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....