In an era of technological advancement, the opportunities to conduct research in online settings have expanded dramatically
Over the past decade, the use of online and mobile research methods, such as #Surveys, #Interviews as well as online #Focus Groups, has grown dramatically. Indeed, thanks to #technological advances, it is now possible to conduct research more #quickly and at lower #budgets than face-to-face.
The design and administration of online surveys is based on technologies that are constantly evolving. Today, survey generation software packages and online survey services make it much easier and faster to conduct online surveys. Nevertheless, many advertisers are still unaware of the potential of online surveys in our region.
Some important facts to know:
1. Are online respondents representative of the national population?
There are many misconceptions about this topic. Some people believe that online surveys are primarily intended for the wealthy classes, while others believe that low-income targets are over-represented, motivated by the remuneration offered in some panels.
It is important to note that in a majority of countries, including developing countries (such as Morocco), there are very robust panels based on demographic quotas that reflect all social classes, ages and regions (e.g., the #YouGov panel includes more than 1 million people in the #MENA region, including nearly 200,000 people in Morocco, with a composition based on quotas modeled on the national urban/semi-urban population).
2. Are very niche targets easy to recruit online?
There are online respondent recruitment sources that allow for very specific targeting to very niche populations. This allows for easier access to groups and individuals that would be difficult or impossible to reach through other channels, but are more easily identified online through advanced targeting technologies.
3. Are online respondents truthful and are the responses reliable?
It is important to know that the majority of the online surveys we do are not paid, and when they are, the incentives are low and do not justify any attempt at fraud. We still perform a large number of quality controls to ensure the reliability of the data (response time, trick questions, open questions, IP address control systems, detection of robots, etc.).
In addition, online surveys allow us to overcome certain biases related to the presence of the interviewer. The more anonymous nature of the surveys allows respondents to express themselves without filters and to focus on personal emotions, limiting social pressures and sometimes providing more honest and authentic content. Finally, respondents can respond at their convenience rather than being disturbed at an inconvenient time.
4. What are the limitations of online studies?
It is important to note that online surveys can only be used to include the literate and connected population, which may be a limitation to discuss in some cases. Another limitation includes the length of the questionnaires, which should be shorter in online administration.
In the case of qualitative studies, the few cases where online studies are not recommended are those where you need to touch and see products up close. It is possible to project photos, sounds and videos, but the sensory dimensions and 3D are lost. However, if the methodology allows it, it is possible to consider sending the participants a copy beforehand.
5. What is the value of online focus groups?
The last few years have proven the effectiveness of this method of gathering insights from all social classes, and even from illiterate populations. Indeed, online discussions do not require any level of education and do not present any complex technological barrier. On the contrary, they offer many additional advantages:
- Moderators can use the new online facilitation tools to use projective activities that allow for feedback, voting, and quality in-depth data collection
- All participants can see each other live during discussions, which increases the quality of interactions
- Respondents are generally “fresh” and willing to spend more time in discussion. They choose the location of their choice and do not waste time traveling to the agency
- The client can also attend without difficulty
Finally, the “on-line” method also allows us to carry out more ethnographic studies thanks to discussion forums that last from one to several weeks with missions defined according to the needs of the study.
Mariem Lahlou – Co-founder at ThinkONE