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Why Online Research Is Like A Quarterback Who’s Over the Hill

Football player blog pic

 

With the NFL season almost upon us, we’d like to give online research its due while being realistic about what’s happened to it: today’s online is like an old veteran who was once great but can no longer get the job done. And because the game is all about winning, it’s time for the team to move on to something better. 

 

A case in point is former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre. He had an epic career that lasted 20 seasons – including more than 17 straight seasons in which he didn’t miss a game and set an all-time NFL record by playing in 321 consecutive games (playoffs included). No quarterback in pro football history threw the ball more (10,960 attempts) or completed more passes (6,781). Along the way, Favre won three straight Most Valuable Player awards in the 1990s, and quarterbacked the Packers to two Super Bowls, winning one.

 

Online research also has had its time of glory. For about two decades it was the most prolific survey mode in the consumer data game, and it provided many most-valuable insights. But as was the case with Brett Favre — and just about every other great athlete — time and change take their toll. Online research is in its twilight now, its performance and capabilities greatly diminished from its prime. 

 

The statistics show that Favre hung on one year too many: in 2010, his last season, he threw nearly twice as many interceptions as touchdowns, had the worst quarterback rating of his career (69.9, down from peak years when he was always above 90), and suffered a sprained shoulder and a concussion that kept him out of three games, ending that mighty streak of consecutive games played. Meanwhile, the Packers had moved on, trading Favre to clear the way for Aaron Rodgers, who quickly established himself as a great, Super Bowl-winning quarterback for a new generation.

 

On today’s market research playing field, you can think of online research as Brett Favre in that stumbling last year. While he continued to be respected for what he’d done, he was no longer a difference-maker who could give his team a solid chance to win.  And so it is with online research as it stands today. Quality completes are harder to come by, projects are being routinely intercepted by fraudulent survey bots, and doubts have set in about online’s ability to deliver a demographically representative consumer panel. Increasingly, we see it resorting to Hail Mary tactics such as routing, river sample, and multi-source panel-blending. The result is compromised data and widespread discontent with project results. 

 

Meanwhile, the game has moved on to its next dominant player, in-app mobile research. Brands and major market research firms are becoming increasingly aware of what it can accomplish — and that if you’re in the insights game to win, in-app is the weapon you need. To have a productive conversation about in-app mobile (and, if you like, talk a little football), just get in touch at solutions@mfour.com.

 

And for an entertaining video introduction to in-app mobile research, just click here.

 

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Mobile 101: Fight Panel Fraud with In-App Mobile (Part Two)

 

mobile 101

 

In any profession or trade, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds of day-to-day demands and lose track of the basic facts and objectives that are the foundation of success. With that in mind, here’s what insights professionals and marketers need to remember about consumer panels. The overarching insight here is that panel fraud and cutting corners to fill quotas will turn survey data into a corrosive force instead of an illuminating one when it comes to business decision-making. Today’s topic is…

 

Avoiding the Cracks in Online Panel Quality

  • Consumers in all demographic groups have gone mobile and favor mobile apps.
  • Consequently, online surveys fielded to panelists who use desktops or laptops fail to meet consumers where they are and in the way they’d prefer.
  • Because they are trying to reach consumers where they were instead of where they are, online panel providers need to scratch, scramble and use catch-as-catch-can methods to deliver the completes and demographics they’ve promised their clients.
  • Consequently, online panel providers increasingly turn to multi-sourcing or river sampling (ad hoc recruitment from the web) to deliver on their contracts. 
  • Multi-sourcing opens the door to duplicate responses. It also increases the likelihood of fraud by bots that imitate human respondents. That’s because bots are endemic to the online sphere, whether it’s ad fraud or consumer survey fraud. 
  • Sample providers whose main consideration is cost and convenience instead of reliable data from validated panelists are giving you what you pay for. And it isn’t quality, fraud-free data. 

 

The best defense against panel fraud and compromised data is to educate yourself about in-app mobile research. It’s a lot less complicated than trying to get a handle on all the hazards you’ll have to account for when you buy online sample. Just get in touch at solutions@mfour.com. And for an entertaining video introduction to in-app mobile, just click here

 

Related:

Mobile 101: Fight Panel Fraud with In-App Mobile (Part One)

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Message to Thought Leaders: In-App Mobile Beats “Mobile Optimized”

 

 

Newsletter image Thought Leader 15Aug17

 

Any conversation about mobile research is a good conversation, especially when it emphasizes a core truth like this:  “Excluding people who will only take part [in surveys] via mobile is going to compromise your research – and this effect is likely to increase.”

 

The quote is from consultant Ray Poynter, a thought leader on survey methodology who has kept track of developments in mobile research over the years. It’s part of an article Poynter posted recently entitled “Major Update on Mobile Market Research.” But the conversation Poynter instigates is incomplete, because it neglects to reckon with in-app mobile surveys that represent the state-of-the-art. More about that in a moment.

