Ad Research Group Issues Call For 'Knowledge' About Impact Of Online Research

As part of a Madison Avenue effort to get a handle on the shift toward online survey research, the Advertising Research Foundation has issued a "Call For Knowledge" in an effort to glean insights on what is currently known about the "validity, projectibility, reliability and, any other factors" influencing the quality of marketing and media research conducted via online survey methods. The move is the first tangible step by the new Online Quality Research Council, which the ARF formed recently to examine the impact online survey research is having on the industry.

By doing so, the ARF was responding to a growing industry concern that marketers, agencies and media companies are gravitating toward online survey methods because they are easy, inexpensive and generate faster results than traditional interview, mail and telephone methods, but that they may not necessarily be as representative.

Last week, as part of its first half earnings report, WPP Group, the parent of media agencies like MindShare, Mediaedge:cia, and MediaCom, which also is one of the world's largest marketing and media research suppliers, indicated the shift toward online research is having a materially positive impact on its bottom line.

"As more market research is executed on the web, both revenue and direct costs are reduced," WPP stated.

The ARF said it is looking to obtain as much knowledge as possible on the impact of the shift, and promised to keep information about individual companies "confidential." The foundation described the move as a "discovery" process, and hopes to compile and publish a booklet on its findings in preparation the new council's first meeting on Sept. 10 in New York.

The ARF said it also plans to launch a Web site posting updates on the online research quality initiative.

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