results and we should all make an effort to seriously think how these tools can be improved so that they'll be of added value to our customers.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

MRS Research 2.0 Conference - London

On Tuesday the 16th of September this year, the MRS will hold the 4th annual online research conference using "Research 2.0" mantra.

This is from their website:

The massive growth in web 2.0-based internet sites has created a new and empowered online consumer. No longer a passive information seeker; consumers are now active participants on the web, creating and publishing content at will. Increasingly, this presents new challenges for market research professionals in a more complex and dynamic research universe with far more data to manage. But change brings opportunity for economic growth as brands increasingly want to use web-based marketing as a source of revenue. And market researchers are responding through the use of different methodologies to find out what works best, where.

As a market research professional, how do you respond to the world of virtual research? How do you get to communicate with your end-audience through multi-digital channels? The 4th annual online research conference is a must-attend. The agenda has been further developed to help you steer your way through the many emerging models and research techniques to continually find the best way to apply them a growing on-line community.

Research Conferences has already run three ‘sell-out’ events on this subject. Attending delegates will gain knowledge of real life case studies and practical, applicable learnings, plus excellent networking opportunities with some of the though leaders from the online research industry. Keep you one step ahead of a fast moving digital game, captivate consumers and delve deeper than before.

Book before 15 August to ensure your place and receive your Early Bird Discout

16 September 2008 Novotel St Pancras, London

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

The Problem with Surveys

Paul Neto tries to keep things simple on his blog. Last Monday, he posted his vision on why today's market research surveys are broken. Visit the original here.

He takes us through a short history of surveys and research methods ever since central location became en vogue in the late 1950s and ends with the introduction of a couple of MR firms who are getting some recognition for doing innovative things today.

He ends his post by saying that ... online research is a sector that has been growing incredibly fast... ...Though, due to lack of innovation there are many concerns in it's direction. Some major firms are even starting to pull away from using online research due to the rise of professional survey takers, poor methodologies, weak panels and questionable sampling techniques.

Nearly 10 years ago, we were all trying to justify online research to clients. Today just about everyone is online because it's the place to be. The next generation of research is not far around the corner. It really only takes a little innovation to lead to big changes...

I do applaud his post and agree with almost everything he says. I recommend you visit the original here. But I wonder: how should we be preparing ourselves as an industry? The answer I believe must be found somewhere in the shift which will undoubtedly happen over the next 12 years: we will move away from measuring "claimed behaviour" (the whats, whens, wheres and how much) toward analysing "real behaviour". The only thing left in the near future that we may still need to ask for is the why. All the other Ws can be measured simply because (research) data will become a commodity now that all new technologies today are based upon the concept of at least having huge databases.

So on one hand we should have more "web 2.0" type of communication with respondents: really engage them by using survey methods which facilitate creativity, collaboration and sharing of experiences and information on one hand. On the other hand we should facilitate those companies owning the databases to make data accessible and transform digits into data into information into knowledge into insights...

Drop me a line, I am interested in hearing your thoughts!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

German ADM regulations go beyond ICC/ESOMAR code

Late April, the final version of the new “ICC/ESOMAR Code" was accepted by the German ADM and the BVM, upon the condition that a set of additional mandatory professional principles and rules must be met when market research is conducted in Germany by local or foreign market research agencies.

According to the German May newsletter of the EFAMRO these are as follows:

1/ The Esomar rule of anonymisation cannot be waived by the respondent.

2/ Because of the mandatory anonymisation, such consent may not actively be sought.

3/ A contact address of the client may only be given to the respondent following an explicit request to do so.It is crucial for the permissibility of this procedure that the respondent expresses the request of his or her own accord, and that this request is unprompted.

4/ The transmission of the collected data in a non-anonymised form is solely permissible between research institutes and is exclusively designated for utilisation as “scientific research”, as formulated in article 5 of the German Constitution. It shall be defined in advance by contractual means, and respondents must provide their informed consent.