 

Poynter’s article does reflect a thorough understanding of why it’s crucial to get mobile research right: smartphones are indispensable portals to today’s consumers, who overwhelmingly choose to receive and exchange information on their omnipresent, all-consuming phones. Perhaps the most telling statistic comes from the Pew Research Center: 77% of the U.S. public was using smartphones as of late 2016, rising to 92% among younger (18-29) Millennials. Here’s another: Flurry Analytics reports that the average American adult spends five hours a day on mobile devices – including more than 4 ½ hours using mobile apps.

 

As Poynter emphasizes, it follows, logically, that market research needs to meet today’s mobile consumers where they are, or face the consequences of being increasingly out of touch with what’s really happening in the marketplace. His article then dives into details of how best to adapt online surveys to smartphones.

 

And this is where his “major update” falls short. There’s an erroneous assumption, hardly unique to Poynter, that there’s just one way forward: trying to reconcile long-established online surveys to smartphones by tweaking designs that work well on personal computers but alienate mobile respondents with poor functionality and display.

 

There is, in fact, another approach: in-app mobile survey methodology that’s not just incrementally different, but stands categorically apart from online mobile research.  In-app research technology cuts the cord between the smartphone and the internet, allowing surveys to load instantly into the phone, where they can be taken offline. This approach renders everything you’ve heard about “mobile optimization” irrelevant.

 

No disrespect intended. To repeat: Poynter does everyone a service by emphasizing the fundamental need for insights professionals to get mobile research right. But it’s time to take the conversation a step further by always including the in-app mobile alternative in any discussion. Here, for starters, are three key value points:

  • Faster, more fluid performance that keeps respondents engaged, even with longer surveys lasting 20 minutes or more.
  • Instant load-ins that store the questionnaire in the app, allowing respondents to take surveys offline, where there’s no risk of dropped connections to the internet, and no vulnerability to survey-taking bots that defraud researchers and distort data by imitating real consumers.
  • Multimedia and geolocation capabilities that are unique to smartphones, making it possible to survey shoppers in-store or just after they’ve completed a visit, or to test social media ads by injecting them directly and unobtrusively into targeted consumers’ news feeds.

In-app mobile is not an untested technology or an unproven approach. Major brands including PepsiCo and Warner Bros. have embraced it to great effect. So let’s start remembering in-app solutions whenever the conversation turns to how consumer research can take advantage of  the unprecedented opportunities the Smartphone Era presents. For an in-depth conversation right now, just get in touch at solutions@mfour.com. And for a quick, entertaining video overview of in-app mobile, just click here.

 

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Take a Cue from Disney — Reach Consumers with a Mobile App

 

Blog Mobile Movies Disney 14Aug15

 

There’s no more famous entertainment brand than Disney – the name speaks for itself.

 

And here’s what Disney is telling you about what brands and consumer insights experts need to do to prosper in the Smartphone Era: see and exploit the opportunity that resides in mobile apps.

 

The news out of Disney is that it’s launching what the New York Times characterizes as “two Netflix-style streaming services.” The first, which will debut early in 2018, offers special sports content provided by Disney-owned ESPN to expand upon the cable-based ESPN  programming (which currently enjoys its own solid app following). The other new service, to launch in 2019, will be the exclusive streaming home of new Disney movies and titles from its catalogue of feature films, cartoon shorts, and television shows.

 

The new initiative shows that Disney is all-in on mobile apps as the most effective means of reaching on-the-go audiences. The Times reports that Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger “had lately noticed `a dramatic increase in app-based media consumption,’ and not just for its own offerings.” Building new streaming services that take advantage of the popularity and great functionality of mobile apps flowed naturally from that realization. The streaming apps will cater to and take advantage of smartphone users’ insistence that the entertainment, news and social connectivity they want be literally at hand whenever they want it, and wherever they go.

 

Here are three key findings about mobile apps that help explain Disney’s thinking:

  • The average American adult spends more than two hours a day consuming media content on mobile apps, eMaketer reports.
  • That increases to more than three hours daily among the key 18- to 29-year-old consumer cohort.
  • Taking a wider view, Flurry Analytics reports that 92% of all time spent on mobile devices takes place in apps, compared to just 8% spent connected to the internet.

Why? Because smartphone users demand fast, smooth functionality, and that’s what a well-designed mobile app delivers. The “mobile optimized” approach to consumer surveys approach neglects to account for apps and the fact that they are now the comfort zone for the respondents researchers need to reach.

 

“Mobile optimized” surveys assume that respondents will visit and stay connected to a website where the survey is housed.

