In earlier posts, we’ve shared with you some insights on our platform, thoughts on market and opinion research and how Dalia’s insights lab develops new information products. In this post, we now turn to how Dalia leverages mobile to reach out to hundreds of millions of mobile users around the world for research.

We’re joined by David, Doron and Calum from our global access team. David is in charge of operations, Doron oversees new partnerships, and Calum has an eye on business intelligence and performance optimization.

 

Thanks for taking the time to speak about Dalia’s reach and audience access strategy.

Let’s start with you, David. Every month, Dalia interviews millions of people around the world – how do you do it?

David: Well, in the old days, if you wanted to ask someone a question for market or opinion research, you’d call them up on their landline or get them to join an online panel. Neither option is really viable any more: less and less people have landline phones – especially in emerging markets – and only a tiny fraction of a population wants to formally join a panel. Luckily, however, the rapid spread of smartphones, with now over 2 billion users worldwide, provides a revolutionary new channel to reach people in every corner of the world. To make this tremendous reach accessible for survey research, we have over the past years built an extensive network of thousands of mobile “publishers” of apps and mobile websites across all key verticals – from news to entertainment, lifestyle, gaming, tools and communication. This network enables us to invite millions of people to anonymously participate in research.

Sounds very interesting, but why do people answer survey questions?

Doron: People’s motivations to share information for research varies a lot. If you have interesting questions, for example on politics or topics with a social value, people generally like to share their views, especially if the survey is short and people can find out what others think. But a lot of the information that we collect relates to consumer behavior – for example whether you know or like a certain brand, how you use your dishwasher or whether you’re planning to buy a new car. For surveys on such topics, people often expect some kind of compensation for sharing their thoughts, which we think is fair. In our case, the compensation is handled by our publishers: for example, if a person uses a news app, they might get access to premium content, virtual currencies in a game or prepaid credits for broadband usage. The range of compensation mechanisms can be really quite broad and differs not only among publishers, but also across countries.   

Is this what makes Dalia’s reach so unique?

Doron: Yes, but there is of course much more to it. We provide access to audiences around the world to generate highly valuable information that supports strategic decision making in many areas, for example whether companies move forward with a new product line or marketing campaign or how politicians communicate their agenda. So we need to make sure that the quality of the data is impeccable, both in terms of response behavior and related to the representativity of the results. As you can imagine, doing this across more than 100 countries with tens of thousands of people at any given point in time is both challenging and hugely exciting.

Calum: The incredible volume of survey data that we process every day means that everything has to be fully automated, from assessing the trustability of people who answer questions to attributing the right questions to the right people in real-time. Many of these things would be impossible without sophisticated machine learning models. Our data science team continuously explores new methods to make sure we collect reliable data in a more efficient and faster way. One very exciting area that we’re currently exploring to that end is model-based post-stratification (MRP). The potential for large scale intelligence is huge, that’s why we need the best minds to come up with new ways to read the trends and react to them effectively.

Speaking about exciting research projects, do you have any favorites?

Doron: There are lots. One of the most exciting projects involved gathering data on what share of the population consumes endangered species in several Asian countries. The research was for an environmental NGO that wanted to better understand  the attitudes towards this topic, and the frequency at which endangered animals are consumed. There are also projects that are extremely difficult and thus pose a very unique challenge. For example, in 2017 we started measuring and tracking the distribution and prices of illegal products (I can’t say which ones) across different countries. By their very nature, such data barely exists, so generating it through tens of thousands of micro surveys is super exciting.

David: I agree with Doron, there are lots of awesome projects in process. My personal favorite was a survey we ran in Mexico to help better understand the needs of people after the disastrous earthquake there last year. I am from Mexico and it makes me very proud to be able to help leverage our engine to generate information that can make a positive impact in a time of need.

Calum: There are many really interesting projects, but to me personally, the most exciting ones are those that fail – and not because I’m a pessimist. It think failures enable us to become stronger. For example, we recently experimented with messenger-based surveys and some neural network analysis to predict the outcome of the recent vote of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) (all members of the party were asked to vote on whether the party should form a coalition with the Christian democrats). Since SPD party membership is less than 0.5% of the German population, traditional polling methods don’t work well. We were also wrong as our system predicted a 70% likelihood for the vote to fail, but in the end, an overwhelming 66% voted for the motion. We’re currently looking at what we could have done better – if you want to find out, sign up to our newsletter 🙂   

What does the future hold for your team?

David: We’re interviewing millions of people every month and have by now collected almost 4 billion answers from across 112 countries. And yet, it still feels like we’re only getting started! We’re building the world’s most powerful engine to generate insights on what groups of people think and feel so that decision makers at all levels can make better judgements.

Doron: As featured in Gründeszene, Dalia is one of the fastest growing companies in Germany and we’re set to double the team size this year.  We are looking for someone to lead our product development in the audience access space. I truly think that this is an amazing opportunity for anyone who loves to build and scale digital products. Did I mention that we also built a boat? 🙂

Calum: Our recent growth phase has been great so far, and it’s set to continue. We will be moving into a brand new office right in the centre of Kreuzberg, Berlin and have lots of opportunities to build on new ideas and innovate with a range of enthusiastic and talented individuals. I am looking forward to the next chapter of Dalia, engaging more with the world around us and creating large-scale sustainable, impactful change from our insights.

Are you a user advocate, thrilled by the opportunity to build and scale digital products with multi-national reach?  Are you seeking a leadership role in a high-growth tech organisation? If yes, you might be a good fit for our Head of Product, User Engagement Role, working on the Global Access team. We’d love to chat with you about the opportunity over coffee sometime, so don’t hesitate to apply! Check out this position here!