NEWS29 September 2009

Coke and Unilever to trial ARF online quality programme

Features North America

US— Later today the Advertising Research Foundation is set to unveil a process it has developed in collaboration with industry partners which is designed to improve quality in online research.

Details are under wraps until 2pm Eastern Time, but big research-spenders including Coca-Cola and Unilever have already committed to piloting the process, the ARF said.

The industry body calls its Quality Enhancement Process the “culmination” of the research-on-research project that was initiated by its Online Research Quality Council, which was set up in response to mounting concerns over the reliability of data produced by web-based surveys and panels.

ARF chief research officer Joel Rubinson has been reporting back on findings of the research for the past few months (see here and here) but at a meeting today he, and council co-chairs Stan Sthanunathan and Steve Coffey, are expected to showcase a way to put those learnings into practice.

Sthanunathan (pictured), vice president of marketing strategy and insights at The Coca-Cola Company, said: “Having the right quality data is critical for sustainable and informed decision-making. Data quality issues are becoming more serious with every passing day. This is an industry challenge that requires agencies and clients to collaborate and create an industry solution that will raise the bar significantly.”

Meanwhile, other initiatives are also looking to address the problem. Research Voice has an advisory board featuring representatives from agencies including Nielsen, GfK NOP, InSites Consulting, Cambiar, Anderson Analytics and M/A/R/C Research, who together aim to develop their own research-on-research project with the aim of enhancing the respondent experience.

Sample supplier Survey Sampling International played a key role in establishing Research Voice. Its CEO Kees de Jong pitches the initiative as a counterpoint to the recent focus on fraudulent, inattentive or professional respondents. Rather than seeing survey takers themselves as the cause of online’s quality problems, they argue that the survey process itself needs improving.

“This initiative is a platform to develop much needed standards and best practices for positively relating to research participants,” he said. “By improving the survey experience, we will grow people’s willingness to participate in future research engagements.”