5/ Scientific studies in market research shall be differentiated from other activities and may not be combined with non-scientific research activities.

The full text of the declaration concerning the new code (in PDF) can be downloaded here.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Online Market Research—Are You Getting What You are Paying For?

This is particularly to those readers in Cincinnati...:
I have a weekly google-alert on "online market research" and this morning it contained an announcement of the Cincinnati chapter of the American Marketing Association.
Next Wednesday, they have a meeting to discuss the strengths, weaknesses, and challenges of the online research methodology and how to get good results.
Online research has made it quicker and easier to get customer input. But the group questions itself: are we always getting what we want and need?
  • Will today’s consumers who won’t sit through at 30 second commercial stay engaged for a 20-30 minute questionnaire?
  • Will the target customer we need to talk to choose to participate in our survey?
  • If a research request interrupts what you personally are doing, do you stop and participate?
  • Does the incentive just engage consumers or introduce bias? How long will today’s consumer stay engaged in an online study?
  • How do we make sure we are talking to the right people about the right questions to get the right results?

They encourage members and non-members from client companies, research companies, and our local universities to come join us to provide additional perspective to this lively discussion. With both Procter & Gamble and GE in that city, I hope they'll join too.

Should some reader of this blog have an opportunity to go there: let me know what it is all about, I would be very interested in hearing how the meeting was and what the outcomes may be. And I am sure, so are many of the readers of this blog...!

Click here if you have an opportunity to join, it's only 10US$ for non-members!

When: Wednesday,May 28th, 20087:45 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Where: Web Media Tools18. W. 7th Street, 3rd FloorDowntown

Cost: Members - Free! Non-Members - $10

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Takeover rumours... the story continues: Predict the top-5

The market research industry continues to be turbulent. Or at least the internet has various articles on the latest move of WPP (for whatever they're worth: all of them have the same source....) Yesterday John Kivit of Multiscope's blog had an interesting (Dutch) post on the consolidation in the industry. John referrers to the ESOMAR ranking of research firms. So let me start with the question: Can you predict what the top-5 ranking of Market research firms will look like in 2009? Anyhow, back to today: this morning, Reuters reports that WPP tries to put pressure on TNS to engage in talks over a possible offer. "We are surprised and disappointed that the board of TNS has rejected our offer proposal within 24 hours of receipt" Sorrell said in a statement. The Guardian reports this morning that TNS hit back, with a spokesman saying: "It doesn't take long to reject a derisory offer." The Future Well, I guess we all will be facing a completely different industry in one year from now: The 2007 ESOMAR industry report also predicts that consolidation continues. Of the research firms ranked in the top 25 ten years ago, 12 have been acquired by the firms on the 2006 list, and replaced by another 13. So should you want to know, here's the top-10 of 2006 (latest available): 1 Nielsen (USA) 2 IMS Health (USA) 3 TNS (UK) 4 Kantar (UK) 5 GfK (Germany) 6 Ipsos (Germany) 7 Synovate (UK) 8 IRI (USA) 9 Westat (USA) 10 Arbitron (USA) Can you predict what the top-5 will look like in 2009?

Saturday, 3 May 2008

GfK-TNS Group...?

Due to some Dutch bank holidays, I am behind in following some of the blogs lately, and to my surprise, several blogs (e.g. Research Live and the Spanish Netquest or the Dutch Mediaonderzoek) had postings of the proposed merger between GfK and TNS.
And indeed, the TNS website announced discussions between the two MR giants on their website.
They'll be the second largest research agency after Nielsen. We have not yet seen the end of the consolidation in the industry and I wonder what this will mean for companies like Ipsos, Synovate or WPP....

Thursday, 10 April 2008

What's in a (brand) name?

Oral-me? A Malaysian-made toothpaste is raising eyebrows due to its suggestive brand name. "Manufacturers should think twice before naming their products." Kuala Lumpur-based advertising executive Martin Voon asked if the manufacturers understood the product name while coining it.

