Advertisers can improve any campaign using consumer research. Here’s how

Advertisers have used Survata’s consumer survey service in a variety of clever ways. Here are examples of some of our favorites:

Predict banner performance

If you run display advertising campaigns, you likely invest heavily in increasing your banners’ click-through rates. You can easily use surveys to test banner ad designs and calls to action: Just show various ads to consumers, and ask which one they would most likely click. Beware, this test demonstrates “stated preference” which can differ from “revealed preference.” But this is an inexpensive way to predict which banners will boost your CTR before paying for impressions.

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Predict search ad performance

Similar to testing banner ads, you can show different AdWords text ads to respondents and ask them which they’re most likely to click on. Again, this is a stated preference and not a revealed preference. But if you’re bidding on high CPC keywords, this survey may be more cost effective than running a live CTR test on AdWords.

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Track ad recall

Is your brand message sinking in? Surveying consumers can be a great way to find out.  You can measure ad recall by surveying a target group (who saw your ad) and a control group (who did not see your ad), and asking if they remember your stellar advertisement. For online campaigns, you can usually cookie users to verify who has seen the ad. For TV campaigns, you’re left to survey the demographic and geographic segments most likely to have seen your spot. (For bonus points, read up on aided vs. unaided recall.)

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Measure ad effectiveness

After you know whether consumers remembered your ad, you should measure whether it was actually effective. Run one survey before your campaign and one survey after your campaign to look for a lift in brand awareness, brand favorability, or purchase intent. Again, utilize a control group (consumers not exposed to your campaign) to ensure the lift was not from an exogenous factor. For businesses that are not “direct response” advertisers, ad effectiveness surveys are critical to knowing whether your expensive campaigns are paying off.

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Generate keyword ideas

Any search engine marketer would love to extend their keyword list, and surveys make this possible too. Ask respondents for the terms they’re likely to use when searching for a given topic, and prepare to be amazed by how many different ways there are to search for the exact same thing. Such a process will likely lead you to keywords not suggested by existing tools, like Google’s Keyword Planner.

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Pick the right commercial

Don’t let this happen to you. Show potential versions of your TV commercial to your target audience and ask a few questions to get feedback. This ensures your ad is a winner before it’s ever seen by the general public.

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Have an idea for something we missed? Post a comment and let us know!

Fist bumps or black cars? Uber and Lyft attract users for different reasons

Why book a hotel room when someone’s apartment is left empty? Why catch a cab when you have a “friend with a car”? Such is the logic behind Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, and other collaborative consumption services that have exploded in popularity. The services are typically more convenient and less expensive than traditional alternatives, but also tote loftier implications, like bringing together members of a community and facilitating a sharing economy.

We at Survata were curious if consumers use collaborative consumption services mostly for the practical benefits (like price and convenience), or if the sharing economy ethos was a significant motivator. So we surveyed 554 people who used some of the most popular ridesharing and roomsharing services and asked why they chose to do so.

Sharing is caring

Overall, the majority of people say they used services such as Lyft, Airbnb, Couchsurfing, Uber, Zipcar, and RelayRides for practical service benefits. “Convenience,” “price,” and “level of service” were the three most common answers when consumers were asked to describe why they use the services. However, a significant portion of respondents also cited motivations more in line with the sharing community, such as “meeting new people” and “supporting individuals in my community.”


Hitching a ride

When looking at customers of specific collaborative consumption services, we found that their motivations differed significantly. For example, Lyft and Uber, two ridesharing cab alternatives, draw customers for notably different reasons. Lyft aims to offer a social vibe, as reflected by their tagline of “your friend with a car” and fist bump greeting policy. Uber has a variety of service levels, from uberX, a service equitable to Lyft, to uberBLACK, which offers luxury cars at a premium price. The data shows people who use Uber are more likely to cite “level of service” and “convenience” as reasons for using the service, while Lyft users are  more likely to answer “meeting new people” and “supporting individuals in my community.”


Rooms for rent

Airbnb, while obviously operating in a different industry than Uber and Lyft, seems to have a relatively large portion of customers who list both service aspects and collaborative consumption aspects as reasons for using the service. “Convenience” and “price” were the top two answers, and “meeting new people” and “supporting individuals in my community” were also significantly above overall averages.


