Behind the Headline: Ghost Completes and Who They Hurt

OpinionRoute breaks down headlines from industry news that relate to online surveys, online sample, data quality and relevant topics through our lens into the ecosystem.

Headline: “Forsta and Cint Link to Eliminate Ghost-Completes”

Forsta recently pre-announced a “First of its kind” approach to “Eradicating Ghost Completes”. Essentially they are announcing that in a month or so, they’ll have a server-to-server integration with the Cint platform.

We love all solutions around Data Quality. But, since this is a more technical topic, let’s break it down into 3 bite-sized pieces.

1. Ghost completes are a big problem, but not for the whole industry.
Forsta’s expanded claims here are that this kind of fraud “hinders data quality” and costs money for the market research pros. I disagree. Ghost Completes almost exclusively wreak havoc on programmatic sample companies’ profits while highlighting survey tool weaknesses around link security. The nature of the fraud involves “Ghosting” the survey altogether. No data is actually produced and only shows as an “attribution” on the sample company platform. As I wrote last year, this is an exploit of survey link and redirect norms in our industry that badly need modernization.

2. Server-to-server (S2S) integrations are not new.

This capability has been available for years. Essentially it is a “behind the scenes,” high-tech way for the survey tool to notify a vendor that a respondent became a qualified complete (revenue generating event). S2S replaces attribution via redirect links. This is being announced now because major programmatic sample firms have suffered tremendously due to this fraud over the last few quarters. While it’s impossible to fully know, this likely costs multi-million dollars, with not one penny affecting the researchers or client brands. OpinionRoute’s NavigatOR platform, a workflow system that includes a secure link and attribution processing, has utilized S2S and other security methods to connect with sample platforms for years.

3. This solution will save a big programmatic sample firm money but concedes fraudsters remain in the programmatic sample systems.

We need fiscally healthy sample companies. So from that perspective, this announcement is great. But this falls short of addressing the programmatic supplier connections lack of security that allowed the bad guys in. We staunchly advocate a holistic Data Quality strategy that adds security before pre-survey, in-survey and enhances post-survey cleaning activities. The major programmatic sample firms aren’t focused in this way on the researchers’ project flow. Market Researchers (or users of End-to-End Insights Platforms) must own this in their own processes.

Want to go deeper? Feel free to hit us up and we are happy to help you out!

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash


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