"I'm shocked. These kind of words are normally found on a spoof, but this is an actual product."

"I'm glad I don't have children as it would be difficult to explain that it is a joke," he said.

Kieran Sharkey, an English teacher at a college in Sabah, said the name did not carry a positive connotation.

"With all the information available to the younger generation, I feel that they can interpret it wrongly."

Pro Dental B Corporation Sdn Bhd executive director Sunny Saw saw nothing wrong with the name as it was connected to oral care.

"The name is just to show that it is an oral product."

MarketTools promises to clean up panels

According to an article on Research Live, the US based MarketTools launched TrueSample, a system designed to ensure better online panels by eliminating fraudulent respondents.

The system follows a three-step process:

  1. Checks of prospective panellists to ensure they are who they claim to be by verifying the information they provide against what MarketTools calls “extensive databases with objectively validated consumer demographics”. Tests have seen as many as 20% of people turned away from the panel at this stage, the company said.
  2. Digital Computer Fingerprint. This fingerprint allows panellists to be cross-checked against other panel members and other panels that have signed up to use the service, stamping out duplicate respondents in studies that utilise multiple panels, and preventing respondents from taking the same survey more than once. Use of TrueSample to date has seen around 3% of respondents fail this test at the outset of each survey, the company said.
  3. Data validation technology should spot fraudulent behaviour by correlating survey completion time and response patterns. Activity flagged as fraudulent includes the usual: speeding, straight-lining and ‘satisficing’, but in addition those found to have engaged in such activity will have their computers’ "digital fingerprints" blacklisted.

TrueSample would be available in the US this quarter and was on track for a release in the Europe during the third quarter. It is already in use on MarketTools’ own ZoomPanel and on panels operated by partners Luth Research and Greenfield Online. The TrueSample launch comes within a month of a similar product release from Peanut Labs, called OptimusID.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Why do some panel sources cost more than others?

I've addressed the issue of panels and panel providers before. But I cannot emphasize enough that you should check and understand what type of online sample you're purchasing for your online survey. Online Access Panels from companies like SSI, GMI, ToLuna, CIAO/Greenfield, but especially also from niche market panel providers vary greatly in quality and this affects price. You should screen the panel sources you use and check them to see if they meet your minimum expectations of panel quality.
  • Non marketing panel – so you avoid education effects from advertising campaigns influencing the results of research
  • Diversely recruited panel – that sourced respondents are derived from a lot of different locations and in different ways to ensure an attitudinal spread in the panel population
  • No excessively high rewards – as this tends to result in panellists that are money/discount sensitive, which in turn can affect their research responses
  • Actively seek to exclude professional respondents – both through their recruiting (not using professional respondent sites) and through active management (screening and deleting straight lining respondents)
  • Well managed to avoid sampling biases – regularly cleaned and scrubbed to remove non active panellists, consistently updated and profiled, panellists are not over-used, sample eliminations are available to avoid education effects from past research participation

As a general rule panels that include a combination of online and offline recruiting are more costly to develop and tend to attract a premium price in the market. This is because they minimise the biases associated with online recruiting alone.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Did you know? Shift happens....

You may have seen the previous version, or perhaps even this one too... I find it quite "inspirational" although some may say that asking the questions is easy, it's all about providing the answers.... take a look. Did you know... ? It's the official update to the original "Shift Happens" video from Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod, this June 2007 update includes new and updated statistics, thought-provoking questions and a fresh design. For more information, or to join the conversation, please visit -- Content by Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod, design and development by XPLANE

Monday, 31 March 2008

Reality Check: what you see isn't what you get...

Several marketing blogs linked to these briliant examples of deceiving today's consumers. If you haven't seen it, check it out!

