Sample Wars, Smart Technology and the Future of Data Quality

Sample Wars, Smart Technology and the Future of Data Quality

Over the last six months in particular, our uSamp and teams have built and launched exciting new products, improved existing products, hired top talent and opened new markets. We are moving faster than ever, working harder and leaving our competitors breathless. What we are attempting to do—provide great, advanced market research products for an industry that historically has been slow to change—is not easy. I want to share some of my thoughts about what success for us will look like and how we are going to get there. So, let’s start with the business of selling online sample, our core business. We are justifiably proud of how fast we have become a major player in the space but there are trends that we need to get out in front of if we want to continue to prosper.

The past decade has seen many market research firms conducting quantitative research become obsessed with paying less and less for respondents to their surveys. Indeed, some of the largest buyers of sample utilize software programs that award jobs to sample providers on the basis of price and largely exclude things like quality and service. The emphasis on cheap sample increases the likelihood that surveys end up being filled by a relatively small band of professional survey takers who may or may not be the people they claim to be. Despite the obvious flaws in gathering data this way, an uncomfortable number of market researchers have become addicted to low-priced, flawed sample.

At the same time, new ways of conducting research are growing in popularity. Consumer marketers, who buy the lion’s share of survey-based research, are now using more and more sales, behavior and social data that provide valuable insights into consumer behavior and attitudes without having to ask as many questions via survey. With more research budgets going to expand the purchase of non-survey based data, our competitors, most of whom lack the technology and data science to innovate, have chosen to compete on the basis of price to maintain their sales.

That said, despite the proliferation of cheap sample and the growth of non-survey based research, there are buyers who are increasing their demand for quality sample. This new demand comes in large part from consumer brands who are at real risk of losing market share to both competitors and upstarts and are insisting on accurate and meaningful insights. And the number of these at-risk brands is growing.

It is not hard to understand why. Consumers today have access to so much instant information about actual product performance that advertising and the brand image it creates has far less impact than it used to in shaping consumer behavior. Combine this with the fact that it is much easier to create a new product and distribute it and you can see why such new brands as diverse as Chobani, Glacéau Water, Zytec and Silk Pure Almond Milk—just to name a few—have emerged seemingly out of nowhere.

Insights come from understanding who your customers are and why they buy or do not buy your products or services. Much of the “who” part can now be gathered via the digital trails consumers leave, but an essential bit of the “why” part still needs to be gathered via direct consumer engagement, some kind of back and forth, either via survey or via social media or a combination.

As a result of the increasing demand for quality intelligence about consumers from stressed brands in particular, the market for “sample” is bifurcating into the high-end quality players and the bottom feeders. To be successful, the high-end players will have to compete on the basis of full transparency into the quality of their panels, the ability to survey on any consumer device and the ability to add and mix third-party data sources to supplement survey data. High-end sample providers will be distinguished by the number of engineers and data scientists they employ.

To be clear, we have decided to serve the higher-end, quality-focused part of the market. It may not be easy but it is the smart move as the new non-survey tools will eventually replace most of the low-end sample that is currently informing things like brand tracking studies.

Our commitment to quality starts at the top, with our business model. Therefore, we are going to avoid jobs where the sample buyer is only interested in price and price is likely to result in delivery of flawed sample. Rather, we are going to focus on buyers that value quality sample and the insight it offers. We will be led by data science and employ smart technology as we identify respondents that we can truly verify. Our focus on data science is why we have already developed Adaptive Profiling, an industry-leading automated system that strategically asks the right question, to the right panelist, at the right time and a new unmatched bidding and feasibility tool that utilizes sophisticated algorithms instead of cut and paste excel sheets. Clients already praise the leading-edge way we deliver targeted sample via API connections and the ease by which we enable mobile research through iPoll. We are going to continue down this path.

CMOs and brand managers, the ones who have to fight every day to win market share, are looking really hard at the data sources being used to make decisions. And they are demanding that the intelligence gathering done via survey be of the highest quality. We will be their company of choice and continue to deliver on our mission of being the most quality-focused research technology company in the world.

This content was originally published by uSamp™ . Visit their website at

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SSI acquired instantly™

SSI acquired instantly™

Shelton, Connecticut, United States of America
About SSI acquired instantly™:
SSI ( is the premier global provider of data solutions and technology for consumer and B2B survey research.

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