Pre-MRMW North America 12 Interview: Thaddeus Fulford-Jones

Friday, June 29, 2012


As part of the pre-MRMW North America 12 interview series, I got to talk with Thaddeus Fulford-Jones of Locately.  Location analytics is a theme that he will be covering in-depth, and like many of our previous interviewees, he cautions, “It can't just be used ‘simply because it's there,’” but instead that mobile research requires intention and appropriate application.  Here’s a sneak peek of what he’ll be talking about in July.

RM: What are you most excited to share about with us at MRMW and why?  What difference could it make for your audience if they were to implement what you’ll be talking about?

TF-J: I'm excited to share new perspectives on how some of the world's biggest CPG manufacturers and retailers are using location analytics to better understand how people shop. Location analytics uses huge volumes of GPS data from opted-in smartphones to understand actual shopper journeys and to send location-triggered in-context mobile surveys to shoppers while they're actually in the store. The impact for CPG manufacturers and retailers is huge - an unprecedented opportunity to capture real-time understanding of not only "what people think" but also "what they do and why".

RM: What do you expect from the emerging market research in the mobile world industry?  What must be offered?  What must be fulfilled?

TF-J: Mobile research has enormous potential as it allows researchers to engage with consumers while they're in the aisles, making their decisions. Mobile allows us to do this in a very, natural, unobtrusive manner. However, as with any new technology, mobile must be employed as part of a comprehensive and unified research strategy that's driven by business needs. It can't just be used "simply because it's there." I look forward to seeing more examples of research organizations using mobile to address real business challenges and deliver quantifiable ROI.

RM: Thanks, Thaddeus.  I look forward to hearing more in a couple weeks.

Pre-MRMW North America 12 Interview: Pala Kuppusamy

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


As part of the pre-MRMW North America 12 series, I got to talk with Pala Kuppusamy of Research Now Mobile (formerly iPinion).  Pala drives home the benefit of being in-the-moment with mobile.  Here’s our conversation.
RM: What are you most excited to share about with us at MRMW and why?  What difference could it make for your audience if they were to implement what you’ll be talking about?
PK: Its all about harnessing the power of mobile for smarter research and insights. Location awareness, for instance, is extremely valuable information that can be used for high quality research and insights. I believe we have a high level of maturity in capturing and using this information elegantly for research purposes in variety of ways. The audience from Retail, Consumer Goods, Automobile, Healthcare, MR firms can implement this for triggering location based surveys in real-time, target people based on past movements and patterns, trigger surveys at specific venues, and more. The location awareness, combined with rich media upload capabilities and barcode/qr code scanning makes it a perfect tool for shopper insights, ethnography and diary studies.

RM: What do you think that the current market research world is afraid of when it comes to innovating on research in the mobile world?  What enabled you to get over the fears and innovate?  What motivated you?

PK: One major hesitation we observed from the Market Research world in adopting mobile research was the immediate comparison to online surveys and the worry about missing some sophistication that they were used to, in online (PC) world. There used to be some reservations about representativeness, response rates but as more and more data points are being published in favor of mobile, these questions have subdued. At times, the operational issues (additional work involved) with adding mobile research as a channel had also deterred some research firms in adopting mobile research.

What really got us over these challenges was our firm belief that things are changing rapidly with the smartphone revolution. Although some businesses were hesitant to change or embrace mobile, we saw consumers embracing mobile with hands wide open. This is the only technology in the history to see such a rapid adoption. It’s revolutionary. We knew that the businesses HAVE to change / adopt their approach sooner than later as all consumers are going in this direction. You should go fishing where the fish are, not where you are comfortable. 

The real big motivating factor for us was the traction and adoption we saw from the enterprise clients. They were our early adopters. We saw large consumer goods companies, healthcare, retail firms using mobile research tools at infancy. Soon, many of the large MR firms were quick to adopt mobile for research purposes. The interest from these large MR firms as early adopters was another big motivator for us. We know that they would be the ones who will drive volume.

RM: This is definitely my favorite quote: “You should go fishing where the fish are, not where you are comfortable.”  It’s true, mobile gets us so much closer to the fish.  Thanks for your time, Pala.