The original German site Pundo3000 has a comparison of werbung gegen realität based on comparing photos of food packages and the foods inside. They’ve taken 100 (sometimes incredibly odd looking) German food products and given us a direct comparison of their packaging next to what was actually inside.
Of course nobody expects their Microwave menu to be as totally filled with fresh food as is portrayed on the box, but shouldn’t it at least be approximately the same texture?

The video gives you the idea, obviously.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Help my data doesn't align...!

Have you ever been there...? You did everything right: you convinced your client that online data collection is a valid method for the study, he seems ready to move his -- let's say -- offline tracker to an online method. You've prosed a parallel study to identify changes directly resulting from a shift in data collection method and to you will assess these findings when considering a move to online research. And now the data between the offline and online research does not line up. What to do? Here are four steps that will help you and your client...:

1) Understanding the type of difference

The first step in dealing with the different results is to look for the type of differences:

  • Type 1 difference: shift in results but no fundamental change in the overall conclusions and recommendations.
  • Type 2 difference: shift in the results and a fundamental change in the overall conclusions and recommendations (e.g. different concept ranking, significant results in brand awareness between brands, etc). So as a first step we must check if the conclusions and recommendations differ between the offline and online results. Remember it's all about you supporting the client in their business decisions, and if the decision will be the same, the difference in data collection method does not matter, right?

2) Explain the difference

You now have to interpret the differences found: in case of Type 1 differences you should comfort the user of the research that several reasons exist to explain the differences, but they are relatively little and did not influence business decisions. In case of Type 2 differences: we should distinguish between those type 2 results that we can easily "live with": they are not key-indicators and are not hugely important for business decisions, and those type 2 results that really differ and influence business decisions. Once we divided the Type 2 differences into two groups, we can move to the next step:

3) Which data is closer to reality?

For those Type 2 differences that are really key for the project, we must now check which results (the offline or offline results) are closer to reality: which results are actually a better representation of the market? This could be a combination of variables: general ones such as age, gender and education or region, or more specific ones to the category: category use in the P3M. Perhaps you have actual market shares to compare? Perhaps sales figures? Is none of this available, well, together with the client you can evaluate which figures are more likely to be representing reality.

4) Calibration of results

We will now have to decide how we are going to calibrate the results between the two methods. Generally speaking, the approach towards existing data is the following:

  1. before, or during the transition from offline to online data, parallel testing is done to measure discrepancies caused by the change of method.
  2. For a limited amount of time (couple of months, up to one or two years, depending on the old data available) the new online data will be weighted towards the old existing offline data for those variables where the parallel test proved a change in results.
  3. Once enough online data exists, once your client feels comfortable and has gotten used to the different new level of the online data, the above exercise will be done again, this time weighting the offline historic data towards the new online data. This should allow for the historic offline data to be still used in the future.

Drop me a line to let me know if the above is helpfull !

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Please secure my concept!

All of you who are dealing with online concept testing heard the question: "how do you secure my stimulus material in your online survey?". I am sure you've all come up with the appropriate answers to your client. Either you use specific software tools to secure graphic material in online surveys, or you actually designed the tool yourself within your company.

Using JavaScript, it is common practice to ensure that respondents are discourages from copying the images within a survey. The advantages of using such techniques are:
  • Disabling the use of the right click button to prevent the “copy,” “save,” and “print” functions.

  • Restrict the ability to print from the User’s toolbar.

  • Attempting to print a page results in a blank page printing.

  • Security is delivered without requiring any specific view program.

But there simply is no way to completely prevent a respondent from saving images, there are limitations. A savvy internet user may still save the images: The respondent may use “Print Screen” to get a picture of the image. However, when using Print Screen the entire screen is saved, including template headers and footers, forcing the respondent to edit the saved image. The image may also be saved using the “Save As” from the browser toolbar. The tools do not prevent the respondent from viewing the source code which contains the link to the image. However, this function is disabled if the respondent is using an Internet Explorer browser to take the survey due to the use of a secure survey link.

