Hey big brands, are you aware of this?

I followed up to my flamethrower tell all blog of 4 years ago, on GreenBook. Viewable HERE.

In it I relay a conversation with an agency owner, who scrutinizes the data files they receive. Crazy, no?

Last week this same person bcc’d me on a testy thread with a different supplier (a big survey firm who outsources the sample). That file also riddled with bots, dupes, something. How many of you/ us actually dive into the scrutiny?

Last month, another agency president I know, in the health care space, told me a story. The sample shop (a major) flew in for an in person, earlier this year. Rigorous QA was promised, repeatedly. They were hired for their 1st sample job with them. Data file scrutinized. 15% duplicates, another 10% gibberish open ends. ZERO QA on the data file. Agency PM’s are doing UNPAID QA on sample files, if they are indeed doing that. This is insane.

Using a sales demo for Continuing Ed credit…?

This happened a couple years ago. I had a gig at a qual software firm. Doing sales, which meant triage for inbound leads. A lead came in, a qualie from Australia. She asked me to send invite for a demo, which I did. She no-showed, twice. Each time she sent frantic apology email an hour later, saying she had manually adjusted my invite to fit her time zone. Yes, odd; as calendars do that automatically. Which I explained to her, twice.

The kicker though was when she sent increasingly forceful email requests stating that since she was trying to view a demo, would I please just send her a separate note thanking her for attending? I asked why, and she said: “because I will claim that hour for my continuing ed certification.” I said nay, I’m not going to do that.

To which she replied: “Just keep in mind Scott, that this is a small industry” which was apparently some kind of threat? If this is a small industry, why confirm a lie to me, in writing…? Sidebar: MR is a big industry, but why quibble.

I’m a fan of continuing ed, the legit kind. Ergo, it’s sad & weird to me she’s feigning interest in company products just to get an hour’s credit.

Online Sample Quality – 4 years later

In January 2015, GreenBook published my observations of several years of a front row seat within the online sample business. That article broke some glass, opened doors, generated more articles, gave me my 15 minutes, etc…life moved on.

Except…a few times a year, still; someone reaches out to me, either to thank me or to commiserate. Moreover, three panel firms reached out to me along the way, to show how they’re tackling the quality issue(s).

So, what triggered this follow up? 3 months ago, the head of a (non-USA) MR firm reached out to me. Their firm is experiencing issues finding quality sample sources. In fact, they were running their own in-house set of parallels on a tracker, various sources (Google, Survata, trad, programmatic) to approach the issue with rigor. We got to talking.

Sidebar: they were at an industry conference last year and said a sales rep was proudly offering ‘$1 CPI’s.’ I guess it had to happen. Maybe it’s been happening for a long time; I don’t monitor CPI’s anymore.

Righto then, during their RoR tracker source scrutiny, numerical scores came in consistent. So that’s good. On a subsequent regular study soon after, the supplier (a major) presented a data set infested with ridiculousness (at least 1/3 of the records were bogus). The bad apples were only spotted via open end comments by the way. I was forwarded the supplier’s apology slash explanation. An excerpt is below.

Our sincere apologies for the fraud that occurred on these projects. We have gone ahead and blocked those users on our end so they won’t be able to complete any more surveys.

We can confirm that some of those completes are from the same person creating multiple accounts on our panel, using different IP addresses and completing the study over and over again. User has different information on file for each account and user passed all of our security checks as well as a third parties security checks that we use for additional insurance against this type of behavior. While other cases are of users who were casual in their responses.

We have gone ahead and blocked those users on our end so they won’t be able to complete any more surveys. Also, we are currently researching the recruitment source this user came in from and trying to find more information there to make sure this individual or similar other ones can no longer enter and create multiple accounts without being detected.

A few points.

