Top 10 Ways Q4 Impacts Your Data

August 28, 2020

GET BACK TO WORK! I'm not just stating the obvious in this post.  The volume we are experiencing right now in the online survey side of the Quant MR industry has a real impact on projects in several ways; some are obvious while others are subtle.  In the interest of keeping this one pithy, I'll invoke my inner David Letterman, without the funny. Here is the Top 10 ways Q4 volume impacts online sample delivery:

1. More surveys = less available feasibility per project. Sometimes we think of the online survey taking population as an infinite resource in peak periods. Q4 offers a sharp reminder that we are truly only dealing with a precious, finite pool of willing respondents.  Studies that were fine a few months ago, now are much more difficult to field.
2. Respondent burden increases dramatically which may impact data quality. Survey takers are being asked to do much more. The more surveys people take, the greater the risk for engagement issues and "inattentiveness".  This often impacts data quality.
3. Past participation screen out rates skyrocket. Past month category participation rates are no big deal 9 months a year even in common categories. However, in Q4, many categories can see a 10-15 percentage point spike in termination rates across many panels.  This, depending on the company that you work with, can lead to higher costs.
4. High demand demos will lag even further behind. We still need those millennials but now there are a lot more surveys to compete with to get them in your survey.  Hard to reach demos become even harder to reach now and are being tasked with doing more.
5. Your concept evaluations are taking place in a peak period. Your concept is now being benchmarked in a much more competitive light as concept tests are happening left and right.  This could impact ratings in either direction in ways that are different from other times of year.
6. Service attention is impacted. Project Managers are overloaded, this likely leads to more short-cuts in process norms and greater risk to the core sample design and data quality.
7. Mix of respondents differ on a supplier level. Major providers rely on third-party more heavily this time of year due to less organic availability of their proprietary panels. This can have significant data impacts, especially on tracking studies.
8. End-of-year annual profit targets conflict with suppliers' need to purchase more from third-party. Translation - Cheap is the priority. This could lead to higher than normal supply from mobile sources, single opt in volume, etc.
9. DOI "after the fact" could be ramped up to adjust to the demand. This refers to a process some suppliers use that uses your project as part of the opt in process. The second step in the double opt-in process won't come until after they complete your survey.
10. End of year bill splitting to help panel firms recognize revenue. I never had a client who loved this but it's not uncommon. With companies owing numbers to large investors, maximizing every projects' revenue recognition potential in the year can lead to split invoices.  This often leads to mistakes and January corrections.

With some increased awareness, you can be better positioned to deflect any risk this list might introduce to your deliverable.  Nobody wants to have a bad January stemming from December work.  Hopefully these tips can help ensure a smooth start to a prosperous new year!

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