ESOMAR, the World Association for Social, Opinion and Market Research is focused on encouraging, advancing and elevating market research. ESOMAR strives to enable better quality in the research of markets, consumers and societies. The aim of these 28 Questions is to increase transparency and raise awareness of the key issues for researchers to consider when deciding whether an online sampling approach is fit for their purpose.
Cint has created the world’s leading platform-based solution for online insight exchange and sample focused on:
- reach, global access, deep profiling;
- automation; and
Cint’s platform provides access to today’s research participant that:
- is highly opinionated, is informed and has high expectations;
- wants to receive and share information on-demand; and
- is always on, mobile and ever connected.
Cint’s online insight exchange marketplace connects carefully vetted panel providers with sample buyers. Essential to the Cint platform are the quality standards and controls built into its research quality-focused processes. Cint online sample buyers have full control, whether they choose ‘self-service’ (DIY), use API-based automation or retain and use Cint project managers who are trained to the highest research quality standards. All of Cint’s systems and procedures comply with the requirements set forth in Cint’s certification to ISO 20252, which includes Cint’s relentless focus on transparency for sample buyers.
This document sets forth Cint’s unique approach to fulfilling the needs of online sample buyers, always meeting or often exceeding the best practices objectives of these ESOMAR 28 Questions.
Cint’s business model offers a unique, transparent insight exchange that brings together buyers and sellers of research samples providing sample buyers with access to today’s research participant.
As a result of the unique way Cint builds supply within its insight exchange marketplace, sample buyers (clients) can reach over 25 million research participants (panelists) in more than 80+ countries in more than 1800 individual panels. Samples are generally purchased with Cint’s self-service solutions — Access or Access Pro — or occasionally via a managed services arrangement where Cint responds to a request for quotation and a Cint project manager executes and manages the project. Cint Access enables sample buyers to check feasibility, calculate pricing, set-up target groups, assess quotas, order sample and manage their fieldwork, all from an easy-to-use dashboard-based interface. Cint Access Pro extends these capabilities giving sample buyers total fieldwork control through to invoicing. Cint’s API-based automation also permits automation of the entire process from feasibility through invoicing.
Cint sources its sample ecosystem by bringing large and diverse sample sources to it’s online insight exchange marketplace. This sample ecosystem is based on a large number of double-opt in panels augmented by carefully selected and vetted supplemental panel-based sources. Using the Cint platform, panel owners can use our advanced panel management software, Cint Engage MR and Cint Engage Media, to set-up, recruit, manage and maintain panels and subpanels, for their own insights needs, as well as publish their panels for access by sample buyers.
Panel owners in the Cint platform include market research agencies, media owners, publishers (digital and traditional), non-profits and companies with access to large-scale web-traffic. All panels are double-opt-in (DOI), research-only, ISO compliant. As stated above, these are augmented by carefully selected and vetted supplemental panel-based sources. All Cint panels meet or exceed the best practices goals of these ESOMAR 28 Questions.
Cint offers API-based integration that permits survey software tool providers to integrate their software giving their users (sample buyers) direct access to Cint’s online insight exchange marketplace. As stated above, Cint also offers a more sophisticated set of demand-APIs, supported by a developer portal and tool-kit, allowing those sample buyers who want to, full access via APIs to Cint’s full feature set available in Cint Access for feasibility, pricing, quota management, and targeting.
Cint is also leading the research industry’s evolution to digital with a new suite of products led by Cint Connect that permits clients to connect deeply profiled research participants (panelists) and track their exposure to online advertising. Cint OpinionApp enables sample providers and sample buyers to leverage research participants (panelists) in the mobile environment.
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Cint empowers access to opinions by continually innovating the way market insight is gathered. Founded in 1998, Cint launched the industry’s first and only global online sample marketplace platform in 2005 called CPX. CPX has evolved into today’s industry-leading insight exchange marketplace .
Cint works with more than 1,000 clients in more than 60 countries, including the most widely recognized market research, media and PR agencies as well as leading digital end clients.
The number of projects we do year-over-year continues to grow rapidly. In the last 12 months, we ran approximately 27,000 projects in more than 80+ markets around the world. In addition to all the major developed markets, we also deliver services and projects to clients in markets that are still considered to be underdeveloped or emerging for online research, including South Africa, the Baltics and Latin America.