Pre-MRMW North America 12 Interview: Dr. Steve Needel

Monday, June 25, 2012


Interview eleven in the pre-MRMW North America 12 interview series carries on a similar theme of caution when jumping into new tech solutions.  Dr. Steve Needel of Advanced Simulations reminds us of our role and purpose as market researchers, helping to provide hope and perspective for the future.  Here’s the interview.

RM: What are you most excited to share about with us at MRMW and why?  What difference could it make for your audience if they were to implement what you’ll be talking about?

SN: I’m hoping to get the audience thinking a bit more about what they’re doing when it comes to research, rather than looking at everything that is new and different as “better”. I’ll talk about the weaknesses of tools like eye-tracking, neuromarketing, and facial imaging – not that they shouldn’t be used, but that they need to be used properly, in the proper context. If the audience implements some of my thoughts, they should end up doing better research for their clients.

RM: It can be easy to bemoan the state of market research today.  Instead of us talking about what you’re against in the traditional MR space, I’d love to hear about what you’re for – what you stand for – in the MRMW space.  What makes this something you’re willing to stand up for?

SN: I’m at the opposite end of this continuum – I don’t think that we, as an industry, are in trouble. I just think we’ve lost sight of what it is we’re supposed to do. We are not the executives in charge, nor are we the marketers who must live with the decisions they make. We are the researchers – our job is to give them the best information possible, given time, budget, and knowledge constraints. Sometimes that means we are identifying opportunities, sometimes we are reporting on the state of the market, sometimes we are testing marketing ideas. Complaining that we don’t have a seat at the table is both unproductive and often untrue. Those of us who are helping clients make more money or avoid wasting money or getting more out of the money they have are getting that seat at the table. I stand up for doing good research that helps the decision-making process.

RM: I think that your belief that we, as an industry, are not in trouble will be an encouragement to many folks.  How do you utilize new technology to secure your seat at the table in this era of market research in the mobile world?

SN: It depends on how you want define new tech. I do virtual reality shopping (and was one of the originators some 19 years ago). I don't think of it as new - but some people do. More important, I believe in using the "right tool for the right job" (Mr. Natural - sometime in the 1960s). When mobile research can give us a better answer than an existing tool (better meaning closer to reality), then it's the right tool. When your question is "what are people looking at when they look at my website?", eye-tracking is the perfect tool. When your question is what do people look at when I show them a virtual shelf set, it's pretty useless. So I keep my seat at the table by being an expert at what I do and giving clients great advice when VR is not appropriate.

RM: Thanks, Steve!  See you in July.

Pre-MRMW North America 12 Interview: Kevin Lonnie

Friday, June 22, 2012


Interview ten of the pre-MRMW interview series was with Kevin Lonnie of KL Communications.  Kevin is an advocate for good market research, focused on results, and not the tool itself, which serves as a great reminder not to get carried away by all the tech options out there, but to keep an eye on the end product.
RM: What are you most excited to share about with us at MRMW and why?  What difference could it make for your audience if they were to implement what you’ll be talking about?
KL: We’re very excited to share a recent case study example of CrowdWeaving with our client Sony Electronics.    We presented a specific challenge to select members of our Sony Frontline Panel and asked them to help create this new product concept by working right alongside Sony.

We believe that integrating the voice of the customer into the product ideation process is an art.  This is not straight out outsourcing, which is why we call it CrowdWeaving and not Crowdsourcing.  We feel this case study will provide attendees with inspiration into how they can implement similar processes, so that the wisdom of crowds can be integrated into their product development process.

RM: It can be easy to bemoan the state of market research today.  Instead of us talking about what you’re against in the traditional MR space, I’d love to hear about what you’re for – what you stand for – in the MRMW space.  What makes this something you’re willing to stand up for?

KL: Good MR has never been about the technology.  Tools come and go.  Of course, we need to perform our due diligence and tap into new technology as long as it meets our needs of providing impactful insights in a more efficient way.   There’s a line from a Duke Ellington/Ella Fitzgerald song, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”  To apply that same line to our world, I would say that “It” represents new MR tools and “swing” represents good insightful research.  In that sense, the song lyric is timeless.  MR tools quickly become passé but the end game of solid insights that impacts a company’s bottom line; that never changes.


