SOURCE: MarketTools

July 01, 2008 08:30 ET

MarketTools Announces TrueSample Quality Council and TrueSample Expansion Into Europe

Luminaries Join to Improve Online Sample Quality; EU Roll Out and New Certified Partners Demonstrate Continued Industry Adoption for New Online Research Standard

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - July 1, 2008) - MarketTools today announced the formation of the TrueSample Quality Council, a premier group of executives from leading consumer, marketing and research organizations all dedicated to improving and standardizing the quality of online sample. Also today, MarketTools announced the worldwide roll out of TrueSample and early traction in Europe with the addition of Ciao Surveys, the European arm of Greenfield Online and Toluna in the United Kingdom to the TrueSample Certified Partner Program. With billions of dollars in business decisions riding on feedback from online survey takers, MarketTools, members of the TrueSample Quality Council and a network of Certified Partners are joining forces to set a new global, industry standard for the delivery of quality online market research and consumer insights.

As the online survey market soars -- more than 1 billion surveys were completed in 2007 alone and global investment in online market research is expected to surpass $4.3 billion in 2008 -- fundamental questions about who took these surveys, whether each person took the survey only once and how engaged they were in responding emerged. These questions began to undermine trust and confidence in online research. Responding to a clear industry need for an objective, scalable approach to ensuring sample quality, MarketTools launched TrueSample in April 2008.

TrueSample is the industry's only multi-layered security process for eliminating inaccuracy and fraud in online market research. Only TrueSample employs six distinct layers of validation -- three at the panel level and three at the survey level -- to catch questionable respondents. These six layers of fraud prevention and data cleansing to date have removed almost one-quarter of potential survey respondents.

According to a recent Forrester Research Report by Brad Bortner ("Is the Long Online Panel Quality Nightmare Over?" June 9, 2008): "While online panels provide vastly lower costs and increased speed, they also create heartburn and anxiety for market researchers because of the lack of confidence in online panel quality..." The report goes on to note that "[a] solution to resolve these fundamental online panel issues is at long last arriving as a result of several recent initiatives [including TrueSample]...Major sample buyers -- many market researchers and research providers -- will increasingly insist on online panels' cleanliness, and the end of shaky panel is clearly in sight."

"Inaccurate information and fraudulent behavior undermines the very integrity of online research," said John Ouren, executive vice president and general manager of panels and communities at MarketTools. "With TrueSample, MarketTools was the first to formalize its commitment to validating panelists and securing online sample, which in turn has helped increase confidence in results and ensure the greatest insights from research. Today's announcements reflect continued industry-wide and global validation for our approach. We look forward to working collaboratively with our esteemed Council and growing network of Certified Partners to proactively address issues plaguing our industry and establish the highest levels of trust and confidence in online market research."

TrueSample Quality Council Formed

MarketTools' TrueSample Quality Council brings together marketing and consumer insight leaders from across industries, including technology, financial services and retail, in a collaborative effort to address issues of sample quality and advocate for standards to ensure only high quality research panels across the industry. Inaugural members of the TrueSample Quality Council include:

--  Ted Christenson, consumer insights manager, Center for Learning &
    Experimentation, General Mills
--  Martyn Crook, senior manager, International Consumer Insights
    Toolkits, General Mills
--  Kim Dedeker, vice president, Global External Capability Leader,
    Consumer & Market Knowledge,  Procter & Gamble
--  Gayle Fuguitt, vice president, Consumer Insights, General Mills
--  Ron Gailey, senior vice president, Research and Customer Insight,
    Washington Mutual
--  Jeff Hunter, manager, Center for Learning & Experimentation, General
    Mills
--  Kevin Keith, vice president, Microsoft
--  Michael McCrary, senior vice president, Sales - North America,
    Greenfield Online
--  Keith Price, executive vice president, Global Internet Survey
    Solutions, Greenfield Online
--  Steve Schwartz, CMRi - Research - Vista, Microsoft
--  Roger Thompson, senior vice president, Research & Strategic Marketing,
    Darden Restaurants
--  Michael Walser, vice president, Washington Mutual
    

TrueSample Expansion into European Union

Following the successful roll-out of TrueSample in North America and positive industry feedback about the company's approach, MarketTools is expanding TrueSample into the European Union where sample quality is also a key concern for panel providers and market research organizations.

