NEWS29 September 2010

Harris Interactive’s George Terhanian moves to Toluna

North America People

US— George Terhanian is joining Toluna as chief strategy and product officer following his departure from Harris Interactive.

Terhanian, a past president of Harris’s global internet research business, will be responsible for “defining, developing and implementing” new products and services for clients of the online panel and survey software company.

With 14 years of full-service agency experience under his belt, Terhanian says he brings to Toluna an understanding of the needs of the company’s target market, as well as the needs of the end-clients who are the ultimate consumers of research data.

Asked for his take on the online data collection landscape, Terhanian said there are still growth opportunities to explore in developing and emerging markets where internet penetration is growing, while from a research perspective, he said, panel companies could do more to strip out inefficiencies from the survey process by building up more detailed profiles of their panellists.

“Potential respondents could be viewed as a blank canvas and the questions a research agency asks are the paint that completes and defines that canvas, so eventually a picture emerges,” he says.

“Most panel companies only hold information on up to 100 attributes for each panellist… but 100 is not a heck of a lot. They are only lines on a canvas.”

Panellist profiles might be fleshed out with the help of social media data – analysing online community discussions, for instance, could help determine how influential certain respondents are within their groups. The ultimate goal, says Terhanian, is to help research agencies and their clients more efficiently identify who to speak to.

Social media is already being tapped as a sampling source (see yesterday’s news of E-Rewards’ acquisition of Peanut Labs), while Terhanian’s former employer launched its Lifestreaming service earlier this year to track and analyse the social media activities of an opt-in group of the company’s online panellists.

Terhanian left Harris this week, having worked for the firm since 1996. In December 2008 he was named president of global solutions and put in charge of the company’s centres of excellence, the Harris Poll and new product development, but before that he was president of Harris Interactive Europe and, as previously mentioned, president of global internet research.

Harris has yet to publicly name his successor.