RM: What do you think that the current market research world is afraid of when it comes to innovating on research in the mobile world?  What enabled you to get over the fears and innovate?  What motivated you?

KL: I have underestimated inertia.  Why else would 97% of all qualitative research still be performed in brick and mortar facilities?  The premise of sending respondents to non descript office buildings to sit for two hours in front of a one way mirror is ridiculously old school. 

I have often asked myself, what’s keeping this propped up?  Have I simply underestimated the appeal of M&M peanuts or take out menu options?  All kidding aside, with all the advancements in smart phone technology and GPS tracking, why are we relying on technology that belongs to the Eisenhower Administration?  When appropriate change doesn’t happen, you have to attribute that to the efforts of the status quo.  That’s why I feel conventional qual is being propped up by moderators and facility owners who have no interest in tipping the apple cart.   However, when the tipping point does emerge, I hope for their sake that the facility owners have back up plans for all that real estate.

As for my own personal fears in trying something different, I’ve always been a malcontent, so I take to change like a duck to water.

RM: Thanks for your time, Kevin!  See you in July.

Pre-MRMW North America 12 Interview: Leslie Townsend

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


As interview nine in the pre-MRMW North America 12 series, I got to talk with Leslie Townsend of Kinesis.  Her immersion within the social sphere directly inspired “Voice of the User” builds for Kinesis.  Going beyond just making surveys mobile-friendly, she believes in end-to-end transformation of the research process.  Here’s more from Leslie.
RM: What are you most excited to share about with us at MRMW and why?  What difference could it make for your audience if they were to implement what you’ll be talking about?
LT: Mobile (especially given what is going on with social media) is about the very very rapid transformation of our entire industry.   The content focus at most conferences has primarily been upon surveys and making them "mobile-friendly", but this process alone will not accomplish much.  All of our end-to-end practices as an industry must be transformed -- from research designs, respondent authentication processes, how we manage our panels and communities, how we deliver incentives and what types of incentives we fulfill, and how we invite respondents and route traffic.  None of the standard industry benchmarks will apply anymore.  This is literally our time to redefine our industry.  There is a great deal of talk in our industry of its demise.  In fact, we have been given a golden opportunity, because end clients should require a great deal of guidance at this point in time.

RM: What engages your imagination in the market research in the mobile world space?  Who or what inspires you?  Why? 

LT: I look primarily to younger generations.  I like to observe how they communicate, the language that they use to express themselves, the manner in which they shop, and their values.  With far more media vying for their attention with each generation, how and where they choose to focus their communication and how that information should be interpreted is vital to us as an industry.

RM: Do you have an example of how you were inspired by younger generations in something on the business, and the implications of that inspiration, by any chance?

LT: One of our employees had saved up a substantial amount of vacation time and decided to take a month-long vacation.  JetBlue was offering a "fly all you can" special at a flat rate that included any destination in the world.  He used social media site meetup.org to hook up with other fellow travelers who had gotten the same deal.  Together, they crowdsourced their vacation plans, met up in various locations ranging from Las Vegas to Costa Rica, staying at the same hotels and generally hanging out together.  JetBlue got wind of their activity and began promoting the group and gave them additional gifts.  The group has since had "reunions" -- resulting in more destination vacations.  Basically the entire vacation was organized via social media, it took on a social interaction component that would not have existed in the past, and much of it happened  "on the fly" using smartphones --  and some long-lasting friendships have evolved from that.  Plus swag the group wouldn't have received otherwise.  And I'm guessing JetBlue liked the publicity as well ..

RM: Did that impact or have a translation to anything you do on the business at Kinesis?

LT: We did add a "Voice of the User" feature to our software thereafter.  Clients can suggest new features or modifications to existing ones.  All comments/feedback are visible, and other clients can add to the requests, vote on them, or indicate that they do not like the idea.  Those ideas with the most number of votes are progressed to the top of development queue.