So what to do?

Other non software related measures to secure graphics and video include:

  • Excluding certain cities / zip codes / regions from your sample (perhaps those where competitor employees are living / working). E.g. should you be doing an online Kraft concept test in the US, why not consider to exclude the home-town of P&G

  • Obviously you should always have the "security screening": excluding certain professions (e.g. marketing, press, certain industries related to the product)

  • Excluding certain e-mail accounts (e.g. no panellists that enrolled in the panel using an e-mail address of the a certain company will be invited)

  • Showing graphs and images for only a couple of seconds (to limit the time of actually taking a picture of the screen with a mobile device or photo camera)

I am not in favour of sending out Non-disclosure agreements to panellists prior to any certain research: this will only trigger more attention!

In the end, should you have found the perfect software, it is still possible for malicious respondents to simply take a picture of the screen with their camera or mobile phone!

Fact remains that no 100% guarantee can be given, but remember: this is valid for other field work modes too, right? Any ideas?

Monday, 3 March 2008

Three Essential Panel Quality Checks

In GMI's latest email Newsletter, three essential panel quality checks are given: a handy guide for any user of online panel as a source of market research. In fact, the three checks are probably more comprehensive than using the more complete, yet bulky ESOMAR 25 questions ESOMAR has defined for online research buyers on panel quality. On the other hand, I think that GMI document is covering all the notional basic checks regarding panel / data quality, but I think I'll dedicate a futre post on that topic... Here are their three checks: CHECK 1: PANEL RECRUITMENT AND INCENTIVES
  • Ensure minimum response rates. Your panel provider should require their recruitment partners to provide willing, active panelists who will secure a minimum response rate for your research studies.
  • Pay only for good panelists. Your panel provider should not compensate their recruitment partners for fraudulent panelist registrations. They should have systems in place to track which recruiting partners provide fraudulent panelists, and strictly enforce contractual measures to demand a refund of the recruiting fees paid.
  • Review panelist redemption files. Your panel provider should regularly create and thoroughly review panelist redemption files to detect any suspicious member account activity.
  • Engage panelists with profiling surveys. Your panel provider should regularly revamp each of their profiling surveys, and provide an incentive to their panelists for completing each one. This not only contributes to keeping panel profiling information up-to-date for future research studies, but also helps continuously engage the panel.


  • Enforce panelist login restrictions. Your panel provider should require their panelists to log in using their email address, and create a strong password with a particular type of / minimum set of characters.
  • Prevent panelists from changing personal information during registration. Your panel provider should not allow their panelists to change some of the personal information they provide during the registration process. This will prevent fraudulent panelists from creating accounts in multiple geographic regions with varying demographic attributes.
  • Store and compare account creation and changes. Your panel provider should be in a position to record a snapshot of every account created upon registration, and store that information in a secure database. Subsequent account changes made by panelists to their personal information should prompt another snapshot, so information can be compared between the two steps.
  • Strictly enforce panelist account removal policy. Your panel provider should decrease the rating of panel members who have incurred an infraction, and remove those fraudulent panelists from the panel after a set number of infractions. Block fraudulent panelists without warning. Your panel provider should delete those panelists who act in an egregious manner from the panel, and block them from opening a subsequent account.
  • Remove suspicious email addresses, domains and IPs. Your panel provider should permanently block a panelist suspected to use multiple email addresses, domains or IPs from accessing the panel.
  • Detect speedsters. Your panel provider should have checks in place to filter out responses provided by speedsters – panelists who complete a survey faster than the established minimum time threshold.
  • Keep bots and scripts at bay. Your panel provider should have technology solutions in place to prevent bots, scripts or other programs from creating or editing panelist accounts. This technology should also be used during account registration, account login and before a panelist submits changes to the personal information stored in their account.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Can big companies act small?

