Matthew D. Dusig, Co-Founder and CEO of uSamp, oversees corporate strategy, technology and business development opportunities for the company. With a key focus on product development, he is the visionary and leader for all software initiatives.
Read the full biography here.
DIY Market Research Solutions
10th May, 2012
In any major industry, whether it’s the airlines, entertainment, technology or finance, there are disruptive innovators at play. These newcomers challenge the incumbents to rise to the occasion, and inevitably change the fate of an industry – for better or for worse.
The DIY debate in the Market Research industry is the perfect example of this type of disruption. In MR, a field dominated by acute methodology and hard-earned expertise, disruption is less than welcomed. In a space where professionals hold the keys to sample, do-it-yourself technology, that could potentially unlock a data mine for mass consumption, is unstable and threatening by nature.
Transparency and control are primary drivers of do-it-yourself, and they should be welcomed with open arms. Google’s entrance into this space with their consumer surveys platform only further validates the need for accessible, on-demand SaaS insights--not only relegated to professionals, but available for the masses. All participants will profit when we start allowing technology to perform repetitive tasks that cost us valuable time in the past. Some may say that vendor relationships aren’t built by technology, but nurtured through a boutique approach. I say that technology doesn’t replace relationships; it just makes them stronger.
At the end of the day, most of the dialogue is centered on disintermediation. For some, this represents untapped opportunity, for others, threat. As Leonard Murphy notes in his blog DIY Get’s Empowered, ‘The sector that is on the receiving end of that is never happy about it.’ If clients are given the tools to do research themselves, what will happen to the Market Research professionals? What will happen to proper sample, appropriate scales, established objectives? Worse, what will happen to an industry based on valued insights?
Over the past few years, the DIY market has become an inevitable reality, as more companies, both traditional and new entrants, start to invest in developing research solutions for surveying. Just a keyword search in MrWeb for 'DIY' yields dozens of articles regarding new technologies and acquisitions in the past year alone. Dana Stanley has argued that DIY is not an adequate label for the practice, as it is not a separate type of research (nor less professional), but rather a tool in the market research kit.
I could spend days exploring all the various tangents of the debate, but instead, I want to focus on the big-picture: mapping the DIY landscape. Although these solutions have challenged the foundation of Market Research, I believe that the availability of such tools has changed it for the better. DIY has empowered clients to participate in the process, which has in turn solidified the relationship between MR professionals and their clients.
It used to be that you had to pick between good, fast and cheap. If you wanted fast and good, then it wouldn’t be cheap. Good and cheap? Forget fast. DIY solutions offer all three. In an age where instant gratification is a necessity, there’s nothing faster than having the ability to manage your own expectations and flip the switches yourself. The days of emailing vendors to ask about the status of your project are slowly coming to an end. Transparency and control are the primary drivers of do-it-yourself.
My company is called ‘uSamp’ because we believed – from the start – that our customers should be empowered with the same tools that we have at our fingertips. We started believing in 2006 that there would come a time when buyers of market research would want greater control and transparency at lower pricing.
So here we are in 2012 and here are a few ideas from me on how you navigate this complex DIY landscape.
1) Survey Scripting:
Software solutions have different bells and whistles. How do you determine the best solution for you? A few options to consider: does this platform have a user-friendly interface, offer good customer service, real-time survey results, or mobile formatting? How fast is the process and how effective is the design of the survey-taking experience? Another item to consider is consultative-DIY for those who don’t necessarily have the ‘know-how.’ There are dozens of solutions that range from high to low-end. SurveyBuilder by uSamp, SurveyGizmo, Qualtrics, Survey Monkey, Zoomerang, and PollDaddy are just a few of those who provide survey-scripting. Some of the services are free and others have a “freemium” model where the software is free until you’ve reached a certain threshold. Other high-end solutions may involve a steep learning curve and have higher price tags, but offer features that aren’t available in the consumer-grade/freemium software applications.
2) Survey Software with Integrated, On-Demand Respondents:
This is a fairly new concept within the market research landscape. The ability to build a survey and gather results from panelists in nearly real-time is attractive. Prior to this innovation, you’d have to build a survey and then call or email a sampling company for a quote. Not all surveys can be sampled in this method due to complex sample frames or hard-to-reach audience requirements. But, this solution certainly fulfills on the requirements of Faster, Cheaper and Better.
