Google Breaks Old Research Rules...and New Ground

They say one of the keys to innovation is to break a rule that really doesn’t matter anyway.  Google has done it again.  This time, they have broken the paradigm that a respondent must answer an entire battery of questions.  Why was this necessary before?  Simply because it was the most efficient way to do it…back when we were doing paper surveys.  Today, it is simply not the most efficient way. Congratulations to Google for seeing through the cloud of common practice and providing a faster and cheaper way to obtain research data.

As reported the past few days by Bob Lederer of Research Business Daily Report, Google Consumer Surveys now offers survey questions a la carte for as little as $.10/response.  Its pretty simple.  In the past, to access a free premium content site, you often had to sit through a 30-second ad.  It was irritating but bearable because you knew that it paid for your free content.  Google has replaced that ad with research.  Answer a question, you get access to content.  Its faster for both the reader and the researcher, a win-win.

Some researchers express the concern that people won’t take the question seriously.  Seriously?  Do they really believe that respondents will be any less serious when they have to answer a single question than when they are 18 minutes deep in a 25 minute survey?   This concern is typical of the industry when innovation comes along.  It will prove to be moot.

So, who really benefits most?  DIY researchers.  Its easy.  Its fast.  Its cheap.  Time will tell about the validity.  If privacy concerns and legislation do not stop this train, this type of research will grow into a major option for researchers.

Will this be the end of survey research?  No.  Like the telephone, CATI and online before it, it will prove to be yet another tool to help make research faster and better.

As I have said before, this is the most exciting time EVER to be in research!

  1. Jim, you are so right about the excitement level in research. The industry is changing–for the better as all sort os innovative techniques and technologies empower research’s ability to tap into the opinions (sometimes the minds) of consumers and customers. We WILL recognize the industry 10-15 years from now because all the oldies and goodies will remain, supported by ingenious options for all sorts of research situations.

  2. Bob, thanks for bringing the Google issue to the forefront in your Research Business Daily Reports. Its a fascinating development that should make us all analyze our paradigms and sacred cows.  The problem is, we often can’t tell the difference between a sacred cow and an eternal truth until someone points it out.  

  3. Jim. Thanks for your perspective – it is always spot on in my view. Please note however, for whatever it is worth and as Lenny Murphy noted Monday in his introduction to Simon Chadwick’s story on the AMA Green Book blog, while Google brings attention to this macro sampling micro polling approach CivicScience Inc. has been at something very similar yet unique for some time now. Our approach avoids all together the issue of forced responses and is entirely voluntary and spread across a very wide set of digital properties Google comes nowhere near replicating currently. Jeff Linenfelser

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