Through our innovative and exclusive technology and solutions, we enable sample buyers to easily access niche audience groups in many geographies that are not commonly found within traditional online panels. These include gamers, sports fans, mothers of children of certain ages, certain ethnicities, varied B2B audiences, professionals, health care providers and many, many others.
Our scope of work is broad. In partnership with Cint’s market research agency clients, we execute research for leading brands, retailers, CPG/FCMG firms, and companies from many different sectors in many markets. This includes a significant proportion of tracking work that has been running continuously for years.
Sample Sources and Recruitment
2. Please describe and explain the type(s) of online sample sources from which you get respondents. Are these databases? Actively managed research panels? Direct marketing lists? Social networks? Web intercept (also known as river) samples?
Panel owners in Cint’s insight exchange marketplace source panels through the following types of recruitment:
- Online recruitment using banners on different portals and websites
- Online recruitment through the owner’s portal which includes:
- Brand communities
- Editorial space (media and publisher sources)
- Email recruitment through a panel owner’s newsletters
- Specific invitations sent to a panel owner’s database
- Email recruitment by sending invitations to a permission-based database
- Social networks
- Loyalty web sites
- Affiliate traffic
- Active recruitment via telephone
- Active recruitment through face-to-face (F2F) interactions
Recruitment into Cint’s insight exchange marketplace typically takes place through a link to a specific registration page for a white-labeled, Cint-built landing page in the owner’s brand template or “look & feel”. After a panelist provides their contact details and consent, they are thanked and informed that they will receive an email with their account login details. Once this email is received, panel members ‘double opt- in’ by logging into their account and activating it. A new panelist is given the opportunity to verify their personal information, set the preferred frequency of survey invitation and is offered a series of initial profiling questions.
In the case where a panel owner has an active panel on a different system and decides to move it to Cint’s insight exchange marketplace , these existing panelists can easily be imported and their consent obtained. In the case that a potential panel owner has a list of contacts that have expressed interest in joining a panel, but haven’t been recruited as such, they are re-validated via email. This e-mail message contains their new panel account and login details as well as the link to their panel account page. In order to become a panel member, a prospective panelist must login and activate their account, complete the double opt-in process and provide their consent.
3. If you provide samples from more than one source: How are the different sample sources blended together to ensure validity? How can this be replicated over time to provide reliability? How do you deal with the possibility of duplication of respondents across sources?
Cint’s insight exchange marketplace permits sample buyers to determine specific custom sample blends. Sample selections based on custom sample blends are controlled by sampling algorithms developed using best practices sampling theory that ensures that both source bias and panel usage risks are minimized. These custom sample blends can easily be used and later reused to ensure consistent results. Cint uses a suite of proprietary technologies and controls that ensure that duplicates are not present in any online sample. Cint implements accepted industry-specific solutions such as RelevantID and can support solutions like TrueSample.
4. Are your sample source(s) used solely for market research? If not, what other purposes are they used for?
All panels within Cint’s insight exchange marketplace are only used for market research. When panelists register, they are informed that the panel is used exclusively for market research. Every panel in the online insight exchange marketplace complies with the best practices objectives of these ESOMAR 28 Questions. Users of Cint’s insight exchange marketplace (i.e. self-service or managed-service customers) are also required to sign an agreement that limits their use of the platform solely for market research purposes.
Cint’s insight exchange marketplace has a very large collection of panels in one place, recruited using different methods, from different sources, both online and offline. All panels are built by partnerships, whether an MR agency, media owner, publisher or digital company with access to members or traffic. This permits Cint unique reach into niche audience groups such as specialist patient or professional medical databases, mothers of children of a certain age, certain ethnic groups, and certain types of consumers. Panelists are profiled when they join a panel and then continuously over time, so a large variety of specific groups of interest can be targeted. Through Cint’s insight exchange marketplace, Cint Access and Access Pro permit sourcing from multiple panels with large volume. This makes it possible to find harder-to reach groups more easily than traditional online panels (which are typically composed of a limited number or sources). We also encourage panel owners to meet demand generated in Cint’s insight exchange marketplace for hard to reach groups by recruiting those groups. Cint also collaborates closely with these panel owners to continually build the total sourcing pool, to continue to build the leading marketplace for research sample.
