As several recent elections on both sides of the Atlantic have proven, pollsters can easily be wrong.
To learn more about the crisis of confidence in the polls, we caught up with Don Vaughn, Ph.D., product manager of data analytics firm Invisably, who claims to have predicted the outcome of the U.S. presidential election at most high point of precision.
According to Vaughn, a fundamental overhaul of traditional polling methods is needed, with an emphasis on real-time research.
What is the difference between a poll and a survey?
Polls traditionally focus on measuring one thing, such as an election race. Surveys usually involve a larger set of questions on a topic and attempt to collect more data.
Why do you say that traditional polls have become obsolete?
To be clear, it’s not that traditional polling is obsolete in the sense that it is no longer performed – it is obsolete in the sense that it is outdated.
The problem is, these outdated survey data collection practices are still the most popular and gaining the most attention. Many surveys are conducted person-to-person over the phone, which in itself results in bias in the data collected. We need to move to more anonymous, digital-age surveys that fit into our daily lives and are not disruptive. Invisible real-time search solves this problem.
What is preventing Facebook or Google from launching a similar project?
Google already has a survey tool, but it’s designed to generate income or generate views on content, not to collect completely unbiased data. Invisibly is different in that its goal is to protect user data and privacy, while achieving the most accurate results possible without having a paywall or content blocking feature.
How far are we from a 100% AI survey solution?
I imagine we are not that far. There has certainly been innovation in this space. It’s one thing to ask someone who they’re voting for, but there are examples of AI making election predictions based on social media sentiment and not asking voters directly. AI isn’t perfect, but inferences could possibly be made with precision without directly interacting with voters.
What is the holy grail for survey professionals?
The holy grail is to be able to survey a large random sample of people and have them answer several questions. Additionally, you need to be able to reach specific groups of people (for example, Nike may only want to interview people who have purchased Nike products in the past).
Invisably’s real-time search product directs the polling and market research space to find the largest random sample of respondents, and we strive to facilitate communication between brands and individuals belonging to a desired cohort. (for example, people who have a verified purchase of a Nike Product).
What trends have you identified in the market research industry in 2021?
There are trends that apply not just to market research, but to research in general. There has been a decrease in face-to-face investigations due to the pandemic. This means an increase in other types of surveys like telephone surveys. However, we recently saw the benefits of Invisably online polls proven by telephone polls due to the chaos that occurred with the 2020 presidential election, for which many of the top polls have always been conducted by telephone. and ended up being a long way from the actual election. results. Some major research institutions such as Pew Research have shut down in-person surveys due to the pandemic and were exploring telephone surveys. The question is whether or not the trends in virtual research will continue after the pandemic.