During lunch, I came across a post from last week of AttentionMax's blog with the title: can big companies act small? In short, Max concludes that being big has many advantages, but acting small is not one of them. And yet, I happen to work at a research company who prides itself for being "the biggest small company" in the industry. And although not officially our pay-off, it is shared throughout the company and even our CEO uses the buzzline in interviews. Looking at our business, clients tend to fall into different categories.

Some are highly centralized — the global decisions are made in one or two locations. For those companies, they probably want to deal with a supplier who could mirror that. It is possible to deal with someone who doesn’t have a global network but I think there is a level of reassurance in working with a group. Would these be best served by TNS or GfK?

There are other clients who have a decentralized approach but they still might have preferred or recommended suppliers so although it’s not strictly leveraging the global power of a research group, it’s that sort of reassurance again that they’ll be able to do the same kind of job. Probably smaller local research shops would be the first choice for these clients...

The ideal is, a client wants to work with a local boutique where he knows everybody and he has a very strong personal relationship and that boutique somehow magically has global capabilities.

And that last situation in a sense is that what Synovate is trying to create, that level of service and that level of intimacy, not just with client relations but for staff. In fact Synovate is cited in the marketing's guru 2007 edition of "Marketing Management" (by Philip Kotler) as a successful example of branding and building a global business. The fact that Synovate has no global head office is mentioned too:

Synovate's identity doesn't emanate from a central head office but involves and reflects all of our people across the world. Ask any of my colleagues where our headquarters is and the reply will be "we don't have a HQ" ... "We can work in any location"... "We have Centres of Excellence all over the world"...

It's this type of believe that makes us believe that we are the biggest small research company in the world and this will help us build our business. So what do you think, will our strategy eventually work out to service clients best by offering the best of a global company and of the small...?

Drop me a line...

Friday, 1 February 2008

The real professional respondent? Bloggers!

"I believe bloggers and their ideas.
They are my friends and will tell me the truth,
unlike advertisements..."
an anonymous online respondent
We all know that consumers are controlling the online environment. Brands need to think about facilitating user-created actions and the Spanish start-up company Bloguzz may have found a valuable way of facilitating this.
Market research solution for analysing blog content have been around for quite some time now. One of the more known tools is Nielsen's BuzzMetrics. But companies to market their products by using bloggers who test and evaluate their products, that's an entire different ball game.
The Spanish blog of Netquest made me aware of Bloguzz. They link bloggers who enjoy writing about new products and services on their blog with brands who'll give them products and services to test. Even better, the company also ranks the blogs (in terms of popularity) helping their customers to distinguishing the real important blogs. On top, Bloguzz emphasizes that certain code of conduct exist with bloggers interested to guide “the conversation” on blogs. So Bloguzz is actually facilitate what today is already being done by some media agencies and PR companies.
Once companies start "incentivizing" consumers to post biased opinions on their blogs, I guess we could call them the real professional respondents...

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Graphing the impossible: Data Visualisation

Hans Donkers of the Dutch market research company Stratus shared his view on the future of market research at an SPSS Seminar today. It was good to hear how he and I agree on some of the mayor trends today that undoubtedly will reshape the future of our industry. After defining the term Research 2.0, he addressed the five new technologies that may reshape our industry. He distinguished analysing structured data and ways to analyse unstructured data. Obviously the industry needs to find its way to be able to consistently analyse blogs, tags, social networks, and instant messages. In fact, my post below addresses analysis of tags. In another post last year, I addressed our industry's shift away from measuring claimed behaviour to measuring actual behaviour. Today, Donkers was underpinning the fact that more and more data will become available (at notionally no costs). His example of google having 2.7 billion hits a month on average in 2007 was striking. I was pleasantly surprised to see how he than shared current examples visualising the impossible: How to graphically visualise 2.5 million consumer ratings of 9276 music artists? It seems I've been missing the entire trend. Was I too busy preparing ordinary PowerPoint slides to present to my clients? There's a whole world out there that will undoubtedly change the way we'll present our data to clients. I am most impressed by a platform that was introduced a year ago: IBM's Many Eyes. Users can upload any data set, and the tools for visualizing and graphing the data are incredibly richer. The visualisation options include country maps, line, stack, pie, and bar charts, block histograms, bubble diagrams, scatter plots, network diagrams, a lot! Another great example is one by the Stanford University. Together with Yahoo! Research Labs, and MIT. The paper is here. The authors developed a set of interactive visualisation tools and used them on 2.5 million Yahoo! user ratings of 9,276 music artists. The computes layout below shows the grouping of artists and helps for browsing large music collections. How else could we ever conclude that Mel C = Britney Spears = Nick Carter?