  • To connect to the survey, respondents must open and click on email notifications — a weakness in itself, because email is easily ignored, compared to an in-app push notification.
  • Those who do connect to the online survey often encounter frustration due to unreliable functionality — especially slow load-ins for each question that eat away at their time, their patience and their willingness to complete a survey.
  • In app-surveys overcome these deficiencies by skipping any need for a web connection. Only in-app research provides the smoothly functioning smartphone experiences consumers demand and enjoy.  
  • Respondents will reward a good, frustration-free experience with more attentive, thoughtful, and accurate survey answers. The result is data that build a reliable basis for drawing informed insights that help brand executives make smart business decisions.

Of course, we’re always telling you that. Now you don’t have to take our word for it, because Mickey Mouse is telling you, too. For more on how in-app mobile solutions can fit your specific needs, just get in touch at solutions@mfour.com.

 

And for an entertaining overview of mobile research, click here.

 

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MFour Hires Team Members in Software Development and Survey Programming

 

Hiring A Lu G Kofman

 

MFour has added two new team members in its Engineering and Operations departments, as it continues to ramp up staffing to meet growing demand for its mobile research solutions, without sacrificing the quality and consistent service its clients deserve.

 

Gennadiy Kofman, Senior Software Engineer, brings more than ten years’ experience as a developer to responsibilities that include building new features and enhancing content management systems. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from California State University, Northridge.

 

Alice Lu will focus on Survey Programming and Data delivery, helping clients achieve successful research projects. She got her first consumer survey experience in research projects at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

 

Welcome aboard, Gennadiy and Alice!

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Mobile 101: Fight Panel Fraud with In-App Mobile (Part One)

 

mobile 101

 

In any profession or trade, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds of day-to-day demands and lose track of the basic facts and objectives that are your foundations for success. With that in mind, here’s what insights professionals and marketers need to remember about consumer panels. The overarching insight here is that panel fraud and cutting corners to fill quotas will turn survey data into a corrosive force instead of an illuminating one when it comes to business decision-making. Let’s start with…

 

Fundamentals of the Supplier/Client Relationship

  • Panel providers are in business to make money.
  • They earn their money by delivering the requisite number of completes from the requisite demographics.
  • Fighting fraud, delivering quality data, meeting deadlines and keeping clients fully informed is hard, exacting and costly work for the panel provider. There’s always an incentive to cut corners.
  • Clients need to demand quality; they won’t get it if they’re willing to sacrifice quality to achieve initial cost savings. 
  • Sacrificing quality to save research costs is penny wise and pound foolish. What good is cheap data when it’s going to mislead decision-makers? They need the highest-quality research inputs to inform the smartest business moves.
  • There’s a categorical difference in the quality, methodology and value propositions between  in-app mobile survey technology that allows smartphone users to respond offline, and last-generation online research (which includes “mobile optimized” online surveys). Online research is easy prey to  repeat, multi-panel respondents and survey bots that play havoc with data quality; in-app mobile is immune to repeats and lives in a bot-free space. 

It’s easy to learn more about these important differences and better understand your full range of options for achieving data quality and research efficiency. Just take a few minutes to have a productive conversation about in-app mobile research by getting in touch at solutions@mfour.com.

 

Related:

Mobile 101: Fight Panel Fraud with In-App Mobile (Part Two)

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MFour’s New Office Wing Marks Another Milestone in its Surging Growth

 

Blog New Wing 900 x 300

 

Continuing its ongoing growth surge, mobile market research leader MFour has completed its second major office expansion in less than two years. It now has taken over the entire 7th floor of the South tower of the Newport Gateway complex near John Wayne International Airport, increasing its floor space from 14,000 to 22,000 square feet.

 

The home office accommodates a team that has grown from 36 employees to 86 over the past year. Another expansion is coming very soon: in September, MFour will open its first satellite branch, an office in Scottsdale, Arizona, where 25 additional employees will focus on software development.

 

Signifying MFour’s innovative thinking, fighting spirit, commitment to excellence, and sense of humor, visitors to its new wing will quickly spot murals of Albert Einstein (depicted delivering a tongue-not-in-cheek lecture on consumer research), Thomas Edison and Muhammad Ali, along with soccer great Diego Maradona and a thoroughbred race horse and rider in full stride.

 

The murals and big projection screens in the new wing complement a striking electronic landmark that greets visitors as they arrive on MFour’s floor – a large, real-time motion map of the United States that shows blinking dots and flashing vectors of colored light shooting rapidly across the country in all directions. The vectors are activated by each actual survey going out, and each response coming in. The dots blink whenever one of the more than 1.3 million active panelists who use the definitive Surveys on the Go® research app crosses a geofence MFour has created to enable clients to conduct unique in-location and after-visit shopper surveys anywhere in the United States.