Pre-MRMW 12 Interview: Elias Veris & Filip De Boeck

Friday, June 15, 2012


Interview eight of the pre-MRMW interview series was with Elias Veris and Filip De Boeck of InSites Consulting.  Getting consumers into the boardroom, marrying MROCs and mobile and bringing market research higher up the organizational ladder are some of the themes that Elias and Filip touch on here.  Filip will be with us in July and I look forward to hearing more.

RM: What are you most excited to share about with us at MRMW and why?  What difference could it make for your audience if they were to implement what you’ll be talking about?

EV & FD: How MROC’s and Mobile are “friends with benefits” is what we are excited about.  Friends with benefits means that MROCs and Mobile are extremely complementary, but do not replace each other. We’ll argue that it’s virtually impossible to conduct a mobile-only MROC or an MROC that doesn’t include a mobile extension. Well, it is technically possible of course, but it comes with a whole bunch of trade-offs.
If the audience would implement mobile in their MROC’s they’d see several different things:
a.       More engagement from the community participants: people are constantly in touch
b.      More personal data from participants; a closer connection to them because the MROC is with them all the time
c.       More contextual data; more ‘heat – of – the – moment input’, which is closer to the real consumption/purchase moment than we’ve ever been
d.      More visual/audiovisual data, which helps us truly bring the consumer to life for our clients
e.      In conclusion: more & richer data, leading to better market research overall.

RM: It can be easy to bemoan the state of market research today.  Instead of us talking about what you’re against in the traditional MR space, I’d love to hear about what you’re for – what you stand for – in the MRMW space.  What makes this something you’re willing to stand up for?

EV & FD: We’re all for bringing consumers in the boardroom and creating impact at the client side. As our CEO put it in the recent CEO series at the greenbook blog: “To us, the future of research lies in bringing consumers in the boardroom of companies, narrowing the gap between employees and consumers, and enabling ‘ordinary’ consumers to create extraordinary value for companies. It serves the needs of clients and participants altogether. But more importantly, it puts marketing research higher up the organizational ladder.” 
And that is basically where our interest in mobile stems from; the mobile toolbox helps us to get closer to consumers, to bring them to life and to really connect with them on an ongoing basis, but on their terms. Through mobile, we can empower them to share whatever they think is relevant for our clients or for us researchers, with us. They are not restricted by one platform, or even one place or time, and they can give their input to us in almost any form they choose. Exactly this diversity and richness of data helps us to truly connect our customers with their consumers, with extraordinary value for both parties as a result.
So in conclusion: we believe in bringing consumers in the boardroom, and mobile is a great tool for doing so. That is exactly why we feel we need to stand up for mobile within market research.

Pre-MRMW 12 Interview: Matt Dusig

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


As interview seven of the pre-MRMW interview series, I got to talk with Matt Dusig, who outlines why technology, transparency and agility are key for the future of market research and gives a sneak peek into what he’ll be talking about in July.

RM: What are you most excited to share about with us at MRMW and why?  What difference could it make for your audience if they were to implement what you’ll be talking about?

MD: With smartphone adoption at an all-time high (83,000,000 in the United States), everyone in Market Research has mobile on the tip of their tongue: Mobile surveys, mobile panelists, SMS, push notifications, geo-location, geo-fencing and app installs are just some of the features being discussed. There is vast potential-especially in regards to the validation that mobile offers that desktop simply can’t.

But what does this all mean? What does it take to successfully execute a mobile strategy today? We are excited to share our latest platform, uSamp Mobile, at MRMW, a best in class mobile offering that's already providing mobile insights to clients. WIth uSamp Mobile, you can conduct research that gauges customer experience — at the time that it is happening — providing you with relevant insights and validated, actionable data. Additionally, uSamp Mobile provides you with the tools you need to conduct mobile diary studies, stimulate brand engagement, and measure ad awareness and exposure. Mobile has the potential to reshape the industry as we know it, as it is fast becoming the solution of choice for researchers and marketing professionals looking for instant, onsite feedback from on-the-go audiences. 

RM: It can be easy to bemoan the state of market research today.  Instead of us talking about what you’re against in the traditional MR space, I’d love to hear about what you’re for – what you stand for – in the MRMW space.  What makes this something you’re willing to stand up for?