  • Note the issue was spotted ONLY via open end comment questions. Most MR surveys don’t have even one. I’ve advocated forever: have at least one OE! For this very reason. Also, I received the raw data file of the bad apples, including IP addresses, which are different (the gibberish repeats though).
  • The “user has different information on file for each account” and “passed security checks / 3rd party checks.” Yes. Well. At least they’re trying? I’ve talked to the folks involved with identity verifications and related checks, and they’re passionate & committed to this topic, as much or more than anyone. And their tech works. I absolutely advocate their usage, if this stuff matters to you too. One bad apple finding their way in will spoil the bunch, yes, ergo add an OE or something similar to ID them. And use these other firms to support your efforts. At least have a chat with them and let them make their case to you.
  • Good quality costs. The downward spiral of CPI pricing ensures you’ll receive the inverse. So pay the extra buck or three to your panel provider(s)! Stress why you’re doing this budgetary alignment to your customers, be they internal or external. Otherwise, this is like going to a restaurant and ordering the cheapest item on the menu, expecting it to also be the best item on the menu. Why do we do this?
  • It’s far too easy to blame sample suppliers for this larger issue. Too easy, and misguided. Are you managing upward communication with your buyers, with the simple messaging of ‘quality costs here, just like everything else in life?’ I know we do when discussing the project plan in general. Kudos to those who emphasize with their buyers that care in opinion sourcing (may) mean paying a premium for it. In lieu of that, deliverables may be delayed for manual QA along the way. Automation is great in many ways, including QA, but the old school eyeball QA method is still hard to beat.

Thanks for reading this belated follow up. Always happy to chat with others interested in this topic. Lately I’ve been getting up to speed on what may be a new methodology for the MR / Insights space. Hope to be writing about that later this year. Thank you!

The Power of Geofencing and How to Add It to Your Marketing

Originally published by Amanda DiSilvestro 

Mobile marketing has been taken to the next level with geofencing, which gives companies the ability to advertise specifically to potential customers within a certain geographic radius. Geofencing constructs a virtual boundary around a business location using a combination of technologies, including:

  • GPS
    The Global Positioning System is a network of satellites orbiting the earth that can triangulate an individual’s location to an accurate degree.
  • Radio frequency identifiers
    Bluetooth technology contains small computer chips that use radio waves to connect with each other.Beacon technology works with location services in smartphones and alerts apps when you approach or leave a location. It uses a Bluetooth signal that can tell when you’re close to a beacon, such as a checkout counter in a retail store.

While geofencing has actually been around for a while, the popularity of smartphones and mobile devices now makes it incredibly valuable as a marketing tool for business owners.

Geofencing offers a world of possibilities for mobile users, from interactive shopping lists (and reminders to pick up milk) to home security systems, garage door openers, automatic coffee pots, limited-time offers for your favorite restaurant, or a suggestion for a new restaurant you haven’t tried before. For marketers, the focus is on push notifications and mobile advertisements that can be tied to a business location.

There is no doubt that hyper-targeted, location-based marketing is going to be the next big thing in digital marketing. Now is the time to get started. Let’s first look at the benefits of geofencing, and then we’ll discuss how you can be a proactive marketer with this technology.

The Power of Geofencing and How to Add It to Your Marketing

3 Benefits of Geofencing for Marketing

Continue reading

My retail experience of buying a new phone

I bought a new phone yesterday. My Nexus worked fine but the battery wasn’t holding a charge for long. Did the research and decided on a droid noted for it’s larger battery (LG Power X).customerserviceform-56a82fb55f9b58b7d0f16361

Anyhoo, had one of the most fun retail experience ever. The 3 store employees were a riot, and happy to see me, high fives upon entry, etc (I called ahead to ensure the model was in stock). It was genuine, and it was impressive.

But that’s not the story. The store manager asked me about my work. I’m involved in customer feedback surveys I replied. We got to talking about that, for a long time. Specifically, the pressure they’re under to receive 9s & 10s from their surveyed customers. More to the point, and the reason I decided to write this, is because he handed me a postcard sized cheat sheet that he and team provide to their customers, essentially how to fill out the survey. I was tempted to add the pic here, but the font is tiny and the carrier is ID’d and that won’t help anyone.

There was a snippet of the questions, with a column added at the end, reading:

10=A, 9=B, 8-7=D, 6-1=F.

The manager and I talked at length about how the postcard, employee pressure and extreme rating curve corrupts the feedback process. I recall when I bought my current car years ago from the dealer, I was given this similar flyer (and received a tense phone call from the regional manager weeks later as I gave the dealer 7s & 8s). In fact I’ve received many ‘helper’ survey cards from retailers. Have you as well?

