How Blockchain Technology Completely Disrupts Traditional Market Research

Press Release / 02.09.2019
Why Blockchain? Blockchain transaction ID’s on every provider’s (survey panelists) submissions (data exchange) creates an environment of transparency never before delivered across the Market Research Industry.

Insights Network has launched INSTAR Blockchain, one of the most unique blockchain technology use cases the world has ever seen. In this post, we explore how our blockchain market research network works from a technical perspective and how the technology improves the quality of data, reduces cost, fraud, and empowers the creators of data.

Below, we highlight a few of the most common problems with the traditional market research industry, which hasn’t innovated standard practices since the beginning of the Internet.

Problem: Low quality users. Unverified, fraudulent data. Traditional Panels simply allow user sign ups and self selection of demographic information which we refer to as profile values (Age, Gender, Income Level, Number of Kids, Pet owner, etc.). IP address detection is the backbone of determining if a consumer should be allowed to participate in a survey. In some cases, a method called “river sampling” is used to survey respondents in real time, in which anyone accessing a survey link begins to be screened with demographic questions and routed into a relevant survey (if there is one available). This leads to a poor user experience, which we discuss in another point in this blog post.

Solution: Verified blockchain accounts. Committed values are assigned as hashes to INSTAR blockchain accounts after undergoing verification. Insights Network Blockchain verified accounts are assigned hashes which allow the accounts to participate with smart contracts. Identities are verified by third party verification partners, and profile values are committed as indecipherable hashes, making it impossible to know what values are assigned to each user. We use our patent pending zero knowledge proof identity verification scheme that acts as a filter to ensure the verification partners can not follow the documents they are verifying to the blockchain. A full disclosure of our patent pending technology will be announced and detailed publicly before the end of 2019. Below you see the records of account verifications happening in real time and recorded on the blockchain. In this instance, the account “fbtiezh3sty4” has received verification credentials assigned to their account and posted as a “commit” to the INSTAR Blockchain.

Problem: Horrible user experience. When taking surveys from traditional market research platforms, a method called “river sampling” is used to survey respondents in real time, in which anyone accessing a link begins to be screened with demographic questions and routed into a relevant survey (if there is one available). This leads to a poor user experience where the user is constantly getting bounced from surveys halfway through taking them. This is a complete waste of the survey taker’s time and causes huge frustration amongst panelists — leading to poor panel retention. For example, a requester can set a requirement that only 30–40 year old males, who drive a white car, own a dog, and have mortgage debt qualifies for the survey being offered. Rather than having these values determined up front before serving the user, they ask them as the survey taker is going through the survey. Some surveys can take up to 45 minutes to complete. Imagine being 25 minutes through a survey only to get bounced when they ask if you own a pet and you say no. This happens to the majority of survey takers.

Solution: Pre-Determined “Matches” before offering survey opportunities to users. The committed values to each users’ blockchain account and the local storage of encrypted profile values on a user’s device are discoverable by smart contracts on the INSTAR Blockchain. Each time a survey opportunity is created and funded it enters the Insights Network Data Exchange Smart Contract. The contract then polls every device connected to the network looking for matches to surveys being requested. The same targeting criteria as traditional market research products can be set by the requester, but rather than let anyone on a local IP address access the survey — only to bounce unqualified participants later — the smart contract searches the network for live devices and only displays survey opportunities to providers who match the exact criteria set forth by the requesters. This creates a much better user experience. We use what’s called a Garbled Circuit to evaluate the encrypted profiles values of each user to determine a “match”. The encrypted demographic data that is polled for eligibility is never decrypted during the matching process — giving the user complete control over the visibility of their data. Here is how a match is documented on the blockchain:

Once a match is determined, a survey opportunity becomes visible to the provider. The user can view the compensation offered for completing the survey, the profile data being requested along with their submission, and gives consent when exchanging their profile data and responses to the survey. The answer submitted is indecipherable as a hash.

Problem: Can you really trust the data? Most panel companies who complete survey sample for brands provide data sets to the brands without any transparency. Previously, the industry was plagued with the sharing of personally identifiable information, also known as “PII”. There has been a major shakeup, however, with the launch of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU. It is now illegal to collect personally identifiable information on consumers and sell that data to third parties without the consent of the consumer. Without being able to share the PII of consumers, it is more difficult to provide transparency on who exactly the users being surveyed are. Regardless of this fact, most online panel companies have databases of completely unverified users, and trust in humans is the only determinant of the quality of the data.

Solution: Blockchain verifiable transaction ID’s. When a sample is run on the Insights Network, blockchain transaction ID’s are associated with each respondent. This creates an audit trail unavailable in the current market research industry. There is now a clear record of panelist submissions and the associated profile values of each panelists. Beyond transparency, these transaction ID’s also serve as your record of consent that the consumers you surveyed and made a data exchange with consented to the data exchange you paid them for. Part of GDPR law requires requesters to keep records of consent from their subjects. Using Insights Network, this feature is built in to the end to end experience.

Below is a screenshot of a data export from a recent survey sponsored by Insights Network Company on the INSTAR Blockchain. As a requester, this is the data you paid for, and the export of the data you receive. As an added feature, Insights Network uses one-time pad encryption on all of your data you paid for. What this means is Insights Network can not snoop into the data sets you pay for as a requester. Once you export the data, that is the only time it can be exported.

Problem: Slow invoicing and turnaround time on revenue. Current Market research industry invoicing can take 60–90 days minimum for a brand to pay out the researchers. This means the panelists are then stuck waiting for their payouts as well. The core reasoning for this is the lack of quality data and fraudulent survey responses that need to be evaluated and filtered out of the final data sets. This can take brands weeks to comb through the data and determine which parts of the data sets are usable and which are fraud. This is an especially painful experience for the panel Company as they wait to hear back from their brand, and essentially be told by the brand how much they’re going to get paid for the data sets produced by the panelists.

Solution: Upfront data verification and smart contract paid data exchange. As mentioned throughout this post, the verification of profile values, matches on the blockchain, and smart contract governance create a much more efficient, and high quality end to end experience. The final piece to document is the payment scheme. Because the surveys become available to a pre-determined, pre-verified audience, the payment occurs immediately and is governed by the smart contract. The INSTAR Cryptocurrency funds the smart contract with the budget determined by the requester and pays the providers instantly with a blockchain transaction after they submit and consent to the data exchange. Below is the transaction I.D. of a payment from the data exchange smart contract to a provider in the network who completed and consented to an exchange.

Blockchain and cryptocurrency payments on the INSTAR Blockchain are borderless and can be sent to anyone across the world in 1 second. This also unlocks opportunities to access emerging markets previously unavailable due to the fractured banking system in these countries.

Future Use Cases

Currently, we are running survey sample across the INSTAR blockchain network as the first use case of the Insights Network. The mind can imagine the unlimited scalability of this technology to securely verify data and exchange privately across a network with a record of transparency as clear as sending a bitcoin payment to a friend. Some of the future use cases we’re working on involve unlocking previously unavailable data exchange / sharing opportunities such as Nuclear Power Plant Data Exchange, Enterprise Market Research involving PII using secret state data oracles (launching Q4), as well as simpler use cases such as receipt data exchanges and miniature customer experience surveys. The most beautiful aspect of blockchain technology is the global collaboration opportunities it provides. We have built this technology so that the rest of the world can use it and build out their own use cases. Make sure to get in touch with us if you want to get involved today by e-mailing us at info@insights.network. This is just the beginning.

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Born in Bucharest, Marius is the founder of Crypto Adventure. Since his first contact with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, he never stopped believing that they are one of the most important innovations of our time, which will forever change the way business is done.