Don’t Be The Frog! What is Google Up To With Consumer Surveys?
Editor’s Note: There has been no shortage of excellent coverage of of Google’s launch of their Consumer Survey service, but in keeping with our credo here at GreenBook blog we prefer to focus on content that has some strategic focus, so who better to augment our own views on the issue than Simon Chadwick of Cambiar? It’s been awhile since Simon posted here so I’m thrilled to have a new thought piece from he and his team today on such an important issue.
One thing I forgot to mention in my own initial take on this development is what is truly disruptive about the Google launch is it’s scale, not method; Civic Science has been doing virtually the same thing for several years now and pioneered the model of “macro sample micro polls” in collaboration with content publishers. This idea isn’t new, it’s the scale of the execution and the overall strategic implications of a company like Google doing it that is. Simon does an excellent job of painting that picture for us, and I certainly hope we all pay attention.
Let’s face it – we all knew this was coming. If you were a company that possessed massive content, an awesome analytics machine and access to billions of people, wouldn’t you be looking at ways of monetizing all of that? If, in the process, you became a classic example of disruptive technology to entire industries, wouldn’t that be cool? So, why are we acting so surprised?
Google Consumer Surveys is just one little brick in the wall of Google’s march towards becoming the world’s go-to company for all things analytic and intelligence. At present, GCS looks pretty basic: two questions per “survey” (but you can string “surveys” together), $0.10 to $0.50 a response and a limited range of question types that you can utilize. Certainly not professional grade, so they must be targeting SurveyMonkey, right? Wrong. Just go through that pricing structure again. If you want to do a 4-question, general population survey with 1,000 people, it’s going to cost you $400. On SurveyMonkey, all you need is a $25 a month account to do the same thing. No, it’s the data collection companies they are after. Get a quote for the same thing from Toluna, uSamp or SSI (and we did) and the price will be four times as high.
So who is the target market? Quite clearly, it is the professional DIY research user – the brand manager, the marketer, the guy in IT or, quite possibly, the researcher who is attempting to achieve more with less. And the pitch to them is fairly compelling – sample that delivers more accurate results than that from any panel (so they say) at a price that cannot be matched and ‘now’.
The professional research community may well look upon this and conclude that it isn’t ‘real’ research; after all, it can’t handle complex innovation projects or brand trackers, can it? Yeah, well that was what DEC said about personal computers and what Polaroid said about digital photography. A disruptive technology will always enter a market with a supposedly inferior product at a ridiculously low price. The establishment writes it off and then it’s ‘boil the frog’ time. Established companies do not realize that the interloper is slowly boiling them until it overtakes them and they are out of business.