Serial entrepreneur, Matt co-founded uSamp (also known as United Sample, Inc.) in March 2008 and serves as its co-president. Matt co-founded goZing.com and served as its President from goZing’s inception until its acquisition by Greenfield Online. Matt holds a BS from California State University Northridge.
Akshay Kanyal: How and when did the idea of creation of uSamp germinate?
Matt Dusig: In 2007, Gregg Lavin and I dreamed of how to build a better sampling company. The foundation of the company would be built around three tenants (uSamp 3 T’s): Technology, Transparency, Traffic. Technology makes our business more efficient and automated. Transparency allows our clients to access to our platforms in various ways, including via API integration. Traffic is what we sell: Access to people (panelists) who visit our consumer websites and mobile apps.
Akshay Kanyal: What were the challenges you faced in building your company?
Matt Dusig: We had a lot of technology to build quickly in order to catch up with our bigger competitors. We needed to develop a fully globalized sampling system capable of sampling in multiple languages, rewarding panelists in many currencies, fraud controls to enable high quality respondent data and so much more. Also, because our business grew so quickly, we needed access to outside capital to continue to fuel the business’ growth trajectory.
Akshay Kanyal: Can you briefly summarize your current roles and responsibilities?
Matt Dusig: I currently oversee global sales, marketing, product and technology for the company’s core global sampling business.
My partner Gregg oversees global supply of traffic and business development opportunities. We have the perfect balance of management over the supply and demand sides of the business.
Akshay Kanyal: Can you sum up the service suite provided by uSamp?
Matt Dusig: Primarily, uSamp offers access to global panelists and river traffic. Both are available by either calling us or emailing us to place an order, or secondarily, clients can log on to our DIY panel access platform called SampleMarket, to price and request panelists immediately.
We also offer API integration into SampleMarket for server-to-server automated sample delivery. Clients also have access to the uSamp Mobile Army™, which is a large mobile-only panel of respondents who have downloaded and installed uSamp’s iPoll consumer app (for Android and iOS).
We also build proprietary, white label research panels for many of the largest companies in the world. Lastly, we offer a DIY survey-authoring platform called Instant.ly™ that allows anyone to build surveys and buy sample in one easy-to-use solution.
Akshay Kanyal: Almost half the year has passed – are you moving in the right direction as planned?
Matt Dusig: Yes, we are on target against our projections for 2013.
Akshay Kanyal: How does uSamp provide valuable insights to the clients using technology?
Matt Dusig: uSamp provides valuable insights to clients in a wide range of ways. With uSamp’s mobile app iPoll we utilize geofencing technology, which provides companies with a level of geographic verification they have never had before.
With geofencing technology, we are able to know when someone is in a specific store/location, thus making sure that we are only surveying real customers on location.
Also, by using the mobile app, we can assure that customers are taking a survey while the experience in fresh in their mind because they are taking it while they are in the store or restaurant. They are not responding to these questions hours or days later.
Akshay Kanyal: Can you share some success stories you recently had with your clients?
Matt Dusig: We have done some exciting work within the last year – one of the highlights was the work we did with NBCUniversal during the 2012 Summer Olympics. Using the Instant.ly platform and our iPoll Mobile ArmyTM, NBCUniversal measured viewing behavior of prime-time events, specifically when the user had heard the results earlier.
Instant.ly research indicated that people who knew the results ahead of time were more likely to watch the tape-delayed primetime event.
uSamp also worked with EyeTrackShop, a company that provides the platform for online eye-tracking studies. By utilizing uSamp’s self-serve solution, EyeTrackShop was able to expand their offering and make studies available globally.
We were able to provide them with real-time access to millions of uSamp respondents with the SampleMarket platform.
Akshay Kanyal: What Quality measures you are practicing to ensure authentic online samples?
Matt Dusig: Managing panel and data quality is an industry-wide challenge that many of our clients face every day. Our philosophy on panel quality runs deep; we strongly believe that there is no one singular solution that will provide full protection against fraudulent activity.
As such, we employ a multi-layered approach, which carries throughout the lifetime of a panelist. We capture unique machine ID and verify via a digital fingerprint, which helps to prevent both natural and malicious duplication.
We also utilize a registration scoring system, which is a method that assigns points to several user behaviors and reviews these scores across a spectrum. The key to authentic online samples is to never get complacent.
You must continue to innovate and scrutinize quality through such ongoing consistency and red-herring checks.
Akshay Kanyal: How do you ensure that your panel members are engaged and active?
Matt Dusig: Maintaining an active and engaged audience is challenging. The average online survey is well over 20 minutes and these studies are often peppered with extensive grids and lengthy response lists.
While these designs are critical for the research, they can often cause attrition in our panel. Additionally, the dynamic of research is different than what it was when online MR first emerged. All too often, our clients are looking for a very finite audience.
Respondents will often disqualify since they don’t meet the survey criteria. This negative experience can generate a lot of complaints and deter people from participating in the future. There are several things at uSamp that we do to combat this situation one example is dynamic profiling.
Through advanced technology, we are able to screen our respondents on the fly and store this information in our system. If we know we need a certain hard-to-find target, we can promote key questions in our system to not only predict future capacity, but also build the needed pool to get the study completed when it goes into field. We also take a lot of pride in our proprietary reward engine, which we have directly built and sourced internally (sourcing over 200 electronic rewards).
We are very generous with our panelists, because we know their loyalty will pay off.
Akshay Kanyal: How are you planning to maintain a competitive edge given new players entering online data collection market?
Matt Dusig: We believe that our competitive edge stems from our technology advancements around mobile, location-based surveying and our innovations around DIY survey authoring and DIY sampling.
Akshay Kanyal: Internet penetration rate is relatively poor in many developing countries – how can a panel company reach out to respondents and be more representative of national psyche?
Matt Dusig: We work closely with our clients to ensure that they achieve representative results.
We maintain an extensive library of international census data, so that we can stratify our samples properly. Of course, there are instances when we recommend a mixed-mode methodology where other techniques may be utilized to ensure representative results (in-person, phone etc.).
Each country presents its own opportunities and challenges; we have an extensive global footprint with about half of our panel coming from outside of the US. Procuring online traffic has always been a strength for us and we’ve been able to serve our clients in this area with great success and capacity.
Akshay Kanyal: What forecast you will like to make for Online Panel Industry 10 years from now?
Matt Dusig: We believe that a majority of market research projects for many retail or CPG companies will be conducted via a mobile smartphone device. We also believe that companies that procure large amounts of sample will see the efficiencies presented by automating the delivery of sample vs. the manual processes we have today.
So I think the “Online Panel Industry” will morph beyond just pure online, which is already happening today.
Akshay Kanyal: Your favorite sport and what contribution it has in your learning process?
Matt Dusig: I love cycling. The key to being a great cyclist is endurance and patience. Like in business, endurance is paramount to building a successful long-standing business. Building great companies takes time and you need the stamina to endure the ups and downs. In business, patience is key.
Knowing when to strike out ahead of the pack and when to hold back and wait is an art that most executives learn over time.
Akshay Kanyal: Any inspirational message for the youngsters who are starting their career in Online Panel Industry?
Matt Dusig: Break the mold of what has been done in the past and be brave enough to create new models for the future. Many in our industry don’t truly understand the value of the socially networked world and the technology that powers it. I think those who focus their careers around the technology of knowledge and insights will create valuable and rewarding careers for themselves.
Akshay Kanyal writes survey research reviews on his popular blog Online MR. He’s an avid blogger, brand consultant and a content marketing expert, helping business owners to craft content that sells.
He provides content marketing advice to start-ups and innovation driven companies. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org