Google Wave – an opportunity for online research

14Jul09

I mentioned Google Wave to a research colleague. Believing it to be a social networking tool (it is), he wasn’t sure why Google Wave could be so relevant to online research. The answer is because of what it will let researchers do with Google Wave, rather than what Google initially expect it to be used for. Here’s the thought, with a little further elaboration:

Hi,

The key with Google Wave is that it is going to be provided open-source – so you could use it to develop your own platform for a research network, instead of a social network, for your consumers.

Assume your online panel is large enough for you to select a representative audience for any brand, product or service from (these already exist commercially). Now get each member to sign-up to your adapted version of a Google Wave, downloading your client software (easy self-install from a one click download and registration). This will then control all correspondence (Waves), with the data being fed solely to your research server.

Apps and Widgets are relatively easy to implement, so Google have already showcased a simple survey function. The interesting dynamic is that you are able to ask people to vote on any material you present (words, photos, movies) and then allow them to change their opinion over time (with you setting the time frame).

As others vote differently and express reasons why they vote the way they do, the system is then able to track each individual comment and change in voting for consumers, as well as showing the final outcome. So unlike research where you currently only see opinion from an individual’s point-of-view, you get this and are also then able to track the influence of the herd on perception. This perception change could be harnessed commercially to model market perception shift to stimulus very quickly.

So with Google Wave we could start to model herd influence and behaviour on the perception of ideas, marketing material, products, services, content etc. though online research panels; as well as conduct standard research surveys or moderated online focus groups.

Interesting times.

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