Trends in the Sample Industry: Transparency and Necessity

Jan 7, 2014 | Marketplace

By Patrick Comer

After a highly successful year for the Sample industry, 2014 is shaping up to be even bigger. Why? Federated Sample identified 3 top trends that are sure to catapult the Sample space to new heights:

1. Transparency, Transparency, Transparency:

The dirty little secret of many Sample companies is that the respondents aren’t coming from their own proprietary panels but from a network of direct panel and rewards programs.  In fact, our most recent analysis of 3rd-party completes data, showed almost 70% of respondents provided by the major Sample companies aren’t actually owned by them.

The situation is no longer tenable as quality research requires knowledge of the sources of sample so that the sample frame can be replicated and consistently applied. Hiding many suppliers behind a single panel brand will give sample a bad name when survey results are damaged. In 2013 we began to see the trend in buyers expanding their direct network of suppliers on the Fulcrum Exchange with 183 different Sample sources managed in 68 countries.  In the first week of 2014 alone, we’ve already seen 67 suppliers in 35 countries and expect this to surpass the numbers seen last year.

In 2014, transparency of sourcing will become table stakes as buyers are taking the matter into their own hands either through field management and sourcing platforms like Fulcrum or other DIY tools. Transparency will also highlight just how many high-quality sample providers there actually are to choose from across the globe.   Prodege, an important industry sample provider over the past five years, has focused on selling directly to the panel companies and Sample brokers rather than investing in the direct sales and marketing channels to market research firms.  Now with technology, access to Prodege is easy and reliable without the mark-up of a middleman.

2. Programmatic Buying and Selling Set to Explode:

The automated buying and selling of Sample, also known as programmatic, will see huge growth in 2014.  Everyone seems to be hocking their API to connect the survey platform to the Sample suppliers.  Buyers and sellers continuing to manage bidding and fielding manually will lose out on speed, sales, and quality.

The challenges are that programmatic is relatively new so the appropriate rules of delivery are still being fleshed out. But for the majority of surveys, sample is officially a commodity that can be managed machine to machine. In 2013, the Fulcrum Exchange saw a 600% increase in the volume of sample purchased programmatically and a doubling of suppliers participating since Q3 2012.  In fact, 30-35% of sample managed on the Fulcrum Exchange is programmatically sold and we expect to cross the 50% threshold in 2014.

Projection: Over 2M+ completes from more than 60 suppliers will be bought and sold programmatically in 2014 on the Fulcrum Exchange and other technology platforms.

3. Sample Stands Alone:

In 2013, Sample became an industry unto itself.  For decades Sampling has been a necessary piece of the survey process but always linked to the market research firms.  For a decade, if we wanted to meet with our colleagues, we had to go to market research conferences run by the market research associations.  Sample has always been discussed in the context of the survey.

This is fundamentally shifting for a few reasons:  first, the fastest growing companies in the overall research industry for the past decade are Sample companies.  Second, more buyers of sample are appearing that are not traditional market research agencies such as the end clients, consulting firms, analytic portals, and big data platforms.  Finally, data aggregation is giving Sample companies a unique role in what analysts can know about respondents by layering behavioral, social, and real-time responses on top of what’s directly collected in the survey instrument.

Projection: SampleCon, the Sample industry’s first sample-only event, will experience a 100 percent increase in attendance at its 2nd annual conference in New Orleans.

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