Online research offers exciting new possibilities

LogoinsightStacey and I went to the Insight Show at Earls court yesterday to have a look around and see what new methodologies and developments are on offer today.   We were focused on online research since we have been moving our own tools into the online area as it seems to save cost, allow us to reach new audiences and creates speedier delivery.

But we found consistent with our own recent experiences, the online tools are now moving from being cheaper and quicker to being better and more effective.

One of the presenters, powerfully made the point that the research business has itself to blame for the slow development of online work.  He showed an image of the Amazon website in 1996 and contrasted this with the tools and capabilities of the 2006 version.  Whereas a look at a survey in 1996 showed not much difference from one in 2006.  We are all still putting face to face techniques and paper questionnaires onto a screen.

But things seem to be changing.  We noticed three powerful trends (of which we have used one and are developing the second)

  1. Introduction of flash tools to create much more intuitive survey formats that allow respondents to interact with the packs, the brands the images and the films in a way to creates a better and more useful response than can be obtained in traditional ways.
  2. Significant developments in the scope and penetration of online panels allowing recruitment of previously difficult to reach markets such as wealthier consumers and business decision makers. 
  3. The creation of virtual panels to allow you to have continuous and direct feedback from customers.  This is less structured and might have the purist screaming "unreliable" and "not validated" but the directness can be very powerful.  See Virtual Surveys
  4. New possibilities to do qualitative in ways that are quicker easier to view and analyse.