Can Anyone be a Market Researcher?

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•Recently, Google announced that it was offering Google Consumer Surveys ( to anyone wanting to do marketing research. Google says that the service is for anyone from Fortune 500 companies to “the local bike shop.”It is promoted as fast, accurate, and a low cost alternative to traditional marketing research. The Google survey website notes, “With Google Consumer Surveys, you choose your target audience, type your question and watch the results roll in within hours. Get complete results in days; not weeks.” Google notes that users can test product concepts, track brands, measure consumer satisfaction and more.

•In an interview with Paul McDonald, a creator of Google Consumer Surveys, he addresses several concerns from the marketing research industry about the new service. He says, “I think your concerns about the quality of the data from self-service survey platforms are well known in the research community,” McDonald wrote. “As the mantra goes, ‘Garbage in, garbage out’… We try to encourage survey best practices in our help content, program policies and by providing survey templates to guide new researchers. In the end we are providing a platform which can be used to create professional and statistically accurate surveys.”


1. Go to Google’s Consumer Survey website. After clicking through how it works, and examples, do you feel competent to create an Internet survey? Why or why not?

2. Do you think the marketing research industry should be concerned about Google Consumer Surveys? Why?

3. Most traditional consumer surveys conclude with a series of demographic questions such as gender, age, location, and so forth. Google Consumer Surveys don’t ask these questions. Instead it infers approximate demographic and location information using the respondent’s IP address and DoubleClick cookie. The respondent’s nearest city can be determined from their IP address. Income and urban density can be computed by mapping the location to census tracts and using census data to infer income and urban density. Gender and age group can be inferred from the types of pages the respondent has previously visited in the Google Display Network using the DoubleClick cookie. Google says that is information is used to ensure each survey receives a representative sample and to enable survey researchers to see how sub-populations answered questions. Inferring this demographic data enables Consumer Surveys researchers to ask fewer questions in a survey, which in turn increases the number of consumers that respond. Do you think this methodology is better than simply asking the demographic questions? Do you see any problems with Google’s methodology?

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