FEATURE3 April 2012

What will Google’s survey tool mean for MR?


What does the research industry think of the new Google Consumer Surveys tool? Four ‘rivals’ and a client give their take.

We asked a selection of Research readers to give their views on what it might mean for them and the industry as whole. Make sure to add your thoughts in the comments thread below.

Miles Worne, EMEA managing director, Research Now

Google’s entrance into any sector is never good news for the incumbents; but what makes this especially interesting, and potentially more disruptive, is that it’s clear Google isn’t so much interested in the research industry as it is in the collection of data to power its lucrative core businesses. The self-serve players now have a massive monkey on their backs. At present, GCS is less of a direct threat to higher quality, higher service providers, and I’m not sure how well the model will fly in markets with stricter privacy laws, such as the EU. If Google is in need of millions of international, fully opted-in, loyal and deeply profiled panelists, then we’d love to partner with them.

Mark Simon, managing director, global technology practice, Toluna

Google entering the survey research market is a very exciting development for Toluna because it’s the clearest possible proof-of-concept of our DIY strategy with Toluna QuickSurveys. We believe that DIY survey research will have the same democratising impact for insight that AdWords had for advertising many years ago; namely, empowering a mass market audience for a previously complex discipline at an affordable price. We’ve been advocating this at Toluna for a long time now and we strongly believe that we are at the beginning of a sea change in our industry. Exciting times.

Rupesh Patel, research manager at BSkyB

It’s too early to tell how disruptive Google Consumer Surveys will be; at the moment it doesn’t replace or complement any research I commission. The biggest positive is that this tool encourages small businesses/start-ups to invest in market research. I fear however, this could breed a lot of cowboy researchers. Initially that’s the only market I see this working for. Google’s tool lends itself to answering the simpler questions. Larger companies already have affordable, fast and reliable methods. Many have invested in online communities, customer engagement programmes and some even have in-house quant tools.

Brent Chudoba, vice president of business strategy, SurveyMonkey

The Google Consumer Survey product is a great example of the importance of consumer feedback. The market for providing online sample, or targeted survey respondents, is enormous. SurveyMonkey, via our Audience product, and now Google, is validating that there are opportunities to expand and create new online feedback markets (already a multi-billion dollar market). Similar to how SurveyMonkey turned surveys into a DIY tool, Google is turning sample into a DIY product for customers to obtain feedback quickly and reliably. We expect that SurveyMonkey and similar companies will reap the benefits of having more customers accessing survey, feedback, targeted audience or respondent tools themselves.

John Dick, CEO at CivicScience

It’s great that Google is helping to legitimise distributed polling. We’ve tested similar models where respondents are forced to take polls as a gateway to content. Unfortunately we couldn’t solve for all the people who clicked random answers just to get through the poll. Once Google solves that problem, they will have an exciting product on their hands. 


12 years ago

Google has shown once again that it can bust through long-established paradigms. Why do we need surveys where one respondent answers all questions? We really don't. Once again, Google is forcing us to challenge our assumptions about our industry and craft. It is the source of innovation. Will the research industry disappear? No. But it will change. What a FUN time to be in research! More about this at www.qualblog.com.

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12 years ago

I think everyone in the industry just peed their pants.

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12 years ago

reading through the whitepaper Google has distributed on this topic, the method used to test this tool against others has some serious deficiencies (and some quite 'creative' calculations) and Google themselves have realised that the tool does have its limitations - eg. can't ask more than a few questions. Nevertheless, this is a good way to increase SMEs access to often unaffordable market research and fits within their suite of products to advertisers quite nicely

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12 years ago

This was something that Research industry feared since couple of years...i.e. facebook, Google getting into Research / Sampe space. This I feel is just a start now & a potential Industry changing picture in this decade. The way consumers and social media engagement is happenning & evolving, it would not be long before the 'Big Social Giants' understand the revenue it can grad out of MR space. It is going to be a real exciting decade with these biggies gobbling up many MR DIY / Sample companies.

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