Language Matters | Online Sample Word Salad 

Contrasting visualization of market research evolution: Left side depicts traditional methods with in-person discussions and paper surveys, while right side shows modern techniques with digital data analytics and social media sampling. Central transition illustrates shift from paper to digital, symbolizing industry's technological advancement.

By Terence McCarron 

Have you recently read the websites of some of the biggest sample firms?  I’m a 25-year veteran of the sample space. I know the ins and outs of the business at a very deep level.  Yet, sometimes even I struggle to understand what they’re saying. It seems to have affected most sample vendors.   

Here are a few prime examples: 

Vendor A 

2024 Key Message: Largest first-party data platform for insights, activation and measurement.   

All featured “clients” are major corporations. 

2014 Key Message: We give you an extensive range of services, from programming and hosting to sample delivery, scripting to online reporting. 

Client Focus is Market Research firms. 

Vendor B

2024 Key Message: Empowering insights professionals to conduct research without limits.   

2014 Key Message: Pioneer in the dynamic world of market research, data collection, reporting and visualization. 

Subtle evolution from clients who are market research firms to supporting insights professionals both in MR agencies and corporations.   

This shift isn’t sudden.  Above is simply a point-in-time reflection on a language trend that started years ago.  A service that began as online panel sample evolved into programmatic technology.   

Why does this matter? 

When language shifts on one side of a partnership, mutual trust and understanding breaks down.  In this example, that breakdown occurred for good reason.   

With the introduction of new technology, the underlying methodology absolutely changed.  The broader industry didn’t understand all the nuances and probably would resist the approach if they were told.   

Researchers generally saw the change in language by their vendors as simple posturing by firms trying to sound more tech-y. (That is also true).  But there was something more fundamental happening that changed sample norms, and eventually the role of the sample company.  Once the mindset shifts to being a tech play, programmatic sample evolves into being an Insights Platform. Next thing you know, a researchers’ partner is now your competitor.   

More than decade later, the perception gap between researchers and sample vendors has never been bigger.

Just reflect on the chart below: 

Old School vs. New School Online Sample Concepts 

The game changed dramatically behind these words.  Researchers who manage vendors like they did in 2014 are absorbing risk. We may not be able to undo all the change, but you can take back power through a new way of managing projects.  

Want a partner to help you sort it all out?  Hit us up! 

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