 

“If you’re in consumer insights, marketing or advertising, we’d love to have you come by and see what we’re doing,” MFour CEO Chris St. Hilaire said. “Otherwise, we’ll see you on the conference circuit or pay you a visit. Whatever it takes so you’ll understand that in-app mobile research isn’t just better than what you have now, but uniquely and categorically different.”

 

At this stage in its development, MFour is a mature startup that’s poised to fulfill the aim it has been driving toward since its founding in 2011: leading the consumer insights industry into a new era by harnessing the unprecedented data-generating power, accuracy and reach of smartphones, the dominant information and communications technology of the 21st century.

 

The company’s growing client base includes 88 new accounts established in 2016 alone – with more than 20 Fortune 500 companies among the new arrivals. A recent $5 million investment by Kayne NewRoad Ventures Fund has helped underwrite the growth in staffing and facilities, along with ongoing innovation and advancement of mobile survey technology and fielding processes. MFour is committed to achieving its rapid growth without compromising the data quality it delivers and the hands-on, every-step-of-the-way consultation and communication its clients deserve.

 

Behind this rapid growth is the insights industry’s increasing awareness that the in-app survey technology and all-mobile research panel MFour pioneers are not just the gold standard for quality data that’s demographically representative and fraud-free, but the only way for the industry to evolve and prosper in the Smartphone Era. Consumer research is nearing the inflection point at which in-app mobile data and insights will completely supersede last-generation online research methods designed for desktop computers. “Mobile optimized” half-measures that marry smartphones to outdated online survey platforms simply perpetuate the unsustainable status quo.

 

Rapid and sweeping change is hardly unprecedented in the consumer insights industry. The shift to in-app mobile echoes the evolution of a generation ago, when irreversible changes in technology and consumers’ habits made telephone surveys economically prohibitive, ushering in the era of online research. Now comes the next great step forward.

 

For a productive conversation about where market research is heading and what it means for your specific needs, just get in touch at solutions@mfour.com.

 

Click here for a video greeting from MFour. And take it from a genius….

 

Einstein 2 Online Panels Suck 900 x 300

 

 

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Warning: Recruiting Consumer Panels via Email Is Dangerous

 

I hate email.jpg

 

Forrest Gump’s mom taught him that “life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’ll get.”

 

Email is showing its own capacity for surprises – unpleasant ones that make headlines. Bear with us, and we’ll tell you in a moment why it’s no surprise that email is bad for recruiting panelists to take consumer surveys. First, some examples of emails gone wrong in the world of politics and government.

 

You’ve heard how email troubles disrupted the 2016 Democratic presidential campaign, and how the shoe landed on the other foot with the release of email exchanges involving Donald Trump, Jr. And so the beat goes on, with CNN now reporting on the email mishaps of others in the White House and on Wall Street who’ve fallen victim to imposters who posed as powerful figures in the recipients’ organizations.

 

“A self-described ‘email prankster’ in the UK fooled a number of White House officials into thinking he was other officials,” CNN’s article begins, “including an episode where he convinced the White House official tasked with cyber security that he was Jared Kushner and received that official’s private email address unsolicited.”

 

The point here isn’t to dwell on the embarrassment (or worse) that emails have caused for some prominent people. It’s to illustrate why email is falling increasingly out of favor. Please understand that we’re not saying email isn’t a fine thing for many kinds of personal or business interactions. It’s an effective and efficient way of communicating when both parties are willing, above-board, and have a good reason for sending and replying.

 

But email no longer has a place as the linchpin of the consumer survey process – as it has been for the past generation dominated by online surveys that rely on panel recruitment via email. It’s far too inefficient. 

 

With online surveys, respondents are expected to connect by clicking on a link embedded in an email. Before they can start answering questions, they must go through a gamut that only a small percentage will complete:

  • Check their email
  • Click to open the survey notification
  • Click a link that takes them to the website where the survey is housed
  • Begin answering the questions 

Multi-step processes are so last-decade. It’s no wonder, then, that here in 2017 online surveys are having a tough time generating enough completes from the right consumers.

 

Cutting email completely from the equation is one of the defining innovations of in-app mobile research. In the case of Surveys on the Go® from MFour, targeted respondents who’ve downloaded the app aren’t pestered with emails; they receive eagerly awaited push notifications sent through the app itself. Answering the push by tapping their app icon brings them instantly into the survey. From notification to completion, the process engages panelists because it’s tailored to their expectation that whatever they do on their phones should be wait-free, smooth-flowing and fun — not to mention an interesting and rewarding way to express their thoughts, actions and feelings concerning products, services, shopping experiences and advertising.

 

The proof of the in-app mobile panel-recruitment process is in the pudding – and MFour clients can expect response rates of 50% for most projects, with all required completes often obtained in a day or two. For a productive conversation about how in-app mobile aligns with your specific needs, just get in touch at solutions@mfour.com.