More than a bit depressing, when hard working employees are considered poor or worse when they receive a 7 or 6 on a survey. And doesn’t reflect all that well on the consumer & retail feedback space, which many of us in market research are directly involved in. Do our obligations end when we design, sell, and manage a survey project? Shouldn’t we involve ourselves beyond that, re implementation, training, encouraging the removal of the stick from the carrot and stick, etc?

What do you think?

Mobile Menace: You’ve been infected! Or have you?

Posted October 3, 2016 by

In the mobile world, most of us have become accustomed to installing apps that display ads in exchange for the them being free. Most ads aren’t too annoying, and for the price it is worth having them displayed. It’s a fair compromise—until the ad servers display something along the lines of “You’ve been INFECTED!!!”.

Ad networks, a scammer’s dream

Just the other day, while me and my family are here in Portugal on holiday (well, holiday for them while I work remotely), my in-law got one of these ads:


Since we are in Portugal, the ads are all in Portuguese. This particular ad roughly translates as:

Active alert

Your attention is necessary. Touch to read now.

With the ad covering the whole screen and only a little “x” to close it in the corner, it’s pretty easy to accidentally click the ad which opens your browser to a webpage, which is exactly what happened to my in-law while playing the game, Baby Flash Cards, with our toddler.  Suddenly, her browser opened to this scary pop-up:

keep reading

How Pokémon Go Is Helping This Pizza Joint Rake in Tons of Money

Written by:

Jelisa Castrodale

Unless you’ve spent the past week living under a very large rock, you’re probably aware of Pokémon Go, the ridiculously popular augmented reality game from Nintendo and Niantic Labs. In the ten days since its U.S. release, Pokémon Go has become the biggest mobile game in U.S. history. Considering the game has an estimated 21 million daily users (and counting), even if you have been under a rock, there’s a good chance someone is currently lifting it to see if there’s a Diglett hiding underneath it.

Part of the game’s appeal is that it populates the map with real-life locations, turning the White House into the world’s most powerful gym and forcing Arlington National Cemetery to ask players to please stop throwing Pokéballs on its grounds. Although Pokémon Go is driving would-be Charizard catchers to historic sites they haven’t thought about since their eighth grade field trip, it has also transformed restaurants, parks and otherwise unremarkable architectural features into sought-after gyms and PokéStops.

Restaurants and bars featured in the game have seen significant sales increases; the owner of L’inizio’s Pizza Bar in Queens said their food and drink sales jumped by 30% last weekend, all thanks to Pokémon Go. (And the sudden popularity of one sketchy restaurant in my own neighborhood just proves that Snorlax doesn’t care about sanitation ratings).

Although some restaurant managers are irritated by their popularity with Pokémon hunters (one Lexington, Kentucky lunch spot angrily insists that its Pokémon are for paying customers only), the majority seem to be doing what they can to capitalize on the increased foot traffic, whether that means spending a few real-life bucks to attach lure modules to their PokéStops or offering discounts to anyone who snags a Pokémon on the property.

We caught up with Nicole Spirito, the general manager of Flying Saucer Pizza Company in Salem, Massachusetts, who has fully embraced the phenomenon—particularly its financial benefits.

MUNCHIES: What has the past week been like at Flying Saucer?
Nicole Spirito, general manager of Flying Saucer Pizza Company
We’re very, very fortunate. We love the Pokémon Go players and they love us. We embrace nerd culture and all-around weirdness, in every aspect of life.

How did you find out that Flying Saucer was a PokéStop?
A good portion of my staff – myself included – downloaded Pokémon Go the second that it launched and right away we saw all of this data with us as a central hub. One of our longtime regulars beta-tested the game before it was released and [the developers] ported a bunch of that beta-ed information into Pokémon Go. We kind of had this insider track and were fortunate to get put on the map by our customer.

Did you have any idea how that would affect the restaurant?
As soon as I saw that, I thought ‘We’ve got to capitalize on that.’ I thought it would be so cool that people would be out wandering around, catching Pokémon and reliving the nostalgia.

How much has it affected your business?
I actually crunched some numbers to see if I could put some tangibles on it. We’re looking at an unprecedented increase in sales.