Isn't it great to be in Market Research? For now, all of you who are reporting quantitative data to your clients can, and should start exploring these graphic possibilities. From today, consider me a "Many Eyes Junky"....

Monday, 28 January 2008

Tagging as a new online research tool

As you would know by now, this blog is all about new methods to do research. It's about how to get rich data from your consumers in a digital world. Only recently I cae across a pilot presented by Ruigrok Netpanel in late 2007. This Dutch research firm is running an interesting pilot where participants can tag products. According to Ruigrok, tagging is not only a way to organise information, it can also be a powerful tool to get feedback from consumers on products. A first demo of a ‘tagging research tool’ was presented early November 2007 at the Dutch Marketing Information Event. This could be a new way of measuring web-site effectiveness or new product concepts. Online panel research today mostly is a static one-way method of asking questions in a survey that most of the times originated from a face-to-face questionnaire. Web 2.0 is all about sharing of information and one way of doing so is by tagging.

Inspired by 2.0 application Fleck, Ruigrok decided to do a pilot with tagging. When the company conducts tagging research, panellists receive an invitation to make leave digital notes. These notes can have a positive or negative emotion. The idea is simple, participants can tag for example websites by placing colored tags and comment on it. This can be done alone or in a group process, moderated by a researcher.

Using heatmaps ('tagclouds') the tool will show what elements of tested concepts trigger the most attention.

A first pilot showed that the data was comparable with their more traditional quantative and qualitative methods. The new research tool showed that this method could get open response, quick feedback, easy to analyze, visual attractive and fun for the participants. But above all, it seems to be an interesting new tool that is fun to do: an experience itself.

Friday, 25 January 2008

To outsource or not to outsource scripting?

In a recent post on GMI's blog the five main reasons to off-shore of data-collection and processing and even project servicing are mentioned. According to ESOMAR’s 2007 Global Market Research Report, outsourcing has become wide spread among the world’s 25 largest market research firms in the search to stay competitive by lowering costs. The Top 5 reasons mentioned in the article are: 1) more time to spend on insights, 2) Economies of scale, 3) alleviate skill shortage, 4) Save on technology costs and 5) quicker response to customers. I guess the real underlying reason for the industry to outsource is the assumption that the cost savings gained by this practice will simply flow back into the company coffers. And indeed: many companies now use outsource services, especially for questionnaire programming (scripting). But I can think of plenty of reasons why outsourcing of scripting is not the best strategy for our market research industry. Here the most important ones that come to ming: When does outsourcing of questionnaire programming not make sense?
  1. When it involves a lot of non-standardized research projects If your research firm is in the business of ad-hoc customized market research, every survey will be more or less different, which makes outsourcing them risky. Communication with local programmers is difficult enough, won’t it be impossible with a non-native English speaker living half-way around the world in another time-zone? These scripts are best handeled in house by researchers who have first hand knowledge of the research objectives.
  2. When the questionnaire is the core-source of success for your research project If it is critical to the success of your project, outsourcing is probably not the best solution. A lot of back-and-forth between the scripter and researcher will take place and again time zone differences impede the relationship when frequent discussion is needed to communicate requirements and last-minute changes.
  3. When experience is required (know-how) If a manual can replace the briefing to the programming or DP department than send the job abroad. If expertise is needed from the scripter, if scripting is another quality check in the process of getting the best suited online survey programmed, think twice before you decide to do it abroad. How can they perform a task the way I want it done without asking a lot of questions…the questions will drive me nuts? I remember hard it was to convince an Indian programmer that chocolate sprinklers in Holland are used for sandwich filling (nice: with lot's of butter!) and it really did not belong to the Cake / Pastry category!

