Targeting Better Quality Data

A recent study by Grey Matter Research and Harmon Research revealed that online panels are incredibly susceptible to respondent quality issues – a finding that threatens to undermine the trust in MR data.

The study’s researchers fielded an online questionnaire with a handful of the largest panel providers that included a range of tests and quality control measures designed to assess the caliber of respondents. Just under half (46 percent) of respondents failed to meet the researchers’ standards for inclusion due to multiple errors or outright fraud; overall, the report concluded that around 90 percent of researchers weren’t taking “sufficient steps to ensure online panel quality”. It’s a statistic which, if even remotely accurate, is deeply worrying.

The battle for better data

Among the quality issues identified were nonsensical responses to OE questions, failure to identify and remove straightliners, as well as a lack of fake or ‘red herring’ questions designed to weed out inauthentic responses. Crucially, the report showed stark differences between respondents whose identities the researchers had verified and those tagged as bogus: the bogus respondents significantly skewed results, rendering data ineffective, at best.

Research companies and panels face a constant battle to guard against the infiltration of fraudulent and disengaged respondents – including bots and click farms – into online surveys but it’s becoming more difficult to detect them as their methodologies become increasingly sophisticated.

Obviously, panel companies are under significant pressure to provide fast, affordable data, a demand that doesn’t always go hand in hand with the need to provide quality. It’s not a problem that can be easily solved after the data is collected – without a lot of manual checking – so, it’s best tackled before results are aggregated.

Some QA can be addressed through study design. Every questionnaire should include measures to determine respondents’ validity. Data reviews should be scheduled during and after the field. Obviously, different types and lengths of study require different solutions – speeding issues are more obvious on longer questionnaires, for example, while straightlining won’t be a problem where there are no grids. Red herring questions can be readily identified by bogus respondents, so aren’t always effective.

Cleaning the respondent pool

The majority of bad or fraudulent respondents can be taken out of the pool before being given the opportunity to start a survey. Imperium’s data integrity solutions are fully automated and are designed to validate only those respondents who pass our stringent checks.

RegGuard® is a broad-spectrum, automated data-validation solution. It combines our flagship ID-validation API RelevantID® with Fraudience®, Real Answer® and Real Mail tools during registration to perform a customizable 360-degree check on each registrant – importantly, before they’re added to your panel.

It weeds out fraudsters and dupes, at the same time verifying their IP reputation. Items are scored and flagged, making it easy to identify registrants for processing or removal. When used in concert with self-reported data-authentication tool, Verity®, and CASS-certified postal record-checking tool, Address Correction, it provides a robust first line of defence for MR companies and panels.

Looking forward

We’re adding a new tool to our collection in the New Year that will give MR companies and panels even more control over data quality using an entirely automated process that will totally transform survey results, saving time, money and resources. Stay tuned!

Register here for more information on this industry-first development.

Experian 2020 report highlights the need for cleaner data

This year’s Experian Global Data Management Report (2020) makes interesting reading for any businesses looking to leverage data more effectively in the pursuit of more granular customer insights.

It’s easy to see how data has become the key driver for critical business initiatives: it gives businesses the insights they need to make better decisions, forge profitable relationships with consumers and gain the advantage in an increasingly competitive environment. However, although data is more abundant than ever, it appears that the availability of trusted data is rather more elusive.

For market research companies and panels, accurate data is their lifeblood. Yet, Experian’s research shows that levels of inaccuracy regarding organizational data remain high. Tellingly, this year’s respondents believed that 28% of their customer and prospect data was likely to be inaccurate, with only half of organizations polled considering the current state of their CRM or ERP data as ‘clean’.

It’s a statistic that serves as a sharp contrast to the 98% of organizations that say having high-quality data is either ‘extremely important’ or ‘important’ in achieving their business objectives.

We all need to become more serious about managing data as an asset. But, if the prevalence of trusted data is to become a reality rather than a pipe dream, businesses need to have the right people, processes and technology in place to return complete, valid, accurate and reliable results time after time.

A dynamic approach to data hygiene

At Imperium, we’re all about generating better, cleaner data. Our data integrity solutions are designed to deliver validated datasets via a series of invisible, fully automated processes, returning the trusted, verified insights our customers rely on.

Imperium customers already appreciate the benefits of using Verity®, a tool that quickly authenticates respondents’ self-reported data, as well as our CASS-certified postal record-checking tool, Address Correction.

Our latest innovation offers a quick and effective method for verifying respondent information from the get-go. RegGuard® uses our flagship ID-validation API RelevantID®, together with Fraudience®,Real Answer® and Real Mail tools during registration to perform a 360-degree check on the individual registrant – before they’re added to your panel.

This multi-functional tool not only weeds out fraudsters and dupes but also verifies their IP reputation. RegGuard® can determine whether the registrant is inputting appropriate info into any open text boxes, as well as checking for a valid email address – thanks to the Real Mail tool that helps reduce bounce rates and prevents senders being added to blocklists.

Items are scored and returned together with a flag that makes it easy to identify registrants for processing or removal. RegGuard® is customizable to enable the various check to be weighted differently.

Improving data insights

Data hygiene is crucial – especially as AI and ML are increasingly used in the quest for greater insight into consumer behavior. In the Experian report, Mike Kilander, Global Data Quality MD comments: “While the business wants to be agile and informed by data, this level of distrusted data often leads leaders to fall back on making decisions by gut instinct rather than by informed data insight.” By empowering market research companies and panels to take control of data quality, we can help rebuild the trust that’s essential to underpinning growth and innovation in the sector.

Imperium solutions are:

• Cloud-based and platform-independent
• Invisible to users with no impact on experience
• Customizable with flexible deployment options

If you’d like to learn more about our full-featured response or to request a free trial, contact us at to discuss your requirements with an expert member of our team.