6. If, on a particular project, you need to supplement your sample(s) with sample(s) from other providers, how do you select those partners? Is it your policy to notify a client in advance when using a third party provider?
Cint’s transparent model permits clients to see exactly where respondents originate. Sample buyers have transparency into every panel down to the panel brand, survey invite, incentive model and ‘blend’ of the sample. Cint always permits sample buyers the choice of how and from which unique panels they want to sample, allowing for single sourcing or sophisticated panel blending at a project level.
Cint’s insight exchange marketplace’s sample inventory can be extended by Cint through brokering third-party sample from outside the exchange marketplace. In cases where Cint sources panelists from third-party sources (subcontractors), this process is always performed in compliance with our ISO 20252-based processes as well as our policies on transparency. In a case where third party samples are used, sample buyers are always notified at the bidding stage and again when a job is commissioned. Cint always discloses which third parties it uses, and why.
Cint retains an accredited list of subcontractors that have been carefully vetted. Subcontractors are chosen based on their capabilities and quality control policies and procedures, and their compliance with Cint’s ISO 20252-based processes.
Sample buyers using Access Pro also have control over the fielding of third-party sample, putting complete control in their hands.
Sampling and Project Management
Cint’s platform permits sample buyers to select ‘census representativity’ on both survey send-outs and incoming completes. The platform automatically provides the correct allocation to achieve the proper distribution based on census data for the specific geography. A sample buyer can also choose to create custom allocations (including age, gender, etc.) on survey send-outs and incoming completes.
Deployed within Cint’s insight exchange marketplace is an integrated survey router and dynamic profiler called Cint Optimizer. Cint Optimizer increases panel reach and sample efficiency and addresses deficiencies in first generation stand-alone router systems, which can often result in poor panelist experience and higher panelist churn.
Cint Optimizer benefits include:
- Increased permission-based profiling, as Cint can easily store routing qualification data in a panel member’s profile. This results in the ability to better target sample.
- A superior optimization and routing experience for panelists as Cint Optimizer leverages existing profile information when matching a panelist to a survey, minimizing the number of qualifying questions and the time in the optimization and routing process.
- Keeps panel members incentivized, happy and continuing to take surveys.
The Cint Optimizer router can be controlled on both a source and project level. Use of the router by panel owners and sample buyers is only with their permission.
9. If you use a router: Please describe the allocation process within your router. How do you decide which surveys might be considered for a respondent? On what priority basis are respondents allocated to surveys?
Every panelist experience begins with a survey email initiation or other survey invitation with the panelist deciding to participate in a survey. If the panelist does not qualify for the intended survey (screened-out, quota full, etc.), Cint Optimizer will attempt to match the respondent to another open study by matching the stored profile of the respondent to available surveys. If there is a match, there are no qualifying questions asked. If there is a partial match, the panelist will be asked only the remaining qualifying questions. The panelist can opt-out at any time during the router experience. Survey allocation is randomized and all available studies or considered for selection.
10. If you use a router: What measures do you take to guard against, or mitigate, any bias arising from employing a router? How do you measure and report any bias?
We only deploy Cint Optimizer on surveys that are not likely to negatively affect the inventory of available routed traffic. The risk of router bias is mitigated by combining significant survey volume, survey randomization and a wide mix of target populations. Cint does not utilize routing methods that can create systematic prioritization of certain categories or surveys that would create bias. At sample buyer request, a full history of the routing process can be provided.
11. If you use a router: Who in your company sets the parameters of the router? Is it a dedicated team or individual project managers?
Specifically trained Cint project managers determine whether a specific survey will be included in Cint Optimizer and routing parameters are set by a centralized specifically trained set of system administrators. Only these administrators can view or change these parameters.
12. What profiling data is held on respondents? How is it done? How does this differ across sample sources? How is it kept up-to-date? If no relevant profiling data is held, how are low incidence projects dealt with?
