This class has illustrated the importance of data collection, surveys, and understanding the target you wish to communicate with. I find it incredible the amount of data collection that is done for a specific group or product! For instance, surfing around Simmons I was able to look up a specific age and race demographic of individuals who have purchased Peter Pan Peanut Butter within the last 6 months. I understand Simmons is a powerful program - but my goodness - I felt floored at the programs ability to give me a semi-confident set of numbers. I immediately called in one of my physics major roommates just to get their opinion on the data and they were impressed as well as mildly uncomfortable with the fact that such data exists.
Since entering the School of Journalism I have continually become more aware with the fact that data like this exists nearly everywhere if you look for it. I believe the Simmons instance was one of the cool "ah-ha" moments for me, regardless of the fact that I've used the program for a project a semester or two ago. Simmons collects data through large sample groups that require people to take surveys on all the information that is in the program. Another interesting application of surveys in my opinion are survey sites.
Webpages such as BigSpot.com, SurveyMonkey, GetPaidSurveys, SwagBucks, and countless other websites offer rewards and paid compensation for your opinions. I think these are very interesting sites that are fairly new in terms of the conventional survey methods that have been around for countless years. I don't know much about these sites, how legit they are, and if an individual is able to actually make money through them; but I can see how they work. If a company is willing to compensate people for their opinions and input on a product or idea, the company is that much more in touch with their potential consumers. One real life example of someone I know who takes online surveys frequently is my older sister. I'm not sure which site she goes through, but I do know she receives gift cards for stores such as Express, Victoria's Secret, and Target fairly often. She also gets free magazine subscriptions from time to time I believe. These gift cards are often worth 20 to 40 dollars, and she seems to think her time and effort is totally worth it! I agree, as 40 free dollars to Target would be wonderful, but alas, I still have yet to participate.
Ultimately, I think these sites are very interesting. I often see a BigSpot.com commercial on TV and usually think about the website through a lens aided by this class. I think about what the website is gaining, what the survey taker is gaining, and what the company who sponsors the survey is gaining. Although I can't be certain, it seems as though all three parties win whenever an individual decides to participate.
Perhaps I'll give it a try soon...