MD: Since uSamp was founded four years ago, we have always been forward-thinking. We embrace the challenges that technology presents on a daily basis, and see great opportunity in what others might read as disruption. We believe that transparency, technology, and agility will ensure that researchers become an indispensable part of the business landscape,  and bring unparalleled consumer intelligence to the market place. We stand for the power to harness and successfully interpret big data, the sheer volume of such is unprecedented. If we—as an industry—can ban together and embrace this challenge as a great opportunity, we have the potential to advance our profession—and influence the industries that rely on our insight.

RM: Matt, you talked specifically about transparency, technology and agility being key attributes that researchers need in order to be a vital part of the business landscape.  We've talked some about the importance of technology already, and what it does for us as researchers, but what makes transparency and agility important?  I’d love to hear more.

MD: Transparency requires openness and honesty in methodology; at the end of the day, it is about fostering a more trusting community: the more open we are about our practices, the more diligent and meticulous we have to be, the higher quality we can expect from one another. Agility refers to the ability to adapt to disruption. It's not just about reacting to the changes, but proactively seeking ways to work through them, with them, and in them. Let's keep raising the bar and embracing change, and make some #mrx waves together.

Pre-MRMW 12 Interview: Scott Stein

Monday, June 11, 2012


When I go to a conference, I’m looking for practical things to take back and apply, and Scott Stein hits on just that.  Really, theory is great, but without application, it is useless.  So, here’s my conversation with Scott Stein of QuestBack, who gives a sneak peek of what to expect from his discussion at MRMW 12.

RM: What are you most excited to share about with us at MRMW and why?

SS: For years now, brands have looked forward to strategically embracing the mobile world ‘one day.’ That day is here, and companies now have the technological capability to implement cutting edge mobile marketing strategies. During our presentation, we look forward to sharing the innovative ways in which brands from around the world are reaching out to their mobile clients to capture new insights. We're also looking forward to demonstrating how mobile insights empower marketing initiatives to engage customers, nurture brand advocates, pursue customer-inspired product innovation, and improve overall customer relationships.

RM: What difference could it make for your audience if they were to implement what you’ll be talking about?

SS: This session is not a lecture, but rather a discussion designed to be thought provoking and inspire new ideas that attendees can bring back to the office to share. After attending the session, audience members will have a library of knowledge on what top brands are doing to implement mobile marketing solutions quickly, inexpensively and effectively. They can then inform their own customers on how to develop strong mobile strategies and reach key customers.

RM: What engages your imagination in the market research in the mobile world space? Who or what inspires you? Why?

SS: The newest innovations in augmented reality are a very exciting frontier. Voice control, near field communication / mobile payments and adaptive layouts are all going to change the way that consumers use mobile devices – and thus how brands can connect and engage with customers. For marketers, this will build out multi-faceted layers of customer relationships, including more visible insights around consumer needs, behaviors and opinions.

RM: Thanks for your time, Scott!  I look forward to being part of the discussion in July, and for having some fresh inspiration around what brands are doing in the mobile marketing space.

Pre-MRMW 12 Interview: Rebecca West

Friday, June 8, 2012


For interview five of the Pre-MRMW series, I got to talk with Rebecca West of Civicom.  She goes in to the challenges of being on the cutting edge of new market research, how being part of the MRMW community has been a benefit and a sneak peek of the case study she’ll be discussing in July.

RM: What are you most excited to share about with us at MRMW and why?  What difference could it make for your audience if they were to implement what you’ll be talking about?

RW: At the MRMW in Amsterdam last April, we shared how mobile qualitative research takes you right in the moment of truth – when your consumer makes their purchase decision.  This July, we’ll talk about the next phase… so they’ve purchased your product/service, how do you deep dive into consumers’ thoughts to unlock insights in how they arrive to their “repeat purchase” decision.
We’re most excited with the case study we’re going to show with the audience.  Our presentation is entitled “Lather, Rinse, Repeat – Getting into the Shower and Other Private Spaces with Mobile Qualitative.” It’s going to be a very entertaining case study presentation and we’re hoping we will be able to squeeze in sharing some audio recording samples.
The key takeaway from our series presentations – mobile qualitative doesn’t just unlock the truth, it brings you right into the moment, closer than ever to the consumer/respondent where researchers could not have been before. 

