Greg McCullough, COO of TapResearch

Rebuilding market research on free to play apps reach and responsibility

When we started TapResearch in 2013, we believed that the ability to reach quality respondents was the biggest barrier to massive growth in the market research industry. This was built on our prior experience building tech businesses without rapid access to prospective user insights.
Unlike the vast majority of sample companies, we set out to put surveys into free-to-play games and apps, reaching users where they already spend their time. This gives us potential access to billions of daily active users, with zero per-user acquisition cost. That kind of global, on-demand panel is the holy grail for many kinds of market research.

This enormous potential comes with an enormous challenge and responsibility. The vast majority of these respondents have never taken surveys online for a reward. We are responsible for introducing them to surveys on mobile devices, building trust, and retaining those users by providing a quality experience and reasonable reward.

Imagine your first experience as a respondent being a string of disqualifications, followed by a 10 question battery of grid questions. This is not a great recipe for retaining new users or encouraging quality responses.

We have built yield management algorithms to focus on surveys with good rewards and high completion rates. In the past year, this has powered a 3x increase in yield for our app publisher partners. However, these changes alone are not enough to achieve the 100x growth we see ahead of us.

This post outlines how we plan to change respondent experience more rapidly, what it means for you as a buyer, and how we can grow the user-powered research world together.


Respondent experience is king

Respondent experience is a constant focus of our whole business, so much that we abbreviate it “RX” internally to save time.

While our product design can improve RX through onboarding flows, profiling design, clear reward messaging, and customer support, the primary driver of RX is the client survey quality.

As it stands today, much of the survey inventory we see has major RX problems.
  • Surveys are too long
  • Survey completability is too low - IR, CR, complexity
  • Surveys can have broken redirects or outright broken questions on certain devices
  • Mobile compatibility
  • Difficult question formats (e.g. grid)
  • Scary privacy/data screens

We have seen good progress on mobile compatibility and survey length over the years, but the median survey completion length is still ~8 minutes.

How RX unlocks 100x sample

We are still scratching the surface of the potential Free to Play user base. The vast majority of daily users of the apps we are integrated in do not navigate to the surveys section on a daily basis. This is a pragmatic publisher choice because taking high-value, 10+ minute surveys is only appropriate when the user has the time and intent to explore those activities. However, publishers are highly motivated to create far more touchpoints in their app for surveys with a short effort and reliable reward.

With better inventory, each app we are currently integrated with would provide access to 10x as many of their users on a regular basis. That expansion in turn makes it easier for us to grow our publisher app network, giving access to another 10x+ apps in short order.

This unlocks crazy possibilities for research and polling, accessing thousands of respondents in small geographies or extremely difficult demographic targeting in very short timelines.

Accelerating change

As a part of the market research sampling industry, we are doing our best to collaborate with research buyers to improve RX on a case-by-case basis. This is moving the needle slowly and steadily for all of us.

In addition, we are making policy changes to directly shape the kind of survey inventory our respondents experience to ultimately deliver much more sample to our buyers.

Minimum CR and maximum LOI rules by country

Two of the simplest things we can control without a close knowledge of the survey content itself are conversion rate (CR) and length (LOI). These are measurable values that directly impact user satisfaction. A higher conversion rate (or completion rate) is always better and shorter is always better (if the reward is sufficient).

Note: CR is the actual recorded percentage of completes out of the entrants. This is initially impacted by incidence rate but also factors in technical or design challenges with the survey. It’s the all-in metric for user success.

As of Q2 2021, we have implemented new thresholds within our system for minimum CR and maximum LOI.

In the US, these values are currently 8% minimum CR and a max LOI of 26 minutes. Internationally, the minimum CR ranges from 1-5%, depending on the country.

Over time, we plan to adjust these values toward shorter, more completable inventory. Our project management team is actively communicating these thresholds to buyers.

We want your feedback

We welcome critical feedback from industry buyers on these changes, as market research is a collaborative process between design, data collection, and analysis. Please reach out to us at research@tapresearch.com with thoughts and questions.

We recognize that research buyers with external constraints may not be well served by these changes. If you have a long LOI project or low IR project, we want to hear from you to see if we can still meet your needs.

From our experience, many long LOI projects can be shortened by accepting profiling data points directly from us as URL parameters, or by leveraging our targeting capabilities.

Similarly, most of the low IR projects we see can be turned into high IR projects by using a combination of the demographic targeting capabilities we have in house. Long term, our profiles team is on a mission to expand our targeting capabilities and your input is critical to doing that effectively.

Let’s build real-time insights solutions together

We are guided by our mission: “TapResearch helps decision-makers reach any audience and get answers in seconds”

We believe we are still in the first innings of our story and need more partners to help us make it happen more quickly. If you are a research technology platform or sample buyer with scale and speed needs that seem impossible, give us a call. We want to collaborate with you to unlock the vast potential of our mobile users and make our shared vision a reality.

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