Is Sample part of AdTech or Insights?

April 27, 2021

There was an interesting remark made by an investor on this week’s ResTech online conference. Essentially the point made was that online sample (and it’s various technologies and companies) are really a sub-industry under AdTech in his eyes. As a 20+ year industry vet, I always viewed online sample as a distant cousin to AdTech, but not necessarily a sub-industry that way.  I view online sample as part of the Insights ecosystem.  

Why does this matter?

The massive infusion of PE and VC capital into online sample over the years has reshaped the online sample world into one that looks very much like AdTech. That has come with real benefits to be sure (i.e. efficiency, feasibility, etc.).  But it also had some consequences.  Your orientation on where the Ad Tech or Insights construct implies many things about how you view data collection.  

Here’s how I see it:

AdTech perspective:

“AdTech” refers to the massive technology ecosystem that drives digital advertising clicks and impressions. It’s comprised of a robust mix of high-demand and low-traffic websites that sell their online ad inventory to advertisers. Clients often compete in auctions for prime (and subprime) placement. Because of its level of automation, AdTech has been plagued by fake websites and manufactured clicks that capture billions of the aggregate ad spend dollars. Even the largest firms Google, Facebook, and others have been repeatedly targeted this way.  

Despite all of this, the ROI from this ecosystem clearly is there to absorb the constant loss of dollars due to fraud. The ads are ultimately designed to generate a sale which volumes of manufactured clicks won’t produce. This ROI, combined with the efficiency gains, cost effectiveness and performance management, made this an explosive growth sector that completely reshaped advertising.  

Insights Perspective:

Market Researchers don’t usually set their online sample budgets based on how many survey clicks they get on a project. They pay for a CPI (Cost per interview). This assumes industry-wise a completed survey filled out by a properly targeted and qualified person in an honest and thoughtful way. The ROI is solely based on the quality of the data and insights it enables. The data is all that matters.  

So, what happens when sample suppliers start acting in the AdTech mold- where the goal is driving mass volumes of clicks or impressions at the cheapest rates possible?  Well, the alignment on the main goals falls away. This creates a chasm that leaves Researchers scratching their heads when online research data starts experiencing AdTech problems.  

Many researchers don’t recognize the language, rules or dynamics of the AdTech game. But their data is often collected by very different standards than they think.  

This is why OpinionRoute commits so much time, energy and dollars in tools to keep Market Researchers thriving in a changing market. Want some help proactively ensuring data quality on your next project?  We can help. Give us a shout. We love to talk shop!

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