An additional concer has always been retention of employees at the vendor. And now it's a widespread one: Staff churn is absolutely increasing. At first it looked as if it was just the programmers which college kids. These kids get a few months of experience and move on to greener pastures in their country. But we're seeing it across all staff levels now. It's a big issue.

Once a MR firm starts to outsource, it will take months (if not a couple of years) to realize that outsourcing may not be the best approach for efficient and seamless scripting. By the time the company realized this, the people who had the knowledge of doing it in-home would already have been laid off. And it will cost double the effort to obtain this business critical knowledge back in the company.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

2008 Technologies reshaping Market Research

On January 1st, the BBC News website gives its prediction for 5 technologies that could become big in 2008.
  1. Web-to-go
  2. Ultra mobile PCs
  3. IPTV
  4. Wimax
  5. Mobile VoIP
While browsing through their predictions, I asked myself:

How will these technologies be able to contribute to the Market Research industry?

1. Web-to-go One of the biggest drawbacks of online survey is that most of them can only be used when there is an internet connection. But according to the BBC there are tools that are beginning to blur the online and offline worlds. Three new technologies were introduced in 2007: Google Gears, Adobe's Air and Microsoft's Silverlight.

These applications will influence how we use the Internet: these three applications enable us to use web content offline. For example Adobe has shown off an Ebay desktop application built using Air that would allow users to do much of the legwork required in setting up auctions offline. The next time the user connects to the internet the listing would be posted to the website.

Could the same apply to online surveys?

2. Ultra mobile PCs Various devices have tried to fill the role between a PDA and a full-blown laptop over the years, but none has taken off. But 2008 could be the year when the Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs) finally have their day.

The first devices were launched in 2006, but they have never gone mass market - partly because of a combination of high prices and poor battery life.

But towards the end of 2007 a series of new products started to hit shelves. The Asus EEE may be able to close the gap with its relatively cheap notebook (~300 Euro). It's about the size of a hard-covered book. Apple is supposed to launch an ultra-thin Macbook later this year.

Will these ulta mobile PCs close the gap between "cheap" paper-and-pencil and "expensive" CAPI research?

3. IPTV Internet TV has been hampered in the past and so have questionnaires based on ITV technologies. But with the increasing popularity of IPTV services as Joost (or for Holland Mine tv what will these bring to our industry?

4. WIMAX Wimax is a wireless technology that can deliver high speed broadband over long distances. It is already big in the US with companies such as Sprint and Intel backing the technology. The BBC predicts that Europe is next (they probably refer to UK only, I assume). Not sure what the relevance for our industry may be...

5. Mobile VoIP VoIP is a technology that allows users to make cheap phone calls over the internet. Skipe is probably the best known provider. Although some firms such as Jajah and Truphone have offered VoIP on mobiles the technology is still relatively nascent.

However, 2008 could be the year the technology takes off. Towards the end of 2007, network operator 3 launched a Skype phone that allows users to make calls using the service, already popular for making calls from PCs. Handset-maker Nokia also offers four phones with the ability to use the technology. Mobile VoIP is still at a very early stage but how may this reshape the way we organise CATI telephone interviewing? How may it decrease costs? How will we be able to connect to the increasing population of those who are not having a land-line telephone?

I am sure that in 2008 in the research industry we will have our usual mix of heartbreak and triumph but it makes for an interesting job! I look forward to 2008 and I hope so are you. I wish you all my very best for the New Year!