Meaningless Surveys

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Random Survey.jpg

When googling "bizarre survey results" the third option that came up was 25 Strange Questions Surveys. Since it was so high in the search results, I figured there would be a direction to it. There was no direction at all, all 25 questions were completely random. Questions ranged from, "what color socks are you wearing right now," to, "what would you do if you were invisible for the day." Every response was open to type in your own response so it did not completely limit the options on most questions. The survey had no meaning to it and there was no notification of where the results would go. It just recommended posting the results on a social media site. This experience highlighted a couple of things for me. One, that some very meaningless things can obtain the third spot on the google search. Two, that some surveys truly do not matter. And three, that I should never search with the word "bizarre."

Statistical Significance

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The above article is titled, "What Every Researcher Should Know About Statistical Significance," and it provides good insight to some key questions.

What is statistical significance?
The article boils this down to two important concepts, sampling error and confidence level. These are two key features when deciding whether survey results can be extended to the larger population.

How large a sample is enough?
The article outlines the process of deciding on a good sample size. It starts with deciding what percentage of error is acceptable and then calculating backwards to find the appropriate range of participants. "The sample precision analysis can help a researcher make an informed decision regarding sample reliability." - Data Star Inc.

What statistical tests do I need to know about?
This portion of the article describes both the Z-test of proportions, and the T-test of independant means. Sample precision analyses typically uses the T-test to estimate an appropriate sampling error. One-tailed and two-tailed tests are also mentioned for testing directional difference and the difference of groups.

The Statistics of Crosstabs and More

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The article above provides a clear break down of how crosstabs and other survey data analyses are described statistically. It covers the descriptive statistic sand goes on to break down the meaning of the mean, median, and mode of the data as well as standard deviation and standard error. For all of you lucky readers at home, the mean is the average, the median is the middle value of a data set, and the mode is the number that occurs most often.

Standard Deviation and Standard error provide insight regarding the mean of a distribution. Standard Deviation describes the average distance between a number and the mean. Standard Error reflects the reliability of the mean. A large standard error produces data that is not trustworthy.

A Solid Middleman

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GreenBook calls itself, "The Guide for Buyers of Marketing Research," and they have been operating for fifty years now. The main features of their website include options to find marketing research firms and focus group facilities all over the world. The web page does consist of much more and promotes many research articles on its home page. What interests me is the fact this website acts as a middle man, a form of Google in its own sorts, for research and it as strong of a source as it is.

I understand that organizing and rating a chaotic thing is very impressive but I find it interesting that sites like this still function when Google is doing what it is doing in the research world. They are one of the few companies that in the middle man business that has been able to stay head and shoulders above the competition and it is impressive.

Digital Takeover

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The article above discusses the IBM 2012 Holiday Benchmark Reports. The numbers represented show a ridiculous trend. On Black Friday mobile traffic grew by more than 67%. Mobile sales doubled to 16% and the overall sales for Black Friday increased 20.7%. The research that stood out to me was the break down of tablet and smart phone purchases. The iPad beat out any other smart phone and tablet with roughly 10 percent of the traffic for online shopping. The iPhone followed with 8.7 percent. I wonder if the Nook, Kindle, and other smart phones will look at these statistics and try to model their ability to shop on them.

The article does not describe how they got the information but I find it very interesting that they can track all of the different sales from different apparatuses. There must be some form of tracker within each purchase that says what kind of device the purchase was made over.

Top 10 Innovative Companies

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Greenbook conducted a study that outlines the most innovative companies. The rankings, based on mentions, are as follows:
Brainjuicer 60
TNS Global 32
Vision Critical 32
Synovate 31
Ipsos 25
Nielsen 25
Anderson Analytics 21
Itracks 18
GFK 17
Peanut Labs 16

"Research professionals who participated in the study were recruited from various sources including the GreenBook member directory, direct email invitations to sponsor contact lists as well as open recruiting through several social media research groups and social sites" -Leonard Murphy. To get a grasp on innovation they looked at new technology adoption and attitudes towards methodologies. They use their resources well and the top ten actually forms an interesting list. Often times with a study like this numbers can be very misleading due to company connections taking the surveys in order to boost the company's status. The results actually represent the top ten companies that make people think they are innovative.

How Do They Come Up With These?

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Nothing blows my mind more than seeing all of my friends that go to the University of Wisconsin - Madison post ridiculous statistics and surveys that show them as the best at something. They don't bother to check sources or figure out how the data was collected, they just assume it is correct. What I want to know is how some nobody research groups make actually collect data to figure out which school has the most attractive women, best traditions, and which school is a bigger party school. Below are links to survey results showing the top 10 party schools and the top college football traditions.

What possible data can they pull to claim that out of the hundreds of colleges and universities, these are the top ranked. I am sick of all of the clutter on the internet and information that melts peoples' brains. The other survey puts Wisconsin's Jump Around tradition as number 1, over all other traditions. Even the traditions that have actual meaning and history. The world will never make sense but to my friends in Madison, the world makes too much sense I guess. There needs to be a data clean up of all of the crap online.

Water Survey

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Upon taking the bottled water survey that was emailed to us from Professor Ball two questions popped into my mind. What is the point of this survey and will those questions and answers actually provide any useful information.

