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Best New Thinking Winner 2010

Internet Research


Welcome to PAAB’s Guide to Internet Research in the UK 2001.  I set this section up in 2000 when I attended the Research Show in Olympia for the first time ever, and got bamboozled by hordes of stroppy market researchers telling me their agency could do any kind of internet research I wanted.  So to cut the crap this is my take on those agencies I thought were offering something distinctive. It helps me draw up short lists. And it doesn’t mean this is all they do. But I haven’t got time for the complete sales presentation. I just need a short list for each area and I have selected the ones below because having spoken with them they had particular products I thought would be useful.


Explaining the typology

Here’s the typology:

Internet research is confusing because two concepts are constantly used interchangeably.  You can do research ABOUT the internet and you can do research USING the internet.


Net on Net

The first typology is research about the Internet conducted online i.e. using the internet itself.  There are various kinds: online panels, online pop-up questionnaires, and even online qualitative groups.  It sounds well and good but it is fraught with difficulties partly because of the stage of market development i.e. sample composition, quality and volume and because frankly everyone is working out how to do it.  There have been a number of attempts to recruit vast panels who can be asked questions via email.  And there were rumours from the USA that using this method some clients had moved all of their research online. However there are issues over sample composition (who are these people willing to answer questions on the internet at the drop of a hat?) and  an issue over scale and costs.  A number of UK research agencies started to build panels last year.  Most have since abandoned the attempt for the time being.


Net off Net

The second typology is research about the Internet conducted offline using conventional research techniques: telephone, face to face.  It is a lot easier to get the right sample, but costs are generally higher because as we shall see one of the attractions of doing research using the internet is that it carves up costs big time.  Costs in this sector are basically the same as for other kinds of research.  Most “internet” research is happening in this quadrant if only because it is the easiest for bricks and mortar research agencies to get into without any investment in infrastructure or knowledge so beware.


Internet based

This area has a lot of potential as the market develops.  This is the use of the internet to gather and distribute research data which can be about anything not just the internet.  Because the internet slashes the costs of research collection and distribution both quant and qual research agencies are rushing in to save paper, time, recruitment costs you name it.  Having an MIS system that delivers conventionally conducted research  data to your desktop anywhere falls into this category.  Its all about cost saving.


Net Applicable

You might wonder what place research not about the internet and not conducted on the internet has in such a guide.  Well there are some research techniques which I reckon ought to be transferred.  And I would rather use agencies adept in those techniques than a bright eyed bushy tailed subsidiary of a conglomerate who have got dot com or web in their name.


Piggies in the middle

I’m going to be rude here.  Some agencies I talked to gave the distinct impression that they didn’t want to be categorised.  I couldn’t readily position them and they wouldn’t position themselves.  So welcome to the piggies in the middle.  I won’t be asking them to quote. Do with them as you think fit.


How to use this guide

  1. Decide what kind of internet research you want.
  2. Click on one of the following to see a shortlist of relevant agencies


  3. Click here to find a complete list of the companies in alphabetical order.




Designed by Matthew Pattman