By: Jake Wolff
For the purposes of imagery please know that this blog was written in old khakis, and a flannel, sitting in a tiny coffee shop. Many pauses were taken to look up and contemplate life, while scratching my unshaven face.
Considering I am still fairly new to the industry I wanted to give my somewhat naive perspective on a few commonalities that have been thrown around most of the conferences and meetings I have attended…
At some point during an early interaction with a peer of the MR world I usually get asked how I got into the industry. At which point I know I am about to hear about what a small, incestuous industry it is. I myself have said this to newer members of the MR world, because half the time I believed it and the other half I thought it was what I was supposed to tell new people! As a sales rep for Cint this was easy to believe. I had at my fingertips, local knowledge from 50+ countries and was regularly educating clients on the behaviors of the general populations of countries I had never previously given more than two seconds thought to. Cint had essentially shrunk the globe into one tight knit community of amazingly accessible online MR experts, add on top the stories of the glory days at previous firms (yaaaawn- sorry guys) it seemed like in fact this was a very small industry.
However, a recent change of my role within Cint has me thinking entirely different. Part of my current position tasks me with representing North American interests in global discussions around our Sales and Ops policies. Having these conversations makes me feel like this industry is too expansive to tame. When I hear of the accepted approach and industry beliefs that come out of countries like Norway and Sweden and Japan it sounds like we work in entirely different fields. At time there is literal disbelief when we communicate how each of our respective clients and panel owners expect business to be done.
More importantly it has made me feel that a second often hyped perspective is no longer accurate, this being the speed at which the industry changes. At every conference someone is sure to make some brutal comparison about how slow moving the MR world is: “The MR industry is like a tanker!! Very slow to turn”, “The MR industry conventions are like candle conventions, when someone out there should be thinking about inventing the light bulb!!” and on and on. Maybe my timing is just impeccable and I came into this space when the tanker is at its exact shift but I really don’t see it that way. A ton is happening in the online data collection space, and I think more quickly than people give it credit for.
There are innovative new supply sources, sources that bridge the gap between traditional double-opt-in (DOI) and river sampling. Sources that are now profiling single opt-in respondents. Sources like SwagBucks and Peanut Labs that are pushing the envelope as to what can be done with instant traffic. Companies like Survey Monkey are proving that through technology market research can be nimble, cost effective and keep up with the pace of the changing consumer. Eye Track Shop and Affinnova are using technology to dramatically increase the amount of usable data they can extract from a respondent in a single sitting.
For me though, the most exciting example is what is happening within Cint. In 2013 alone we introduced technology that within months entirely changed our client’s perceptions of DIY sampling. In the US during Q4 over 50% of our respondents will be procured via our online platform marketplace, without a single email asking for feasibility, pricing or redirects. This represents a massive shift over an extremely short period of time. Very recently we released Cint Optimizer, a next-generation, completely fresh and quality driven approach to routing while at the same time dynamically profiling hundreds of panels within our exchange. Our panel owners immediately jumped on board and saw the value of this great tool regardless of how new and different the approach was. 2014 is shaping up to be more of the same. When I sit in the meetings I feel the strategy centers around staying ahead of a rapidly moving, technology driven industry that every day is releasing innovations designed around using technology for efficiency gains.
I guess in a best effort to wrap this up in a single thought; with the widespread pressures to shrink bottom lines and do more with less, if you still view the industry as small and stagnant you may be working for the wrong company.
Thanks for the time and have a fantastic end to the year!