I went into the survey expecting there to be a clear direction within some of the questions but I really could not find one. I understand that the creator is developing the question format but I feel as though none of the questions should be included in an honors thesis level survey. After taking that survey I could not tell you if it had to do with sustainability, recycling, general statistics about drinking bottled water, or consumer behaviors.

For a ten question, open answer format I thought the questions limited responses and actually guided them into a description that is not typical to how bottled water consumption would be described. Some questions were worded poorly in the fact that I truthfully could not answer properly. I wish I could open the survey back up to provide specific examples but I cannot.

Evaluating Specific Strategic Communications

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The above link shows one of Samsung's advertisements for the new Galaxy S3 phone. I want to evaluate this piece of strategic communications because it is doing something that not many brands decide to do, it is directly targeting the iPhone 5. Apple is not a brand that companies typically try to bash because they have been so dominant. In the ad they mock people waiting in line to get the iPhone talking about ridiculous features of the iPhone and eventually shows people with the Galaxy S3 doing things that blow their mind.

I think that initially this seemed like a hit but overall it is a major fail for the following reasons. First, they gave a lot of exposure to Apple stores and mentioned the new phone many times. If consumers can't hear the TV, they will think it is an ad for the iPhone, overall it provides free advertising for Apple. On top of this, they are insulting consumers that they are also targeting. Some consumers do not like competitive ads and this will hurt them. Finally, they are awaking a sleeping giant. Apple typically has a very consistent, respectable advertising campaign but this ad changes the game. Apple has already started to fire back and I only expect it to get worse.

Are Interest Emails Effective?

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Since joining the School of Journalism and Mass Communication I have been the target of various surveys, research tests, and focus groups. The University of Minnesota loves its list serve emails and the SJMC loves them as well. Every week I receive several emails asking me to participate in their research efforts and then it hit me, is this method actually effective for them? I personally do not participate in any studies unless a class requires it. The document below includes two screen shots of emails I received in the same day asking me to participate.

Interest Emails.docx

I understand that it is convenient to email the list serve in order to try and get interest but where should the line be drawn? With so many emails being sent out students are becoming desensitized to them and just delete them as they reach their inbox.
The first email wants students to join a focus group to provide information about the Journalism Library. The second email seeks input about two journalism classes. I feel like the most effective way to get results for these would be to survey people that are actually in the library. They should select a class or two to go into and have them fill out the survey as part of the class. Research is such a big part of journalism that it should be normal to interrupt a class for a survey. For participants in the second email, they should go directly into those classes as well as upper division classes and have them take the survey.

Starbucks Survey

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I received a Facebook invite to do a survey for Starbucks. Typically I would decline this notification but I saw that I could win a $5 gift card so I figured I would go through with it. Their incentive was effective for me and I am sure it worked for many more. The surveyors utilized a convenience method because I saw that it was Facebook friends of certain people that were asked to do the survey. The following document includes the Facebook invite page as well as the first page of the survey.


I thought the survey structure was pretty effective. The first question filters out the non coffee drinkers. From there on the question format included multiple choice questions that lead from one to the next. The only problem was with the question regarding age. The age choices were not equal segments. Other than that the colors were neutral and gave a Starbucks feel.

Relevant Insights

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When Googling research vendors, the first three slots are filled links to Relevant Insights at I found it interesting that they paid a lot of money to be in those top spots when their website is rather weak.


The pictures include images of the home page. It is very plain and looks like a spam email. The second image shows two interesting tools they have under the Research Tools tab. A sample size calculator and margin of error calculator are provided and it seems pretty interesting. Overall, the website is split up well to get to the information the viewer needs. However, it is nothing special for being the top couple spots on the Google search.

The Future of Consumer Panels

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Here is an interesting article on the future of control panels. The article is developed around the testing food and brands but the ideas are still unique. They discuss interactive options, touch screen refrigerators and other unique ways in which panels may be conducted in the future.

The article can be found here:

Do Looks Help Resumes?

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An interesting study was conducted to see whether peoples' attractiveness help in the application process. They had 180 participants act as a recruitment officers and review applications. They looked at good applications with and without pictures as well as mediocre applications with and without pictures. With a good application, it was found that having a picture attached did not benefit them. However, for mediocre applicants, the attractive people that included pictures were actually found to have a better chance of getting an interview. The study can be found here:

I think it is interesting to have random people role play in research but I feel like the results have to be taken with a grain of salt. Being a recruitment officer takes a certain mind set and trusting the results from a random sample does not seem like a great idea. Overall, it is a very interesting study.

Death Row Meal Selection

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Cornell University Food and Brand Lab used public records to analyze inmates' final meal choices before being put to death. I thought it was an interesting topic to research and an interesting way in which to research it. The summary of the research can be found here:

It is not surprising that vegitables and fruits were not requested often. However, I think it is interesting that almost 40% of inmates requested a branded food or drink. Comfort foods make sense for the situation. In terms of research, public record seems to be a flawless approach for such a specific study because it is fact and you are assured minimal error. There is a response or data for every person, the only problem is if the meal is entered incorrectly.