Our take

While fostering a community economy and bringing people together are admirable business goals, the data suggests that such aspects alone aren’t a sufficient motivator to win customers over, especially if they come at the expense of price or service level. Collaborative consumption services continue to take off (as evidenced by the popularity of the “Airbnb for x” startup formula), and we’re intrigued to see how brand messages evolve as more competition enters the market.

Footnotes for our fellow data geeks

  1. We interviewed 554 online respondents from January 22 to February 11, 2014.
  2. You can download the underlying data here.
  3. You can analyze the underlying data in Statwing here.

8 Clever Ways Online Marketers Use Consumer Surveys

Online marketers have a plethora of web tools at their disposal. We at Survata are happy to see online marketing surveys becoming a more popular one, since they can inform a wide variety of business decisions. Marketers  have used our consumer survey service in many clever ways, so we wanted to share some highlights:

Defining your demographic

When developing a product or service, it’s essential to determine your target customer. The demographic sweet spot for your business may differ from your initial hunch or evolve over time, so it’s important to test your assumptions. It’s often helpful to start by surveying the general population about using your product, and follow up by targeting demographic subsets that responded positively. Progressively narrowing in on a demographic prevents you from surveying (or worse, selling to) an uninterested group.


Learning about product expectations

Validating demand for a product description is helpful, but working through the details is important too. Perhaps your new product is missing a critical feature, or you’re focusing on a specific aspect that’s not resonating with consumers. Describe a new business to consumers, and ask them what features and services they would expect it to include.


Finding the gap in your market

While it’s important to find out what your business is doing right, it’s also helpful to know what others are doing wrong. Learning what bothers consumers most about a specific industry is a great way to find a gap for your own product or service to address. There’s no need to guess how your business should be positioned in the market when you can ask consumers what shortcomings they see in existing services.


Testing names, logos, and taglines

Even with a committee or several rounds of edits, companies are capable of devising logos that rub their customers the wrong way. Running a survey to test a logo, label design, slogan, or product confirms your brand makes the intended impression, and communicates the features you need it to. Quickly putting your image in front of hundreds of consumers can prevent expensive adjustments down the road.


Hearing how others describe what you do

It’s one thing to feed marketing phrases to a potential customer, but how can you be sure your message is sinking in? It’s useful to hear your value prop repeated back to you. Put a screenshot of your homepage or marketing material in front of consumers, and have them describe what your service does. It’s the same language they’d use to spread the word about what your service does, so it’s important you hear it first.


Seeing how you stack up against competitors

It’s crucial for brands, especially established ones, to be self-aware. Are you the budget or top-shelf option? Are you youthful or do you have more of a geriatric appeal? Use a “forced ranking” question to have consumers rank you against your competitors on a variety of dimensions and find out.


Ranking aspects of your value prop

Another powerful use of a “forced ranking” question type is to have consumers provide their order of preference for different aspects of your service. Does ease of use matter more than quality of customer service? Every consumer has different opinions, and their aggregate data can help inform how you make business decisions.


Indexing your important numbers

Don’t settle for a snapshot; track your most important numbers over time. Building your own index helps you track the metrics that matter to you. For example, trust in a brand can fluctuate drastically with current events, and your target consumer’s behavior can change over time. Whether they are run monthly, quarterly, or annually, indexes can show how the needle is moving.

Have an idea for something we missed? Post a comment and let us know!

Denver lost, but Doritos and Budweiser won the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl offers an unparalleled opportunity for advertisers to make an impact with consumers (that is, if said advertisers happen to have $4 million lying around). And while Super Bowl XLVIII didn’t end up being the most climactic game in recent memory, the promise of a noteworthy commercial kept viewers watching until the end. We at Survata were curious to gauge which  ads were a big hit and which dropped the ball. To find out, we reached 1000 respondents overnight, all of whom reported they watched the entire game, and asked them to select their favorite commercial from a randomly selected group of six. Check out the full results below:

1. Doritos – “Cowboy Kid”

2. Budweiser – “Puppy Love”

3. Doritos – “Time Machine”

4. Budweiser – “A Hero’s Welcome”

5. Coca-Cola – “It’s Beautiful”

6. Coca-Cola – “Going all the Way”

7. Bud Light Platinum – “Equalizer”

8. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee – “Seinfeld”

9. M&Ms – “Delivery”

10. Beats music app – “Ellen DeGeneres”

Are your ads creating a buzz? Try Survata and find out.

