The Omnibus service, part of DMS' Opinion Place online polling area on America Online, is designed for clients that don't want to conduct full-blown online market research surveys, which can cost $7,500 and up, according to DMS, based in Dallas.
Survey questions from one client are pooled with questions from other marketers and a single survey with approximately 20 questions is presented to 1,000 randomly selected AOL users.
Clients share the cost, which DMS says is 50% to 75% less than the cost of custom research.
Omnibus is particularly well-suited for clients "who have just a few questions and need answers quick," said Shelly Bracken, VP at DMS, an independent affiliate of America Online that has exclusive AOL interviewing rights. DMS also owns and operates AOL Rewards, which gives users points that can be redeemed for merchandise and discounts off AOL services for participating in polls.
RESULTS IN 24 HOURS
So far, DMS has conducted a test wave of Omnibus research with clients from entertainment, retailing and communications companies. It declined to release client names.
Omnibus polling is conducted Thursday through Sunday, and results are delivered to clients within 24 hours. The deadline for questions is Tuesday.
"It's a great, low-cost way to get questions answered very quickly," said Beth Rounds, senior VP at Custom Research, a DMS partner that uses its Opinion Place polling service. "It's a great way for marketers to get their feet wet" before doing complete custom research on the Web, she added.
Custom Research offers its own omnibus mall research for concept testing, in which it screens products and services before doing more thorough market research.
"You may have 200 concepts a year [for different clients] and can't go out and test all of them," said Ms. Rounds. "That's the beauty of omnibus."
Other market research companies are using the Web to offer clients advanced tools and customized research, often at lower costs than traditional research.
POLLING VIA KIOSKS
For example, Greenfield Online, Westport, Conn., will unveil at the November Comdex show a conference survey tool that uses a kiosk in clients' trade show booths to poll attendees.
The unnamed product is designed to reach targeted audiences, such as information technology users. For $8,500 to $10,000 per conference, Greenfield will provide the kiosk, build and administer a survey with 10 to 20 questions, provide a facilitator and deliver results daily.
"If we want to reach [IT users], we have to start thinking outside the box on ways to reach them," said Hugh Davis, director-advanced technologies. Greenfield last month launched MindStorm, an online brainstorming product that starts at $10,000, which lets marketers, agencies and users conduct open-ended discussions about products before moving to focus groups, again proving the Web's power as a research facilitator.