ResearchWeb mines the Net for effective survey results

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Warwick Baker O'Neill is teaming with search engine company Infoseek Corp. and research firm Macro International to create a banner-based data gathering system.

The new project--ResearchWeb--is headed up by Warwick Chief Planning Officer Tom Groves and entices Internet users to complete survey information by offering them incentives in banner ads.

Mr. Groves said he began talks with Infoseek and Macro last fall, then after "a lot of logistics" tested the first banner survey this spring. That first test--which was based on a travel survey--was done on what Mr. Groves called a pro bono basis to determine if the research method would work. New York-based Warwick designed a questionnaire and worked on the banner's art direction, Macro processed the data and Infoseek randomly posted the banners, which lured users with a $1,000 prize it gave away to one survey respondent.


The first survey was done over a four-day period with what Mr. Groves said were noteworthy results: 1.8 million exposures, 10,000 visits to the survey site, 5,000 completed questionnaires and 4,129 people who said they would be willing to be contacted again.

"It's cheaper, faster, more actionable, [and is available] 24 hours a day," said Mr. Groves of ResearchWeb's benefits over conventional mail and phone survey methods. "It builds critical mass quickly and inexpensively," he said.

Mr. Groves said the first test of ResearchWeb included an estimated 117 countries and had a 20% to 25% response rate. He added that with traditional research methods, "It would take months and months to build up that large of a sample."

Mr. Groves stressed that another major benefit of ResearchWeb is that a large percentage of survey respondents are willing to be contacted again in the future. "It creates in three to four days a panel of people who are willing to be recontacted," said Mr. Groves.

He added these new findings will help Warwick "parcel out the panel and custom design" research segments for its clients.


Melissa Bane, senior analyst at Yankee Group, said that companies must be careful not to overwhelm users when collecting data.

"With a lot of these direct marketing plans, consumers are beginning to get weary," she said, adding that the agency and its partners must also be sensitive to consumer privacy issues.

Clients are just now being introduced to ResearchWeb, although none yet are using it.

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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