In a world where we find ourselves living online, it comes as no surprise that almost every aspect of business is executed digitally and in the cloud. The need for robust security systems is more critical than ever. While technology has driven innovation, it has also driven fraud which has impacted business on a global scale. Industry leading researchers have suggested that the Advertising arena alone could stand to lose upwards of $44 Billion by 2022.
The market research industry is no exception which is why it is so important to recognize the pain points. Fraudulent activity in the research arena is increasing as hostile players attempt to monetize the outcome of paid surveys. The most common fraudulent tactics are as follows:
While online fraudulent tactics are pervasive and must command attention, it’s also important to recognize that there can be false positives where the respondents suffer when our industry over corrects. For example, if two people access a survey from the same IP, they will be marked as duplicates, even if they are unique individuals. False positives are also created from overzealous models that seek to create the perfect data set. This happens when a survey taker prefers to take surveys at night, but the fraud prevention model has recognized real fraud often occurring at night. The legitimate survey taker may be marked as untrustworthy based on little evidence. Furthermore, the respondents who experience the false positives are burnt. The messaging for sessions identified as fraud is left intentionally vague so as to dissuade real malfeasance. The survey industry can be taxing to respondents due to the inherent low conversion from click to complete, especially with additional hidden security rules.
Most researchers group all fraud into “bots”, but there are important differences. Fraud can be broken down into 3 categories: DIY, bot, and clickfarms/advanced.
While bots are dangerous, there are limitations to programs that allow advanced security systems to recognize them. Consequently, bots primarily prey on weaker security systems.
Even small errors caused by fraud have an impact on the quality of the data. Large scale fraud can not only affect the integrity of the data, it can also impact the reputation of the research company. That said, the focus on fraudulent activity goes beyond the market research companies. Data Quality is important for all types of brand decisions in every aspect of business. Fraud affects the market research buyers equally as much as it impacts the research companies. While corporations use research data to influence the development of products, they also use data to provide insights into the behavior and preferences of their customers. It is critical that the data generated be dependable and actionable. Online trust in data collection is vital, and if fraudulent activity is pervasive, the integrity of both data and company will be breached.
Clearly, as with any industry, fraudulent activity is evolving every day and because of the access to rewards which can often be monetary, the market research industry is particularly vulnerable. The consequences of a fraudulent attack results in poor quality data and biased research. What it comes down to is that market research companies face an extremely difficult challenge every single day. It is more important than ever to act with urgency and focus in an effort to maintain a great respondent experience while keeping a sharp pulse on the market to minimize and even mitigate ongoing fraudulent threats.