Standard profile data stored includes: email address, name, address, phone numbers, gender, postal code, year of birth, education level, occupation and all panel specific profiling. Cint currently has a large set of standardized ‘global questions’ which are used across all panels and countries represented in Cint’s insight exchange marketplace. This provides detailed standardized data on panelists. These ‘global questions” include questions pertaining to: automotive preferences, healthcare, employment, travel, etc. This data is updated every time panelists make changes to their profile information, either proactively or through panel communications (profile surveys, newsletters, etc.) or respond to a survey where they are given an opportunity to complete additional questions from the global questions list.
In addition, Cint collects and makes available hundreds of additional profiling points that are based on sample buyer needs and/or market requirements. Profile points also vary and are customized to specific geographies.
13. Please describe your survey invitation process. What is the proposition that people are offered to take part in individual surveys? What information about the project itself is given in the process? Apart from direct invitations to specific surveys (or to a router), what other means of invitation to surveys are respondents exposed to? You should note that not all invitations to participate take the form of emails.
Survey email invitations are customized to a specific panel brand, connecting the panelist to the panel that they are a member of. All survey email invitation components required by ISO 20252 are included. These include:
- a general description of the purpose of the project;
- the estimated length of interview;
- a statement of the confidentiality and anonymity of each respondent’s responses;
- the closing date for completed responses (if applicable);
- access to full disclosure of incentive terms and conditions applying to the project;
- an explanation if the invitation is sent out on behalf of another research service provider;
- for panel members, the opportunity to unsubscribe or opt out of future research; and
Panelists can also be invited through other means including offers on panel partner websites.
All invitations to surveys include clear instructions whether the panelist is required to undertake a particular task, or is required to have a specific software or capability on their computer, mobile or other device as well as opt-out information and a support email address.
14. Please describe the incentives that respondents are offered for taking part in your surveys. How does this differ by sample source, by interview length, by respondent characteristics?
Cint’s insight exchange marketplace utilizes a reward system based on marketplace points. The number of points awarded is driven by the specific survey. On reaching a pre-determined redemption level set by the panel owner, panelists can redeem their rewards through different online payment partners linked to Cint’s insight exchange marketplace . Panelists can choose to receive their rewards in cash sent to their bank accounts (e.g. via PayPal), online shopping opportunities with one of multiple online merchants, or donations to a charity. Alternatively, the panel owner can opt to provide the panelist rewards directly. Incentive levels are set to encourage long-term participation and to discourage professional respondents who seek to take surveys only to obtain payment. A key feature that drives long-term participation is that panel owners choose an incentive model that works best for their members.
15. What information about a project do you need in order to give an accurate estimate of feasibility using your own resources?
- the demographics being sought (age, gender, regions, etc.);
- any non-demographic targeting or behavioral criteria necessary to qualify;
- any quotas or sub-quotas which need to be achieved;
- length of interview and the number of completes requested; and
- any additional sampling (deployment) criteria if applicable (i.e. census representative deployment or balanced send-outs).
Cint has deployed a panelist satisfaction program. Every panelist that completes a questionnaire has the opportunity to provide their feedback. They are asked a set of questions on survey length, logic, and language and are also able to give feedback via an open-end questions. This information is available to clients (sample buyers) within the platform.
Cint also undertakes its own internal ‘research-on-research’ that covers panelist engagement, satisfaction and fatigue drivers to determine the associated solutions. This research is shared with panel owners and utilized in Cint’s internal quality program.
For each project, we provide standard information on number of responses, status of responses (i.e. completes, screen outs, quota full and drop outs) as well as average length of interview and incidence rate.
Data Quality and Validation
18. Who is responsible for data quality checks? If it is you, do you have in place procedures to reduce or eliminate undesired within survey behaviors, such as (a) random responding, (b) Illogical or inconsistent responding, (c) overuse of item non-response (e.g. “Don’t Know”) or (d) speeding (too rapid survey completion)? Please describe these procedures.
Cint has a dedicated quality assurance team that is responsible for maintenance and advancement of the quality of Cint’s products and services. Through its ISO 20252-based quality program, Cint deploys project and company-wide procedures that result in products and services of the highest quality.
