By Mike Misel
The growth in push-suppliers in the MR industry has been exponential, especially in the US market, and will continue to grow and become a real force in the sample supply chain. This has been further consolidated by the emergence of dashboard solutions and advanced API technology to make the most of this movement. Push-supply will continue to provide an important sample source at a time where supply is a major consideration, and distractions for consumers – turning their heads from survey participation – are rife.
The surge in popularity of this ‘offerwall’ type survey delivery, however, presents questions surrounding the frequency of respondent participation and what this means for the industry. Quarantine periods exist to protect the respondent experience – as well as help to wheedle out professional respondents – to ensure they aren’t getting bombarded with emails to take surveys.
Upholding these quarantine periods is becoming more challenging as the chain has become more convoluted, resulting in respondents being able to take part in as many surveys as they like on a frequency of their choosing. In the modern sampling world, we have a new respondent experience concern that didn’t exist when the idea of quarantine periods was conceptualized: device friendly studies. Nowadays most people are checking emails on their smartphone, and getting the 28 minute grid study creates an awful experience when taking it on mobile. So, dashboard sampling alleviates this by presenting opportunities when people are in a situation where they are looking to be monetized, because they are in a sense opting in, in real time.
There is concern in the industry about what this means for survey quality; does it open the doors for professional survey takers where gain of incentives is the main objective (and incentives are of course important to keep consumers engaged). Generally, a researcher may not be aware of the data gathering process and therefore not know about the potential for their insights to be based on opinions of people who take surveys very regularly.
How can this be addressed in a modern-day marketplace?
Some may argue that quarantine periods should be removed altogether, as there is no real way of policing them with the emergence of dashboard sampling, and with a demand for faster insights gathering, some researchers may not be overly concerned about duplication, if a quick return is needed based on a high volume sample.
Of course, those concerned about quality can take the blending route. This is a great solution to employ in any case where researchers are after a more accurate result with less bias or skew, which can sometimes occur from using one panel even when multiple survey-taking isn’t an issue. Respondents in any one panel will share common ground and so to gain a more widely representative opinion, pulling together and blending different sources, can provide a great result.
It’s difficult to state a right or wrong in the case of push supply and potential over use of respondents, as it will be of concern to some in the industry more than others – dependent on the type of insights needed or the project being worked on. But in a world where supply isn’t infinite, additional sources from push-suppliers certainly cannot be ruled out and will only grow further.
In addition, the growing reliance on what can be termed as ‘non-traditional’ sample sources also comes at a time when there is heightened scrutiny on the quality of online samples, highlighted recently by various papers presented at events hosted by the likes of the MRS and Esomar.
Reg Baker (and others) have called on the industry to revisit and review sampling practices, and raised awareness about the importance of insuring that the fundamentals and ‘science’ behind sampling, and setting sample-frames, remains high priority and central to all suppliers and their clients. So in order to help, here are five tips to consider around using non-traditional sample sources:
- Know the source. Expect transparency over the sources you using in terms of how the respondents are recruited and where from
- Understand the incentive model
- Understand the respondent flow from the supply source origin to the survey and whether there is routing or other techniques applied prior to a respondent reaching your survey
- Enquire as to the profiling and targeting capabilities of the supply sources you are using. For example, can the same respondent be contacted in the future should you need to?
- Appreciate the potential biases which exist with any source or methodology of sample, and account for those in your sample-frame designs.