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How Blockchain is Boosting Transparency and Engagement in Consumer Research

Paul Neto

blockchain

Follow these steps to ensure your surveys meet a high standard and see bolstered user engagement

The marketing research industry is in a unique position to gain an intimate understanding of consumers, their behaviors and opinions. Developing the trust of survey participants through transparency and accountability is key to the future success of the industry—and the use of blockchain and crypto-technologies can help gain that trust.

Blockchain helps solve persistent data privacy issues and removes security concerns of centralized databases, where survey participants have traditionally been found. It also predicates that transparency is one of its core values. Unsurprisingly, this approach has another beneficial side effect: better user experiences.

My company, Measure Protocol, ran a pilot project that put blockchain technology to practical use for partners, including research agencies, brands and panels. The program showed surprisingly high and fast user engagement: 92% of those who started a data job completed it. Another indicator of a good experience is a quick response rate, and we found 44% of completed jobs garnered a response within 15 minutes of notification during our pilot.

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Why were these numbers so high? We focused heavily on user experience. The transparency that surrounds blockchain means you can’t get away with a bad experience because the users have more visibility into the process. For every survey data job, participants had an opportunity to rank the system at various points in the program.

When adopting blockchain and its underlying philosophy, transparency and privacy-related directives need to be clearly established. Interrogating the blockchain isn’t an easy undertaking for the average person, but there are built-in ways to expose the information and make it clearly available at the application level.

Here are some of the basics to this approach.

Transactional Activity Data

Supply-chain and network activity is often a black hole with little-to-no transparency. By adopting a blockchain-transparency philosophy, general network activity is made visible to the users of the system. This includes the number of data requests, offers, acceptances, terminations, surveys taken, payments and ratings. This level of clarity provides the opportunity for analysis to understand the drivers of success and data quality. The data can also be used to encourage positive behaviors across the ecosystem.

Real-Time Feedback

Give users an instant opportunity to rate the quality of each survey or data job. Their ratings are written to the blockchain, become part of the reputation of the survey provider and are shared for other users to see. If ratings are low, people may choose not to participate.

From a researcher’s perspective, if a survey is launched and the first wave of respondents all give it one star, that’s an immediate indicator that something is wrong with the experience. You can halt the survey and send an alert to the provider, letting them know that this survey isn’t meeting quality standards for your network. This immediate feedback can help manage research firms’ reputations and prevent further bad user experiences.

Clear Incentives

Some mystery surrounds how people are compensated for taking a survey. In my company’s app, we chose to publish this information at the beginning of a job—incentive level, estimated time to complete, etc.—which holds everyone accountable. No survey provider wants to be at the bottom tier of compensation, so this transparency starts to push us toward a fairer model.

Respondent Reputation

This may not have as much to do with user experience, but it is important to note that ratings can work both ways in this ecosystem. Respondents are also rated, the information is saved to the blockchain and is made available to research firms. Building algorithms around the characteristics of a “good respondent” exposes their behaviors, such as average response rates to surveys, completion rates and number of surveys taken. Researchers can then target quality, higher-scoring respondents if they want feedback from those with better reputations.


This type of environment starts setting a different stage for incentives and motivations for survey participation—users are fully aware of “what they’re getting into” before they begin. Transparency also puts pressure on the survey providers to run high-quality surveys. While all the data is transparently stored on the blockchain, it becomes truly powerful when you start to unpack it for improved user experience and engagement.

Paul Neto is co-founder and chief marketing officer at Measure Protocol.