Can you put a real number on that?
Conservatively, we’re looking at an 18% increase in sales. We looked at week-to-week data and data from the same time last year, taking in factors like weather, holidays and traffic. Applying that information, we’re looking at an 18% increase, and the main differentiator is Pokémon Go.

Have you spent any money on the game? Have you paid for lure modules or anything like that?
We’ve spent $0 so far, because [the game players] are here already. Flying Saucer is in such a central location for Pokémon Go players. There are three or four PokéStops within range of our bar, so you could sit at our bar, have a beverage and hit four different PokéStops.

So Flying Saucer is, for lack of a better term, a nerd-friendly space?
Yeah, actually it’s one of the things I love about this restaurant. We have a ton of art from Star Wars and Star Trek. We have an entire Doctor Who wall with an artist-painted TARDIS on it. We were definitely positioned for something like [Pokémon Go]. It seems like it was made for us.

You seem to know your customer base well. Would you say that most of the Pokémon Go players are regulars or are they just people who stop in to see what they can catch before leaving?
It’s been both. I definitely have my loyal customer base that has been coming, but we’re also seeing an incredibly high number of people who have never been here before, people that have never heard of us before. Some people literally sit here for four or five hours. They come in, they eat, they enjoy, they take a little break outside in the park, but they stay right around in this area and then they pop back in for a beer.

The same customers are coming back again the same day?
Yeah. We’re seeing people coming in two or three times a day. It doesn’t hurt that everyone loves pizza, so it’s a great combo.

Has anyone caught any rare Pokémon inside the restaurant?
We’ve had a wild Blastoise, which is very rare. [She pauses to confirm this with another manager]. This is where it goes outside my own personal knowledge.

Did you play the original Pokémon game yourself?
I played it on a casual level when I was younger. I have a couple of employees who were all about it then, and as Pokémon Go exploded, we all took a trip down memory lane and got involved again.

Most of your employees are also playing the game?
Oh yeah. I’d say about 95% of our employees are actively playing.

What’s the highest ranking trainer on your staff?
Level 19. We’re not just talking the talk here.

What is your trainer level?
It’s shameful, but I’m only a Level 4 right now. A lot of my staff are all telling me ‘When you get to Level 5, you have to pick this team, because it’s the best.’ I’ll get there for sure, but right now, I want to focus on making this the best experience possible for Pokémon Go players.

This interview has been been edited for length and clarity.

Google is geofencing…

This is not breaking news: Google Consumer Surveys (GCS) is offering real deal geofencing, globally. It is a recent development though. From a coverage standpoint, is there competition? Geofencing triggered mobile surveying in all corners of the world. Working technology + a whole lot of traffic. I do know that global brands have already signed on. The project minimum fee is an order of magnitude higher than historical project minimums. Not an obstacle for a large international project. In fact, it’s a smart strategy. Why not? No competition, and it works.

Anyhoo, other thoughts on this, from those working (or sponsoring) in this space?

“Mobile is Devouring the World”

Originally published in Ad Age.

Dunkin’ Donuts CMO Discusses the Risky Move to Mobile Loyalty

Q&A with John Costello: ‘Mobile is Devouring the World’

It’s not often that a company with locations on street corners throughout much of the U.S. takes a big risk by changing the status quo when the status quo ain’t broke. But that’s exactly what Dunkin’ Donuts did when it shelved its web- and paper-based loyalty program like so many day-old crullers.

“We decided to go all-in on a mobile-based loyalty program,” said the company’s Chief Global Customer and Marketing Officer John Costello.

The result was a re-launched version of the DD Perks Rewards program, which focused on tying together the mobile and in-store experiences for customers, introduced in January 2014. The original program launched in 2011, and its mobile-centric iteration includes around 3 million members.

“Mobile is devouring the world,” said Mr. Costello, who helped Dunkin’ come to the decision to shift its loyalty program to become mobile-centric. Mr. Costello is also chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association’s global board of directors.

Ad Age discussed the motives behind the move to mobile loyalty, and the challenges that lie ahead for the 65-year-old Massachusetts-based morning fuel hub.

