Brand Channeler

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With Google Consumer Surveys, look before you leap

by Andrea List

Market research firms, take heed. In its continued efforts to infiltrate every facet of our lives – both personal and professional – Google has now made its way into the business of consumer insights with the launch of Google Consumer Surveys.


This new platform allows users to create short and simple online surveys, which Google posts on its publishers’ websites. Before a reader can gain access to a publishers’ content, he or she must agree to answer a quick survey, thus creating a “surveywall” blocking access to exclusive content. Perhaps more of a money-making venture for publishers than an insights tool for marketers, Google Consumer Surveys will be an attractive solution for cash-strapped brands looking to poll consumers. At only $0.10 per respondent, brands aren’t likely to suffer sticker shock.


But before delving into quick-and-dirty consumer market research – so quick and dirty, in fact, that demographic information about respondents is merely approximated based on IP address – brands would be wise to consider the following:


Media are likely to be skeptical. If you’re planning to share your results with media, don’t be surprised if they aren’t willing to listen. Many of the nation’s most prominent media are already distrustful of online survey methodologies, even when conducted by professional market research firms. Preferring to stand by more “tried and true” telephone sampling methods – which have problems of their own – media aren’t likely to take to an online methodology that cuts out the research firm and rests solely in the hands of the brand. Google Consumer Surveys will have to overcome a lot of cynicism before proving its veracity to media.


Turn-key, DIY solutions are no substitute for a skilled research practitioner. Much of a survey’s success lies within the questionnaire design and the populations sampled. To avoid biasing results, researchers have to consider everything from question wording and order to biases inherent within respondent samples. A seasoned researcher is trained to avoid these and other common pitfalls, ensuring results are accurate and generalizable across large populations.


If anything, the launch of Google Consumer Surveys is a confirmation of the credibility and efficacy a survey can bring to market research, but we should approach with caution. By lowering the barrier for entry, and removing the professional researcher from the equation, we risk overuse, poor technique and specious results. Before using Google Consumer Surveys, or any other survey platform, be sure to at least seek advice from a skilled market research professional who can help guide you through the consumer insights process.


--Andrea List, Insights Supervisor, @AndreaList




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