Cint generally does not host the questionnaires used for data collection. Accordingly, Cint works with sample buyers (clients) to have them deploy appropriate validation checks, including but not limited to: analysis of questionnaire completion time, data outliers, unanswered questions and patterned responses. We further encourage our sample buyers to add straight-lining traps, red herring questions and other data quality checks to their surveys. Panelists that do not pass agreed-upon checks do not qualify as completes and do not qualify for an incentive. If a sample buyer reports cheaters in a survey, Cint project managers remove these from the survey and alert the Panel Operations department. The Panel Operations department will then alert the panel owner (with the list of impacted panelist IDs). Cint also maintains a record of these IDs internally. After a panelist receives “three strikes,” they are removed from Cint’s insight exchange marketplace.
Every panelist invited to a study is put into a quarantine system. This ensures a panelist cannot be invited to a study beyond the frequency level agreed to by Cint and the panel owner.
19. How often can the same individual be contacted to take part in a survey within a specified period whether they respond to the contact or not? How does this vary across your sample sources?
Cint monitors the frequency of participation of all panel members. Every panelist is also given a score based on their responsiveness.
Cint’s insight exchange marketplace holds detailed data for each panelist about the surveys that they have participated in; therefore, a panelist can easily be included or excluded in a specific survey. Each panel owner can choose a desired ‘quarantine period’ (i.e. the time between survey invitations) to ensure panelists do not receive too many survey invitations.
Regardless of sample source, Cint’s operational policies allow for one invite and one reminder to a single survey opportunity. Typical lockout periods before an invitation to another survey opportunity is seven days, but this can be vary based upon the geography and panel.
20. How often can the same individual take part in a survey within a specified period? How does this vary across your sample sources? How do you manage this within categories and/or time periods?
Depending on the quarantine settings on both the panel and the panelist, the range is once a month to three times per week.
As the sample buyer would expect, a panelist may only complete a specific survey once. Deduplication, re-use and the lockout period for quota-fulls or terminates are set on a per-project basis based on sample buyer preference. The default allows no re-entry once an official status (complete, terminate, etc.) is achieved. For tracking surveys, de-duplication, re-use or lockout period for subsequent waves is set according to sample buyer preference.
21. Do you maintain individual level data such as recent participation history, date of entry, source, etc., on your survey respondents? Are you able to supply your client with a project analysis of such individual level data?
Cint’s insight exchange marketplace saves detailed research participation data which includes: panelist join date, last participation date, transaction history on all surveys, redemptions, reward points transactions, etc. As Cint strictly complies with all applicable data protection laws and regulations, data is never made available unless the panelist provides consent and the practice is permitted by applicable laws and regulations.
Cint’s insight exchange marketplace automatically ensures that all panelists are ‘quarantined’ after participating in a survey, meaning they cannot be sent another survey for a defined period of time. The standard quarantine period in Cint’s online exchange platform is seven days; however, this can vary by panelist, panel owner, panel and geography.
Cint utilizes an indexing system that gives each panelist a score depending on how active their survey participation is. The participation history is recorded along with exclusion information.
Cint’s insight exchange marketplace has advanced subject-category quarantine capabilities that are available to those sample buyers who require it. Panelists can also be excluded from future surveys by excluding previous projects when selecting sample.
Cint can provide participation history reports to sample buyers on request.
22. Do you have a confirmation of respondent identity procedure? Do you have procedures to detect fraudulent respondents? Please describe these procedures as they are implemented at sample source registration and/or at the point of entry to a survey or router. If you offer B2B samples what are the procedures there, if any?
Cint’s technology includes a range of capabilities to deal with professional/ duplicate respondents. Cint’s insight exchange marketplace identifies and excludes multiple panel respondents both through email address and by name. Postal address and bank data is also investigated if the incentive payment method supports this. Specific, secure survey links are also used. Cint implements accepted industry-specific solutions such as RelevantID and can support solutions like TrueSample.
Cint has a Panel Quality team that continuously analyzes panel data to identify ‘fraudulent’ or ‘inattentive’ panelists. Panelist status is updated in cooperation with the panel owner.