"Now that online research has come of age, it needs an industry-wide approach to ensure higher quality," said Andy Moore, director customer insight -- global marketing at Vodafone. "We support MarketTools' initiative and believe TrueSample is a genuine step forward."

In conjunction with the company's roll out throughout the European Union, MarketTools also named two leading European research companies to the TrueSample Certified Partner Program. Ciao Surveys, part of Greenfield Online serving the European market, and Toluna, Europe's leading independent online market research panel and online survey software provider to the global market research industry, join a network of leading sample providers. All of these organizations have had their panels validated by MarketTool's comprehensive certification process, which on average removes between 15 and 20 percent of panelists who do not meet TrueSample's stringent criteria.

About TrueSample

Traditional panel quality and panelist fraud-prevention solutions relied solely on single-vendor solutions that identify fraudulent panelists once they have begun responding to surveys -- not in indentifying them prior to entering research studies. Further, each panel vendor had its own quality initiatives and subjective measures of panel health. Finally, in 2006 and 2007, several organizations came forward to propose solutions to the sample quality issue, but their efforts focused on subjective measures like panel management and research design improvements.

TrueSample changes the paradigm, combining powerful validation, fingerprinting and de-duplicating technologies in a rigorous, systematic and objective six layer approach. The result is a solution that ensures that survey respondents are real, unique and engaged:

--  Real -- TrueSample validates all prospective panelists to assure that
    they are who they say they are, verifying the information panelists
    provide against extensive databases with objectively validated consumer
    demographics. As a result of this process, as many as 20 percent of
    potential panelists are turned away.
--  Unique -- TrueSample ensures that no respondent can take a survey
    twice. Panels from MarketTools and its partners are de-duplicated
    against one another. Then, MarketTools goes a step further, using
    digital fingerprinting to determine whether a given respondent is a
    duplicate or a professional survey-taker, eliminating undesirable
    respondents from the database and blacklisting fraudulent respondents
    across the TrueSample Certified Partner network.
--  Engaged -- MarketTools has introduced new technologies and practices
    that make it possible to ensure that surveys are completed only by
    engaged respondents. This includes:
    --  Data validation technology -- proprietary, patent-pending
        technology that correlates survey-taking time and response patterns
        to identify fraudulent behavior and remove offenders from the data
        set and the panel. Fraudulent behavior can include: speeders,
        straight-liners, satisficers, automated responses generated by a
        computer program, and geo IP violators. Offenders are eliminated.
    --  SurveyScore™ -- a patent-pending process that provides an
        objective measure of survey quality and engagement. Respondents who
        do not meet defined level of engagement are removed from the panel.

MarketTools's process is applied to both the company's own ZoomPanel™ of more than 2.5 million individuals and sample sourced from Certified TrueSample Partners extending to more than 8 million individuals worldwide.

About MarketTools

MarketTools is the leading technology and solutions provider of Customer Insight Management capabilities for the world's market leaders. Through a unique combination of best-in-class research platforms, 100-percent accurate global panels and research innovation, MarketTools enables companies to better identify new opportunities, fuel greater product success and build customer advocacy. As the first company to make online surveys widely available on the web, MarketTools continues its market-leading position by providing the broadest range of powerful, accurate and integrated customer insight technologies that empower companies to become the most customer-centric organizations in their industries. MarketTools' premier portfolio of technology-based insight brands includes Zoomerang, zTelligence, CustomerSat, TrueSample, Insight Networks, Idea Networks and ZoomPanel.

MarketTools is a privately held company with corporate headquarters in San Francisco and European headquarters in London. For more information, please visit: www.markettools.com

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