The Online Panel Quality Debate Continues

Reineke Reitsma

Last week, I was in LA, hosting a session on online panel quality at Forrester’s Marketing Forum. I discussed the past, present, and future of online panel quality with Steve Schwartz from Microsoft, Maria Cristina Gomez from Procter & Gamble, and Frank Findley from ARS Group.

Online panel quality is still a major issue in the industry. The whole discussion started in 2006 with a speech by Kim Dedeker -- at that time, the VP of global consumer and market knowledge at Procter & Gamble. In it, she publicly expressed her concerns about online panel quality, how it affected their research results, and, as a result, the credibility of market research. In her speech, she stressed that, in her opinion, the industry – both research suppliers and clients – needed to focus on how to improve the overall quality of research. Her appeal to the industry was very successful. Many other research buyers weighed in with their stories, and the research providers took up the challenge. Since then, many initiatives have started, such as the ARF’s Foundation of Quality and ESOMAR’s 26 questions, as well as more technology-driven approaches like Peanut Labs’ Optimus and MarketTools’ TrueSample.

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The Data Digest: Brand Attitudes Of Online African Americans

Reineke Reitsma

In general, online African Americans are less well-off and spend less while shopping online  compared with other online consumers. However, several factors point to the opportunity of further engaging with this group. Our Technographics® research shows that African American online users are much less annoyed by the amount of advertising today compared with online users overall: 60% of the US online population agree that they are annoyed by advertising, versus only 39% of online African Americans. Furthermore, ads inform the purchase decisions that online African Americans make: Nearly twice as many African American online users (27%) as overall online users (15%) agree that ads help them decide what to buy.

Furthermore, 24% of online African Americans recognize that owning the best brand is important to them, compared with only 16% of all US online consumers. Therefore, brand reputation is a much bigger influencer in their purchase decision process.

The Data Digest: Media Consumption By Age (Europe)

Reineke Reitsma

There’s a lot of debate around which media channels consumers access and how much time they spend on each. Our Technographics® data reveals that young Europeans spend a total of about 40 hours per week on any type of media, and this number then declines with age. The biggest drivers of young consumers’ high levels of media engagement are Internet use and time spent playing games, both of which drop dramatically among older age groups:

However, these numbers are for the total European population and include countries like Spain and Italy, where Internet uptake is lower both in general and especially among older consumers. When we look at these numbers for the UK Internet population, for example, all age groups spend around 41 hours per week on different media activities. The total time spent doesn’t change much by age group, but the type of media activity does: Older consumers spend more time watching TV and reading newspapers than younger consumers, while the time they spend on the Internet decreases.

The Data Digest: Interest In Mobile Coupons

Reineke Reitsma

A recent published report called 'Mobile Coupons: Gold Rush Or Fool's Gold?' shows that both consumers and advertisers are curious about mobile coupons but that few consumers have trialed mobile coupons. Our Technographics data uncovers that only 3% have requested a coupon via cell phone, and only another 3% have actually used a mobile coupon. But mobile coupons help marketers reach new audiences, particularly those consumers ages 18 to 24 — 79% of whom typically spend less than 1 hour per week reading a newspaper. Younger consumers are most interested in mobile offers, especially for restaurants, drinks, and music/DVDs.

Advertisers will need to realize that some consumers — especially younger, new customers — may be mobile-only and that this mobile-only audience requires different promotions to encourage the behavior that merchants seek. Start with campaigns that are close to their heart (or mouth to be more precise) to win them over.

The Data Digest: Online Banking In Europe

Reineke Reitsma

Online banking has shown a fair amount of growth over the years in Europe. Forrester's Technographics® data shows that more than 50% of European Net users bank online today, up from about 35% in 2002. Northern Europe leads in the adoption of online banking, with 90% of Dutch and 87% of Swedish online consumers having used it in the past three months.

Interestingly, the countries that close the list with regards to online banking are actually leading the uptake of mobile banking in Europe. In Spain and Italy, about one in five mobile phone owners uses some kind of mobile banking — for example, to check their account balance, transfer money, or pay bills using text messaging (SMS) or the mobile Internet.

The Online Panel Quality Debate

Reineke Reitsma

A few years ago, Procter & Gamble publicly stated that it had experienced inconsistent research results from successive online research projects. Other organizations shared similar experiences, and questions were raised about “professional respondents.” The trustworthiness of online research was in question, and multiple initiatives arose. In the past two years, we’ve seen a lot of debate around this topic, and associations such as ESOMAR and ARF have come up with protocols that all good panels should follow — and many have. But what does this mean from a client perspective? How have initiatives like ARF's Quality Enhancement Process, MarketTools' TrueSample, or processes like machine fingerprinting changed the industry?

Next month, I'm hosting a panel at Forrester's Marketing Forum 2010 with participants from Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and the ARS Group to understand what the challenges with online sampling are today — and how they affect adaptability.

Questions I will discuss with the panel include the following:

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Capturing The Unconscious

Reineke Reitsma

Last week, I attended Research 2010, the research conference organized by the UK's Research Organization. One session was on innovative research methodologies, and although it's not completely new to the industry, I was surprised to see two of the presentations covering research methodologies that capture people's unconscious behavior through technology.

The first was a presentation about lifelogging, or “glogging” for those in the know. Simply put, lifelogging documents somebody's life through technology worn by the “respondent.”

Bob Cook from Firefish presented how this technology helps researchers better understand the tradeoffs that people constantly make. Lifelogging has a long history, and it was started by Steve Mann. In the early 1980s, he walked around with recording gear that looked more like a suit of armor.

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The Data Digest: Which Devices Have People Connected To Their TV

Reineke Reitsma

About 40% of US online adults now have a home theater audio system connected to their TVs, providing a better sound experience than the typical speakers connected to a PC or those built into a boom box. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that US consumers who have home theater systems take home entertainment seriously; they have a variety of entertainment devices, including set-top boxes, connected to their TVs.

 

More information can be found in the report 'Audio In The Home Is A Feature, Not A Device Category'.

The Data Digest: Online Payment Preferences In International Markets

Reineke Reitsma

I've been analyzing consumer technology uptake for years — helping retailers, for example, understand the barriers to and drivers of online buying behavior. Forrester's Technographics® research shows that preferred online payment methods differ greatly between countries, and companies need to understand this complexity of payment options and how that affects consumer behavior.

Unlike in North America, where the top payment methods tend to be similar in the countries surveyed (the US and Canada), the payment preferences of online buyers in Europe differ both between countries and from their North American counterparts. For example, the popularity of prepaid cards is unique to Italy: Roughly a third of Italian online users have taken advantage of prepaid cards. Global organizations need this detailed understanding of consumer payment preferences across markets in order to be successful internationally.

For more information: This week, Forrester published a report called “Understanding Online Payment Preferences In International Markets” that examines consumers' preferred payment methods in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific to help eBusinesses identify opportunities for payment localization.

Preferred payment options globally

The Data Digest: The State Of P2P File Sharing

Reineke Reitsma

This week my colleague James McQuivey published a report called 'Casual Video Piracy Kept At Bay For Now'. Forrester's Technographics research shows that online video piracy is a minority behavior. Just 7% of US online adults regularly engage in peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing, and less than half of them use it for video files. In fact, more people have given up on P2P file sharing than currently still do it.

 

Peer to Peer filesharing uptake

Another data point in this report revealed that everyone prefers a legal alternative. Our respondents were eager to reassure us that they prefer to use legal sites for watching videos, if these would give them a convenient way to serve their video needs.