Ad Age: When Dunkin’ Donuts decided to put its paper- and web-based loyalty program on hold in order to revamp it as a mobile-centric program, what factors went into making that decision? Were some executives concerned it was too big a risk to take?

Mr. Costello: We decided to re-focus the loyalty program as a mobile-centric program because the world is changing rapidly and mobile devices are evolving from smartphones to a remote control for your life. The key factors that drove the decision to focus our efforts on developing a mobile-centric program were ensuring that the DD Perks loyalty program was customer-focused, fast and enhanced the in-store environment.

It was a big risk to invest millions of dollars to develop a world-class mobile app, which is the foundation of our successful DD Perks program. Even though our business was doing well, we forced ourselves to change and adopt new technologies without knowing if it would work. This was a cross-functional decision that included members from marketing, IT, operations and our franchisees.

Ad Age: Connecting a branded app experience to the in-store experience in a relevant and relatively seamless way is easier said than done. How has Dunkin’ Donuts done that and what does it need to work on?

Mr. Costello: “America Runs on Dunkin'” is more than a slogan; it’s really our brand purpose which is to help get you running in the morning and keep you running all day long. As a result, speed of service is very important to the Dunkin’ customer, particularly in the morning. We needed to build a loyalty program that is very fast both in-store and at the drive-thru because a significant portion of our business is at the drive-thru. We did a lot of operational testing at the store level with our franchisees to make sure that the DD Perks program is customer friendly, very fast and did not overcomplicate in-store operations. The second thing we did is form a cross-functional task force that included members from marketing, IT, operations, training and franchisees to make sure that we had the right training in place for our store employees and ongoing training as we introduce new features.

Both DD Perks and the Dunkin’ Mobile App are easy to use and fit seamlessly into our guests’ Dunkin’ Donuts experience and daily routine. We made it simple for guests to enroll cards already in their DD Mobile App into the loyalty program.The combination of customer focus, constant learning and the close tie to the in-store environment all contribute to the success we are seeing, and the program will continue to evolve as we receive consumer and franchisee feedback.

Ad Age: You seem to believe mobile is really important from a data standpoint. Why?

Mr. Costello: We actually make efforts to minimize how much data we collect from customers, and use it only for the purpose of improving our customer service experience. For this purpose, the data we collect is extremely important and beneficial. For example, we’ve been able to use data to promote localized offers through the Dunkin’ Mobile App. Consumers have responded very well to these localized offers and when we launched the DD Perks program, we started to target our guests with valuable offers right away to drive incremental spend and visits. This targeting will become more refined as we continue to test new methods and analyze the data looking at how each guest is behaving.

As a result of our investment in technology initiatives, today we have more robust data on our guests’ transactions than we have ever had in the past and we’re using it to change guests’ behavior. We are able to track our guests’ behavior and engage with them on a one-to-one, individualized basis. We have created members segments for our DD Perks members and we are now targeting our members with offers relevant to both their segmentation and their individual behavior.

Ad Age: Nearly 3 million people are members of the DD Perks program but 11 million have downloaded the app. Surely you’d like all of the people who have downloaded the app to join the loyalty program. Where’s the disconnect and how do you plan to change that?

Mr. Costello: We recognize that there is zero barrier to download the Dunkin’ Mobile App and to enroll in the DD Perks loyalty program you must purchase a DD Card. This is the barrier and we do look to close the gap. The DD Perks program will be an important driver of long-term growth for Dunkin’ Donuts and we are pleased with our current progress.


MetrixLab / Macromill Merger

Originally published via Greenbook

Today it was announced that Netherlands-based global research firm MetrixLab and Asia-Pac research technology behemoth Macromill are merging. The combined company will be the largest new-generation research organization in the world.

Here is an excerpt from the press release with the details and an outline of their vision, which should make everyone sit up and take notice:

The new business will operate under the Macromill brand, and be led by global CEO Han de Groot, former CEO of MetrixLab, and Japan/Asia CEO Katsumi Konishi. Former MetrixLab COO/CFO Jan Willem Gerritsen will become Executive Officer managing the US, European and Latin American businesses, partnering with Naoya Sugiyama responsible for people development and general administration and Naofumi Nishi responsible for corporate development. Financial terms of the transaction are not disclosed.