RM: What engages your imagination in the market research in the mobile world space?  Who or what inspires you?  Why?

RW: The human brain is very fascinating in its ability to compartmentalize all the functions we need it to do.  For us, it’s the dynamism of the mobile world – in one part of our brain we’re constantly brewing the next practical solution. The mobile world is moving so fast that we need to keep our feet on the ground, hold on to our seats, and let our brain explore the possibilities 3 years, 5 years, 10 years from now. 
On the other hand, another part of our brain is dedicated to customizing our current solutions to fit every project that makes sense to cross over into the mobile space.  We believe in innovation, in technology, but we also believe that not all new mobile research technology makes sense…you may think you want this super overloaded feature packed solution but in reality you might only need the basic functions and you will need to simplify it to make it more usable for the real users, the respondents.    

RM: What difference did your participation in MRMW in the past make for your MR practice?

RW: It’s very inspiring to have this community who will work together to drive ideas and approaches to deliver mobile MR solutions forward, to make the before impossible task possible, such as reaching more respondents, conducting studies nationwide and globally without having to travel, and actually gaining access to the more intimate thoughts and spaces of the consumer.  MRMW has helped us facilitate new connections with more thought and innovation leaders around the world. The MMRA is creating a community where we can address issues relevant to everyone, and formulate answers that will benefit all. A good example has to do with privacy policies and notification requirements, which vary globally. We now can draw on a variety of people for ideas as well as a sounding board for our own thoughts, and not be confined to only what we can figure out ourselves.


Pre-MRMW 12 Interview: Tom H.C. Anderson

Thursday, June 7, 2012


As part four of the pre-MRMW speaker interview series, I got to ask Tom H.C. Anderson of Anderson Analytics and OdinText some questions.  He goes into a great real world example of how text analytics can be applied to improve the survey taker’s experience and deliver better insights.  Sounds like a win/win to me.  Here’s our conversation.

RM: What are you most excited to share about with us at MRMW and why?  What difference could it make for your audience if they were to implement what you’ll be talking about?

TA: I’ll be speaking about my favorite topic, text analytics. As you may know, since 2005 my firm has been specializing in how to best leverage unstructured (text) data within marketing research. There are so many applications for this, and while social media seems to be top of mind for many I think there are huge opportunities in many other areas as well including survey research.
For instance, just last night I was visiting with my parents. Ironically my father who is 88 was trying to take an online customer satisfaction survey regarding a purchase he had recently made. It was a relatively simple product, but the survey was rather long and asked several unnecessary questions. At his age he has little patience for the computer never mind long winded surveys. I felt a bit embarrassed about it as he knows I’m in the market research business. I think the only reason he completed the survey was because I was there and helped him through it. He said, “Is there a way to tell them this survey is just too long?”
There was in fact one open ended question which he could easily answer. Our research with surveys like this has shown that we can actually do a very good job predicting several of the closed ended variables from the comment question using text analytics. I think one of the many benefits someone would get from implementing a text analytics program in cases like this is to not only better leverage the valuable insights from these rich open ended questions, but also allow them to ask fewer questions thus increasing response rates and creating a better customer and respondent experience.  

RM: Great example of how text analytics can be a win/win both for those answering the survey and for those receiving data.  I look forward to hearing more.  Here’s another question for you, then: what are you most excited to hear about from others at MRMW?  Why?

TA: Well I think perhaps at this conference more than most others I speak at, I look forward to hearing what the audience has to say. I understand there will be many there from Procter & Gamble. I’ve always admired P&G for not only being pioneers in new areas of research, but also for doing it right and not sacrificing proper methodological rigor.
Before we had developed the OdinText software platform, and were still focusing mainly on full service text analytics consulting in market research, I had spoken to P&G folks who were also experimenting with text analytics software vendors of the time. Like many of the early pioneers on the client side they hadn’t had the best experience with what was then available. I think we’ve come a long way in the past 6-7 years, not just on the technology side, but as importantly on the best practices on how to best utilize the software and techniques. So I look forward to interesting questions and discussions with members of the audience before, during and after my talk.

