The Big Guys Have Reams of Research; Now You Can Too

Lab42 Is Translating Data From Social Media Into Quick Quantitative Research

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Big agencies have departments. Small agencies have people with hats. So when I find a way to provide something that puts us toe-to-toe with our larger competition, I don't hesitate to share it with my fellow small-agency friends. When I find it's better and cheaper than it used to be, I scream it to everyone.

Case in point: research. Large agencies have considerable resources in this area and leverage it when pitching against small agencies. So when I learned Lab42, a new research company in Chicago, offers quality research much faster and cheaper than in the past, I immediately gave them a call.

About 15 months ago Lab42's president, Gauri Sharma, started the company with an insight on how to reach a significantly larger and more specific audience, deliver the resulting research in days instead of weeks and do it for pennies on the dollar.

"We find a constant stream of fresh respondents based on targeted demographic and psychographic parameters through social media," Sharma said of Lab42's method. "Social applications like blogs and games with a virtual currency component are our primary sources. For example, a person playing Farmville may need credits to proceed further. They take one of our short surveys, which often include video, images and other interactive features. This makes our reach much deeper, which is a huge benefit to agencies going after new business."

That must be so. David & Goliath, a previous Small Agency of the Year winner, is one of the early adopters of this new and improved way to get quantitative research. David Measer, director of strategic planning, shared how much delight his small agency takes in walking into a pitch loaded with research, when pitted against large agencies. "We have to be cunning and nimble, and Lab42 enables us to do so. They help demonstrate that we move at the speed of consumers."

Another user, Modea, an agency in Blacksburg, Va., met the research company at last year's Small Agency Conference in Denver. "Their model allows you to get research so quickly it's a huge advantage," says Mike Cox, senior strategic planner. "At first, I questioned the reliability of using social media, particularly online games. But the profiles you have on social media and level of specificity make Lab42's model very valid."

Speed matters in new business pitches, and both David & Goliath and Modea sing the praises of doing research using social-media audiences for that reason alone. Both agencies claimed getting quality research in a few days. Measer added that the research firm was an ideal partner for his agency because they were offering something no one else had. "They are the first to do research within the social media platform," said Measer. "It wouldn't surprise me if big research firms won't be offering this soon."

Touting a company is not my usual fare on this blog, but when there is a unique tool that gives small agencies an edge, you're going to get it, even it does sound like an infomercial. Enough said, check them out.

Bart Cleveland is partner, creative director, McKee Wallwork Cleveland, Albuquerque, N.M.
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