The repeated call from end clients is that the market research industry must evolve from data collection providers to producers of market insights. As research companies explore what new tools and methodologies can be put in place to satisfy these demands, it is important not to overlook data that is already available, right now, that can be translated into new and meaningful insights. One of the most glaring examples here is research metadata.
In market research, metadata (also known as paradata) is data that is collected about panelists and survey respondents during background-running processes. Metadata fields often vary from one software platform to another; some systems retain only basic data while other systems collect quite extensive data. Kinesis Panel™, for example, currently collects approximately 20 metadata fields for panelists, in addition to the metadata collected during specific project participation (including both survey and community participation). For research software platforms that are robust in this area, there is a wealth of metadata available of three or more types – that which relates specifically to joining the panel (recruitment source, join date, etc.); that which relates specifically to survey projects (invitation date, completion status, points received, category of project, etc.); and that which relates to community participation (number of discussion posts, quick poll responses, etc.).
Many researchers run survey projects and manage panels with little to no consideration of this available metadata, and in doing so, are leaving valuable insights undiscovered. Metadata can be used to create highly targeted activity filters to retrieve panelists and respondents who have completed/not completed a specific project, responded only to specific categories (oral health care, automotive) of projects, participated only in specific types of projects (diaries, communities), participated only within a specified timeframe, or engaged in other similar examples based upon the needs of the particular study. Leveraging this metadata can result in improved quota setting, more targeted survey invitations, higher response rates – and ultimately – better insights.
Specific to panels, another example for metadata use is determining panel health and overall performance. The use of the “join date” field can be utilized to ascertain the length of time that each panelist, and specific groups of panelists overall, have been members of the panel. This data might be valuable determining the most “loyal” recruitment sources or to study the duration of panelists based upon any number of demographic, behavioral, incentive-based, or other attributes. Metadata can reveal what factors are motivating panelists to join, to stay, and to refer others.
There are many other uses of metadata in addition to those mentioned above – for delivering incentives, conducting respondent authentication, compensating recruitment partners, and so forth. The implementation of mobile technology also impacts the types and uses of metadata, as respondent authentication practices and project participation metrics are somewhat different for mobile users as compared to desktop users. Determining what metadata is available via the utilized software solution, and then taking time to thoroughly capitalize on it, are efforts that are very worthwhile.
Today’s highly competitive business environment dictates that market research companies conduct research in new and more innovation ways. Metadata facilitates the discovery of additional insights that are vital to maximizing the value provided to end clients…do not overlook it.