Look for the ability to build surveys easily, find the right audience for your study and obtain real-time results that can be manipulated and output in a variety of ways and formats. Some of the solutions allow you to reach out to your followers directly to survey from social media or your own lists, in addition to accessing on-demand targeted audiences from the software. The solutions here include SurveyBuilder by uSamp, QuickSurveys by Toluna, Crowdvi.be by ResearchNow, QuickTake by SSI and AYTM. Google enters into this space with the primary motivation of monetizing content for publishers. Because of Google’s sheer scale, and intense penetration in the mobile market, our industry's ears are piqued as we wait to see what they come up with next.
3) Self-Serve Sampling Solutions:
Maybe you’ve already built your own survey and you just need sample. A few years back you only had one choice, which was to call or email an online sampling company. Most sampling firms are fast and efficient at delivering results quickly, but using email to order any product or service usually isn’t efficient. There are two solutions on the market today for DIY sampling and they depend on your sampling preferences. SampleMarket by uSamp provides a professional grade solution for market research professionals to gain on-demand access to uSamp survey panelists. Cint offers a solution that allows you to log on and purchase access to panel databases owned by 3rd parties who are looking to monetize the database asset. You might want to consider whether you want single source or a blended approach to sampling. Find out what types of controls you have for quota managements, exclusion rules, targeting, international support, and customer service --and not to be overlooked, find out how easy the software is to use because you could have the finest car on the road, but if you can’t drive stick, then what’s the use?
4) Qualitative solutions for Chat or Video Sessions:
Sometimes you need to dig deeper and gain more insights than a quantitative survey allows. There are solutions that allow you to communicate with respondents both via online chat or online video recorded sessions. The solutions available here are GutCheck for online chatting and QualVu for online video. There are two types of offerings in the DIY qualitative market. Those that are synchronous (e.g., live and on-demand) and those that are not, which are referred to as asynchronous solutions.
Synchronous solutions - GutCheck is one of the only player’s in the DIY qualitative market that allows for you to do synchronous, one-on-one, chat-based interviews in real time. They utilize SampleMarket API technology to drive participants into these studies. Because of the deep integration, they can typically get them a qualified respondent in a matter of minutes.
Asynchronous - There are a number of asynchronous methods in the qualitative world that have some DIY capability. For ethnographic work, there are firms like Revelation, which recently came out with a DIY product. For video-based solutions, QualVu has a platform in this area, and have some DIY capabilities. For bulletin-board based solutions, there are several including 20|20 Research and iTracks.
5) Panel Management Solutions:
Want to build your own panel or host a panel for a client? Most solutions don’t allow you to log on and do-it-yourself immediately, and almost all require some sort of RFP process to jumpstart the launch of your own panel. But most of the companies offering panel software also allow you online access to utilize your own panel once it has been set up. Features to look for include: white label branding of the panel web site; email broadcasting to invite panelists to surveys; reward management solutions to provide incentives to panelists; panel member customer service solution (so that you don’t personally have to receive concerned emails from panel members); the ability to recruit fresh panelists from the web; referral source tracking (to identify how people are learning about your panel – if you’re recruiting from the web); and the ability to import an existing database. Some of the existing solutions are PanelBuilder by uSamp, Kinesis, Vision Critical, Global Park, Toluna and many more. Price can vary especially when you’re looking for the panel provider to build your panel from traffic online, as opposed to importing an existing panel or database. The requirements of each panel are extremely different and the price points vary dramatically; thus the reason it’s good to use a RFP.
So, as you can see, there are a variety of solutions. How you select a specific provider is naturally dependent on your needs. But the purpose of outlining each of these specific and diverse solutions is not only my attempt to sketch out the landscape of DIY, but to illustrate how powerful these solutions are for customers. It would be remiss not to mention mobile solutions, which are becoming more relevant every day in the DIY environment.
Over the next two years, we're going to continue to see a push towards DIY or consultative-DIY in Market Research. uSamp has been built around this future vision of DIY surveying and sampling. SurveyMonkey's acquisition of MarketTools’ Zoomerang and ZoomPanel assets only further substantiates that vision. All the major sampling firms will become more aggressive in this space, as they already have software tools in place. But right now, these tools are just that, and will need to be strategically integrated to succeed. DIY adoption rates will rise with education and application.
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