Footnotes for our fellow data geeks

  1. We interviewed 1,041 online respondents from February 3 to February 4, 2014.
  2. You can download the underlying data here.
  3. You can analyze the underlying data in Statwing here.

What will health nuts eat on Super Bowl Sunday? Nuts!

Super Bowl Sunday is generally a write-off day for most diets, as football fans commonly indulge in everything from a few brews to something called a Bacon Explosion.

Given the public discourse on Super Bowl snacks, we at Survata decided the event presented a good opportunity to gauge how people perceive some of the most popular snack food brands. We came up with a list of 39 food items, including popular brands of chips, crackers, cookies, snack bars, and fruit snacks. We showed over 1300 respondents five randomly chosen snacks from our list, and asked them to to rank the snacks in order from what they perceived to be the most healthy to the least healthy (we avoided the debate of what “healthy” actually means; respondents’ definition of “healthy” may of course vary).

We calculated an average ranking for each snack by assigning a numerical value based on each placement it received (1 for healthiest, 2 for second healthiest, etc.). Based on that total, Kashi Go Lean Bars had the highest overall rank, with an average score of just under 2. Planter’s Nuts and Nature Valley Granola Bars were a close second and third respectively. We found that Oreo was the least healthy snack (the snack with the lowest average ranking), followed by Cheetos and Little Debbie snacks. See what consumers chose as the healthiest and least healthy below, and check out the full results here.


There are obviously a number of ways to cut the data, including the percentage of times each snack was ranked healthiest or least healthy, but we found the results to be mostly consistent across all major metrics.

Our Take

While the highest and lowest ranked snacks came as no surprise, some puzzling results were found toward the middle of the list. Popchips, which has an ad campaign posturing the snack as a healthy alternative to potato chips, did not seem to resonate with the public, as the brand was nowhere near the highest ranked option. On the contrary, Welch’s Fruit Snacks ranked surprisingly high, beating out other snacks with relatively healthy reputations like Quaker Chewy Bars and Chex Mix. While we hope this report offered some interesting brand insight, we should add that we personally do not condone bringing health food to a Super Bowl party.

Is your brand sending the right messages? Try Survata and find out.

Footnotes for our fellow data geeks

  1. We interviewed 1,319 online respondents from January 28 to January 30, 2014.
  2. You can download the underlying data here.
  3. You can analyze the underlying data in Statwing here.

SparkPeople uses Survata to discover 2014′s most popular fitness goals

If you had to wait for a treadmill at the gym this morning you’ve probably already realized this fact, but fitness and wellness goals are highly popular this time of year. While the New Year’s Resolution fitness craze is practically a given, the way people enact their goals rapidly evolves with new information and trends. SparkPeople, the web’s largest and most active healthy living destination, ran a Survata survey asking nearly 500 women about their health and fitness goals to put a finger on the pulse of popular wellness topics in 2014.

Among women age 25-54 who have a health-related New Year’s Resolution, “exercise more” was selected as the top goal most often (45%), followed by “eat healthier” (23%), and “reduce stress” (13%). The most popular fitness activities respondents plan to pursue in 2014 include yoga and running, both selected 29% of the time. Many respondents would go to considerable lengths in order to reach their fitness goals, including giving up chocolate (35%) or their vacation time (6%).


For SparkPeople, which offers medically-accepted wellness resources to over 15 million registered members, it’s essential to stay in tune with their demographic. Having used other market research tools in the past, SparkPeople said they greatly benefited from Survata’s expertise. “We’ve done surveys on our own with SurveyMonkey, but having a Survata survey analyst was helpful, and ensured we crafted the questions correctly,” said Treenah Kight of SparkPeople.

From there, SparkPeople were able to get hundreds of responses from people who could benefit from their articles, interactive tools, and vibrant community of members and wellness experts. The result? SparkPeople gained a meaningful glimpse into their target customers’ upcoming goals, and gathered proprietary data for a newsworthy press release (which received widespread media pickup).

Want to find out what your target demographic cares about? Try Survata today.

Tech Trust Index shows consumers trust Google and Amazon but not Sprint and AOL

It’s no secret that tech companies amass vast stores of user information, from tax records to snapshots of pumpkin spice lattes. What’s more ambiguous is how this personal information is used. And while major Internet companies like Google, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft publish transparency reports to distance themselves from NSA spying paranoia, companies like AT&T and Verizon are decidedly more opaque.

