NEWS1 October 2013

AnswerTap makes way for Discuss.IO, new online qual service


US — Research technology company AnswerTap has emerged from beta with a new name – Discuss.IO – and a new real-time qual market research service.


The Discuss.IO service has been built to help research agencies quickly find and conduct in-depth, online video-based interviews with consumers, and to quickly edit and share those videos with clients and co-workers.

Co-founder Zach Simmons (pictured on the right), a former Amazon product manager, said: “The impetus behind Discuss.IO came out of my experience with large companies, including Amazon, where even in those sorts of fast-moving environments, you weren’t able to create and deliver a qual research project in anywhere near the time you needed to be able to implement it in the business.

“The original big innovation we came up with was the ability to move and recruit people in a matter of minutes,” says Simmons. For that, Discuss.IO has partnered with companies including uSamp and Federated Sample. “What we do is to talk to them in real time, such that when you come to us with a project, you put in your screener, you send that to us, and merely by pushing a button, we are turning on a faucet – so to speak – from all kinds of sources and we are therefore able to run close to potentially hundreds of people through a custom screener that you have created in a matter of minutes.”

“The rule of thumb here is that every hour of video footage generates about five hours of work on the backend. We really wanted to solve that problem for everyone”

According to Simmons, “That innovation, that ability to be able to conduct in-the-moment research with people that are readily available, is a huge advantage. And putting it in a self-service or DIY type of model allows us to dramatically lower the pricing of that recruit and that underlying software.”

Discuss.IO’s other co-founder, Jim Longo (above left) – formerly with the startup VoteIt, Itracks and Harris Interactive – told Research: “The industry is kind of shocked by our pricing and that it includes incentives. This is a game-changer in the sense that we’ve created some efficiencies around the recruiting process. What we’re able to do is get people without having to pay them so much money.”

“People are used to paying $150 a head just for incentives,” adds Simmons. “We take our final price, which is all of that included, for less than $100 a head.”

By “all of that included”, Simmons means recruiting, recording the video interviews, transcribing the video and making it searchable and editable, in order to compile a series of relevant and related clips.

“What we do is take the entire video content. Then we machine-transcribe it – which means we throw a lot of computers at it, which go through and parse that content into a transcript – and that transcript is then synchronised to the video itself,” says Simmons.

“We have built capabilities to allow you to search the transcript and jump the playhead around merely by typing in the keywords you are looking for. Then, what we do is, using a simple one-button approach, you highlight a series of words and you press a little scissor icon – and you have generated a clip. That clip can be sequenced with many other clips just by dragging and dropping and pressing the download button.

“The rule of thumb here is that every hour of video footage generates about five hours of work on the backend. That is, transcribing, typing it up, clipping – doing all the things you need to do to prepare a highlight reel.
We really wanted to solve that problem for everyone,” says Simmons.

Discuss.IO launches today.

Frequently asked questions

Who do you see as your competitors? GutCheck springs to mind.
Zach Simmons:
We think the team at GutCheck has put together a great product. They have an ability to do online recruiting, but some of the deficiencies we see in their model is that they only offer text based chatting – which for us is a minor feature in our overall suite. So we think there’s a gap there in that delivery.

How about The Big Sofa?
I think what they’re doing is great. They take this inflatable sofa around and have these discussions with people. It’s an attractive sort of thing, to get people to talk in public settings, and it makes an awful lot of sense. But we’re obviously different, because we’re all digital, not offline. Also, my sorry lungs would not be able to blow that sofa up.

What’s next after go-live?
We have a whole host of features in the pipeline. Enhancements to the core functionality. We’re going to support group functionality in about a month. We’re also looking at doing some very exciting stuff around video analysis; semantic analysis. Because this is on the cloud, we can run tons of server resources at a specific problem and be able to generate some attractive and insightful visualisations based on that raw information that we have.