Pre-MRMW 12 Interview: Paul McDonald

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


As part three of the pre-MRMW interview series, I had the privilege of interviewing Paul McDonald of Google Consumer Surveys.  He gets into something quite near and dear to my heart: caring for the folks participating in the research.  Without people that are willing to participate in research, we won’t have a future.  Here’s our conversation.

RM: What are you most excited to share about with us at MRMW and why?  What difference could it make for your audience if they were to implement what you’ll be talking about?

PM: One of the things we think a lot about here at Google is speed. There is a maxim we frequently use that comes directly from Google’s founders, “Faster is always better”. In the market research world, there seems to be a perception that speed comes at some cost, typically quality. It doesn’t have to be that way.

We think about speed in all aspects of our product and it’s really at the core of what we are doing. The initial idea for Google Consumer Surveys was conceived to find a faster way for users to access protected content online (on sites like the NY Times and WSJ that required you to pull out your wallet and pay to get access to that content). We had to find a way that reader could quickly get access and the publisher would still get value from the interaction. To be frank, we stumbled upon market research as the answer but once we realized that answering a question could take less than 10 seconds and that researchers would pay to get these questions answered we knew we were onto something.

With our large network of publishers we realized that not only could readers get access to content quickly, researchers could also get thousands of answers to questions in a matter of hours across a wide demographic.

It’s hard to put into words how large our respondent base could be. Every day on our ad networks we serve billions of ad impressions. If just a small fraction of our publishers implement Google Consumer Surveys we are talking about 10s of millions of unique users per day answering questions. Add in the volume from mobile applications and we could easily reach more than 100 million unique users a day. It puts us in a unique situation to let researchers choose to either get nearly instantaneous answers to their questions or to get a nearly perfect representative sample of a given population over a longer period of time, no matter how small that population might be.

So what does this mean for researchers? Among other things they can:
     Enable companies to make accurate, data driven decisions in near real-time
     Stop spending days or weeks getting the questions just right or making sure they’ve asked for exactly the information they need. Instead the data collection can be iterative, adjusting to the data collected to create the perfect survey.
     Track sentiment and opinion in smaller increments. A brand or politician can make messaging adjustments on a daily or hourly basis in response to feedback.

RM: It can be easy to bemoan the state of market research today.  Instead of us talking about what you’re against in the traditional MR space, I’d love to hear about what you’re for – what you stand for – in the MRMW space.  What makes this something you’re willing to stand up for?

PM: The respondent experience.

It’s easy to overlook the burden research puts on respondents. Instead of feeling empowered by seeing your feedback incorporated into products and services that you use and love, you end up cringing anytime you are asked to complete a survey. We’ve made a conscious decision to stand for the respondent first because ultimately we believe that the quality of the data you get back is direct reflection of the experience you put the respondent through.

By taking this approach we’ve had to make some tough choices for researchers. The premise of our ecosystem is that readers tradeoff their time for access to content. They need to be able to approximate how much time it will take to answer a survey in order to make that trade off so we intentionally limit the number of questions asked to any one respondent in one viewing to two questions. This results in accurate answers as it takes more effort to attempt to deceive us as it does to answer honestly.

We also limit the number of the characters in the question text and answer options to focus researchers on creating clear and concise questions. Similarly we limit the number of answer options show at any one time to make it easy for the respondent to comprehend the question and answer accurately. Finally we limit the question formats, purposely staying away from grids, complicated branching behavior and confusing rating systems. We’ve also introduced new question formats that are interesting for users and useful for researchers. Our image based questions are great for brand recognition tests, design and product comparisons. These questions are fun to complete and simple to understand.

Finally we review each survey for comprehension and adherence to our policies. So users are getting questions they understand and researchers are getting back data that is accurate and useful. In the end we think the respondent experience is the most important factor in quality research even if it means a more limited experience for researchers.


RM: Thanks, Paul.  We look forward to hearing more in July!

Pre-MRMW 12 Interview: Alistair Hill

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


As part of the pre-MRMW interview series, I got to interview Alistair Hill of On Device research.  I'm particularly excited about how he will demonstrate the new access market researchers are given because of mobile.