Given the public discourse on information gathering and transparency, we at Survata were curious to see which tech companies have garnered trust among consumers. To do so, we used our consumer survey tool to ask 3,175 online respondents to rank a group of companies in order from their most to least trusted.

In tech we trust

To rank the companies, we showed respondents five companies randomly drawn from our list of 20, and asked them to rank the companies from “most trusted” to “least trusted” with personal data. We found that, at 47%, Google was ranked as the most trusted company most often, followed by Amazon and Apple at 43% and 38%, respectively. AOL, Sprint, and Snapchat were ranked as the most trusted company least often.

There are of course other ways to cut this data. When ranking the companies by highest average placement, Amazon, Google, and Apple again earned the top three spots. Snapchat, Intuit, and AOL had the lowest average placement.

Snapchat is potentially an outlier in our group of 20 companies; because it doesn’t have the massive user base of a company like Apple, Google, or Yahoo, a lower percentage of respondents would have used it. Snapchat also (perhaps unfairly) has a well-documented reputation for exchanging particularly sensitive content (read: “sexting”).

Our take

We found it interesting that Google, which arguably holds the largest quantity of information on the average tech consumer, has maintained such a high level of popular trust. Further, we were surprised to see AT&T and Verizon among the top half of most trusted companies, considering they are bucking the trend of data sharing transparency. However, we expect this index (together with the technology of the companies themselves) to rapidly evolve.

Curious if consumers trust your company? Try Survata and find out.

Footnotes for our fellow data geeks

  1. We interviewed 3,175 online respondents from December 5 to December 8, 2013.
  2. You can download the underlying data here.
  3. You can analyze the underlying data in Statwing here.

Identifying gender by handwriting — you’re probably not as good at it as you think

Although linking handwriting to psychology is considered pseudoscience, there’s some merit in predicting a person’s gender based on their scrawlings.

Whether this gender impression is formed by i’s dotted with hearts or a more subtle signifier, we at Survata were interested in gauging the public’s ability to successfully identify gender based on handwriting. To do so, we gathered five handwriting samples of each gender and presented them to 3,100 respondents using our consumer survey tool, asking if they think the handwriting belongs to a man or woman (see the footnotes for details on our methodology). Overall, we found that respondents correctly identified gender by handwriting 54% of the time.

That average is misleading, though, because it is watered down by a few samples to which responses were overwhelmingly wrong. Respondents were relatively decisive on six of the ten presented samples, with at least 60% of respondents guessing one way. This decisiveness was occasionally for the wrong option, however, as shown below (to test your own gender identification abilities, view the sample on the left before looking at the gender on the right):

Gender equality

The battle of the sexes was a draw when it comes to guessing handwriting; male and female respondents, at 54%, had a virtually equal success rate. But who is better at guessing a specific gender’s writing? It seems like it takes one to know one. Men identified male handwriting successfully 64% of the time, whereas women correctly identified male handwriting writing 59% of the time. Likewise, women were more successful than men at identifying female handwriting by a margin of 49% to 45%.

The female handwriting images in our limited sample were more confounding than the male, as respondents had better luck guessing male samples by a score of 61% to 47%.  Of course, five samples per gender is not enough to generalize which gender’s handwriting is more recognizable overall.

Our take

We were surprised that respondents weren’t better at identifying the gender behind the writings, and that so many were wrong on several of the questions. The participants who submitted handwriting samples were blind to the purpose of the survey, and the samples therefore weren’t intentionally misleading. Perhaps the average person simply isn’t as good a judge as expected.

Is the public jumping to conclusions about your image? Try Survata today to find out.

Footnotes for our fellow data geeks

  1. We obtained handwriting samples from participants recruited on All handwriting samples were from participants in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  2. We did not control for geographic location, age, ethnicity, SES status, or handedness (i.e., left or right). We do not know whether those variables affect gender recognition of a handwriting sample.
  3. We interviewed 3,100 online respondents from November 22 to November 26, 2013.
  4. You can download the underlying data here.
  5. You can analyze the underlying data in Statwing here and here.

The only Thanksgiving survey you’ll ever need: 10,000 people on what, when, and how they plan to celebrate

Thanksgiving is a day to count your blessings, enjoy time with family and friends, and possibly have the pleasure (or displeasure) of running into high school classmates in your hometown.