As all research stakeholders would agree, quality of response is also affected by the quality of the questionnaire. Accordingly, Cint project managers provide feedback to sample buyers regarding potential issues that could affect fieldwork, both before project launch and upon project completion.
Policies and Compliance
At the time of panel recruitment, panelists are made aware of the purpose of the panel (i.e. to take part in market research). When a panelist is invited to a survey, they are informed about the confidential nature of their responses and given the opportunity to ‘opt out’. As part of the registration process, panelists are asked to complete key profiling questions, including a confirmation of their consent to join the panel. Upon confirmation, the panelist receives an automated email sent to the email address provided in the registration process, requiring them to double opt-in to the panel. The email contains a link within it, as well as a user name and password. The link will direct them back to the panelist site, hosted by Cint where the panelist signs in with their username and password.
Cint complies with all applicable data protection laws and regulations. Cint also requires that all panel owners comply with all applicable law and regulation. Cint implements accepted information security best practices.
Cint’s data protection and information security practices are in compliance with ISO 20252 and applicable research industry codes including ESOMAR and CASRO. Specific information is included below.
- Access to project information is only granted to the user who creates each project
- Users are automatically logged off after a given period of non-activity
- Users must sign in using a username and password
- Secure survey links are deployed
- Respondents are given access to their surveys by GUIDS (globally unique identifiers)
Panel management security:
- Access panel and panelist information is only granted to the company who owns the panel. This does not include any personally identifiable data.
- Users are automatically logged off after a given period of non-activity
- Cint implements accepted information security best practices
- The Cint SaaS environment has been designed with security, high-availability and performance in mind
- All servers, networks and services are monitored 24/7 by both Cint and our hosting partners with infrastructure support teams continually available
- Deployment of Secure Sockets Layers (SSL) for all sampling, panel management and critical panelist information.
26. What practices do you follow to decide whether online research should be used to present commercially sensitive client data or materials to survey respondents?
Cint performs a quality check on every survey before it is made available to panelists.
Project managers thoroughly test survey links for:
- correct implementation of re-directs;
- appropriate survey logic;
- appropriate language;
- accurate quota set up;
- appropriate interview length;
- whether or not there is any personal, sensitive or prohibited questions being asked;
- whether or not panelists can choose a ‘prefer not to answer’ option with any income or ethnicity questions; and
- overall quality.
If any item in the questionnaire or its fielding are not in compliance with Cint’s quality standards, the project manager will promptly communicate with the client (sample buyer) making recommendations for any necessary changes. All such interactions are logged.
If the survey contains any sensitive material or content, it is clearly cited in the survey invitation and, where appropriate within the survey, giving panelists the opportunity to opt-out.
Panelist obligations with respect to sensitive material or content are included in panelist Terms and Conditions agreements that every panelist needs to agree to. All violations are promptly addressed.
As stated above, Cint is certified to ISO 20252 and complies with ISO 26362 where possible. Cint has a Quality team that works with all departments to ensure that all requirements are met. Accordingly, Cint can ensure that all controls and procedures for project execution meet the requirements of ISO 20252 and where possible, ISO 26326.
- organisational structure and responsibilities;
- confidentiality of research;
- research documents and records management;
- outsourcing of services;
- project management;
- recruitment measures;
- access panel structure and size;
- access panel management;
- access panel usage;
- client reporting;
- data collection, validation, management and processing; and
- professional rules of conduct.
Cint complies with all applicable data protection laws and regulations. Cint also complies with the codes and guidelines of ESOMAR, CASRO, MRA and applicable national market research associations. Further, Cint has put in place procedures to ensure high quality services from our partners and subcontractors.
In addition, panel owners must comply with ESOMAR and CASRO codes, all applicable data protection laws and regulations and Cint’s ISO 20252-based quality program. Panel owners are required to inform panelists that any personal information gathered is kept strictly confidential and is never passed onto a third party without the panelist’s permission, and that all information is used for market research only and that panelists can opt-out at any time.
28. Do you conduct online surveys with children and young people? If so, do you adhere to the standards that ESOMAR provides? What other rules or standards, for example COPPA in the United States, do you comply with?
Cint complies with all applicable laws and regulations with respect to conducting surveys with children, only performing online surveys with children and young people after receiving parental consent.