RM: What are you most excited to share with us at MRMW and why?

AH: We are exclusively revealing the results of our new research study – International Youth Confidence Index.  The index will reveal how young people are feeling towards the economy, their employment prospects and their propensity to purchase, as well as their overall confidence. For international comparison, the research is taking place across a number of developing and developed markets and will be repeated every month, so trends can be tracked over time. We’re very excited about our youth confidence index, it will provide valuable insights into the confidence levels of the next generation and how it differs across international economies.   
RM: I’d love to hear about what you’re for – what you stand for – in the MRMW space.  What makes this something you’re willing to stand up for?
AH: On Device Research is focused on giving a voice to young consumers, especially those in emerging markets. We connect those hard to reach audiences, using the most relevant research methodology for participants, their mobile phone. On Device Research enjoys providing answers to the client’s complex research questions, especially those which can’t always be answered by using traditional research methods. 

RM: Historically, how has mobile allowed you to get to places that you couldn't reach before?

AH: Young people and people in emerging markets are traditionally a very hard audience to reach. Many in emerging markets don’t have access to a PC/laptop, but the emergence of web enabled mobile devices creates a new route to connect and it makes it much easier, quicker and more cost effective for researchers.

It’s difficult for researchers to engage young people to participate in research, but by using a web enabled mobile it encourages participation as you’re engaging with them on a device that is very personal and highly relevant for them.

Pre-MRMW 12 Interview: Navin Williams


Market Research in the Mobile World is coming to Cincinnati July 18th and 19th.  I’m excited to be an attendee because of the great cast that will be sharing.  These are folks that I have followed in social media for the past several years and learned from and been inspired by, all in one place!  Because I couldn’t wait to get to interact with them a bit, I have conducted a series of interviews with some of the speakers.  Come on back for conversations with more of the folks speaking at the event.  Hopefully, this will give you a sneak peek into what the conference will be about, as well as some inspiration to motivate change and growth in your own market research practice.  I firmly believe that market research as we know it is at a crucial point in history.  We all desperately need to be learning from and inspired by each other...and quickly!  So, without further ado, here’s my first interview, with Navin Williams of Mobile Measure.

RM: What are you most excited to share about with us at MRMW and why?  What difference could it make for your audience if they were to implement what you’ll be talking about?

NW: Unlike established channels and methodologies in research, mobile is an infant with the potential to be Goliath [with David’s heart!]. Sharing the possibilities out there for innovation using mobile in MR and the limitless possibilities ahead excites me tremendously. At the stage MR is at presently, imagination is the limit!     

RM: I like your metaphor of Goliath with David’s heart for mobile.  You have such an optimistic view of the situation that market research is in today.  Still, it can be easy to bemoan the state of market research today.  Instead of us talking about what you’re against in the traditional MR space, I’d love to hear about what you’re for – what you stand for – in the MRMW space.  What makes this something you’re willing to stand up for?

NW: One of the things that got me excited in MR when I began was that we could build things from scratch like a perception model or a socio economic demographic profiling without having to be straight jacketed into existing models, definitions or black boxes. Given things have changed considerably, mobile gives me those same opportunities again. Not only do I get my kicks out of it, I know Mobile is evolving into a major force in the near future. I not only believe in Mobile, I have put my money where my mouth is.
Allow me to illustrate with an example. A few years ago we had done a study for snacking and had two samples - one maintaining a Pen and Paper diary and another a Mobile diary. Every time the respondent purchased/consumed a product they recorded that interaction. We found that the Pen and Paper diary was filled at the end of the day and was dependent on the recall of their consumption/purchase of the day. While for the mobile diary the recording was instant during or just after the event coupled with a photo or video. We found that a consumer buying a new packaging product or new flavor beverage recorded the rationale as “thirsty/hungry” while the mobile capture gave us responses which were more spontaneous reactions like “I liked the new shape”, “looks cool” or “nice colours”.

RM: Thanks, Navin, for your perspective, highlighting the possibilities before us!  I love that you “get your kicks out of” the new challenge.  Not everyone has experienced the challenge the same way, so I look forward to seeing how you will encourage folks at MRMW with your enthusiasm.

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