These holiday traditions can take myriad forms, however, so we at Survata were curious to get a handle on how people across the country will be spending their Thanksgiving Day. To do so, we used our consumer survey tool to ask 10,546 respondents about their plans.

Eating early?

Maybe it’s based on tradition, or on optimizing sustenance for a Black Friday brawl, but the time of day respondents eat their Thanksgiving meal varied significantly by region. Overall, 66% of respondents plan to have their meal between 1 and 5 p.m, with 7% planning on eating before 1 p.m. and 27% after 5 p.m. Those in the Plains region are the most likely to have an early Thanksgiving meal, as 54% of respondents answered they will eat before 3 p.m. The Far West region, on the other hand, is the least likely to have an early meal, with only 26% stating they plan to eat before 3 p.m.

Cooking for a crowd

While spending time with loved ones is obviously a popular Thanksgiving tradition, respondents’ plans range from channeling the Duggars to more of a lone wolf approach. 32% of respondents plan on sharing their Thanksgiving meal with 4 to 7 people, while 14% answered they plan to spend Thanksgiving with 1 to 3 people. 10% of respondents plan to have their meal with more than twenty people.

Poultry preparation

Although turkey is the predominant bird of choice at Thanksgiving, there are a variety of ways to prepare it. Among those planning to cook a turkey, we found that roasting turkey, at 76% of respondents, is the most popular option. 8% of respondents have delicious (albeit dangerous) plans to deep fry their turkey, and 6% will grill their turkey.

Pass the potatoes

However, we all know there are many things besides turkey that will be sending eaters into a Thanksgiving food coma. When it came to Thanksgiving side dishes, our results show that mashed potatoes are the most popular overall, as 31% of respondents listed it as their favorite side dish. Stuffing and sweet potatoes were also commonly selected, at 27% and 14% respectively.

Our take

Other commonly cited traditions included watching football, playing football (although surprisingly less than 10% of respondents planned on participating in a Turkey Bowl) volunteering at a homeless shelter, and relaxing with family. We expected to find more regional correlations in the data, and were surprised to see that most of the categories didn’t vary significantly by geography. Perhaps major Thanksgiving traditions simply transcend state bounds.

Want to gauge consumer behavior across the nation? Try Survata today.

Footnotes for our fellow data geeks

  1. We interviewed 10,546 online respondents from November 13 to November 22, 2013.
  2. You can download the underlying data here.
  3. You can analyze the underlying data in Statwing.

Global warming? 46% believe recent extreme weather an effect of climate change

Sunday marked the deadliest November tornado outbreak in Illinois history, as storms ripped through much of the state killing six and injuring many more.

The storm, notable for its huge scope and unusual seasonal timing, came soon after one of the most powerful typhoons in history devastated the Philippines, displacing an estimated 4 million people. Many refuse to believe that the two catastrophic weather events are coincidental, and instead attribute the extreme weather events to global climate change.

We at Survata were curious if the public would make a similar connection, and whether they even view global climate change as a viable concern. To find out, we used our consumer survey tool to ask 1,255 Americans if they believe Typhoon Haiyan and the recent tornadoes in Illinois are the result of global climate change. We found that 46% answered “Yes,” 25% answered “No,” while 29% are unsure.

Are humans to blame?

Our results show that 52% of respondents believe that human activity is primarily responsible for global warming, while 22% do not and 26% are not sure. Respondents who believe that climate change is caused by human activity are almost three times more likely than non-believers to think it’s the cause of recent extreme weather events. See the full breakdown below:

Cause for concern

We found that 29% of respondents are “very concerned” about global climate change, compared to just 16% who are “not at all concerned.” Unsurprisingly, we found that those who are “very concerned” are eight times more likely than their “not at all concerned” counterparts to attribute recent extreme weather events to global climate change.

Our take

It’s been shown that concern about global warming increases after catastrophic weather events, so the fact that our survey coincided with the aftermath of the Illinois tornadoes and Typhoon Haiyan represents a caveat. We also expect this month’s UN climate summit to affect public opinion, as the latest scientific findings disseminate.

Want to discover what your customer base cares about? Try Survata today.

Footnotes for our fellow data geeks

  1. We interviewed 1,255 online respondents from November 18 to November 19, 2013.
  2. You can download the underlying data here.
  3. You can analyze the underlying data in Statwing.