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While marketers have used online research for years, there has been no significant body of data showing the effectiveness of the Internet compared with traditional research methods.

That is until this month, when the Advertising Research Foundation will host Online Research Day featuring studies from leading marketers and researchers including Digital Marketing Services, Harris Black International, Microsoft Corp., NPD Group and Quaker Oats Co. On Jan. 25 in Los Angeles, the companies will disclose results of online research for concept testing, brand awareness, purchase intent and other objectives.


Quaker will present results of a parallel study to show differences between online and shopping mall methodologies; Microsoft will share ongoing research with 10 advertisers to show the impact of online advertising on brand strength; Harris Black will discuss the online population; and DMS will reveal results of four parallel studies.

"Online is really exploding," said Jim Spaeth, president of the ARF. "Leading companies are using the speed and cost-efficiency [of the Internet] to get products to market and make decisions in probably half the time they're able to make them using traditional marketing methods."

George Harmon, senior-VP of research services for DMS, a joint venture of America Online and M/A/R/C Research, Dallas, said online research has advantages.

With the telephone survey refusal rate seeing a steady increase (46% in 1997 vs. 40% in 1988, according to ARF), marketers are using the Internet to save money and time and increase the sample size, he said.

On average, Internet research is 30% to 40% less expensive than telephone or mall research; turnaround time for online polls is two to three days compared with four to five weeks for traditional research; and hundreds to thousands of respondents can be recruited in one day compared with weeks for traditional research, said Mr. Harmon.


"[The Internet] is becoming much more widely accepted by marketers," he said. "Management is understanding what is going on with the Internet and knowing they have to be involved."

Among findings to be presented by DMS include a study demonstrating accuracy of an online panel to forecast new-product sales; comparing mall and online research to determine consumer interest in new retail items in 17 markets; and results from identical questionnaires -- one by phone and one online -- on consumer attitudes and behavior.

"The demos [of Internet users] are gold-plated," said Mr. Harmon. "If you're not online or don't have a marketing program online that is supporting your products and services, you don't want to be left with consumers who aren't online."

Conference information is available at under conferences and

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