Webcams: The Panacea for Online Qualitative Research?

The ability to see and hear respondents clearly has for many years been seen as essential to get online qualitative on par with traditional, facilities based qual sessions. With the advent of fast Internet, in-built cameras and microphones this should be the age of the audio visual focus group. Well, partly. VisionsLive runs hundreds of online focus groups each month, providing options for both audio visual and non audio visual sessions, so we can give you a bit of insight. The surprise finding is that non audio visual groups have trumped video based focus groups by a factor of 10 in terms of client uptake! Why? Firstly, apart from the ability to see and hear respondents, the functionality of VisionsLive audio visual groups and non-audio visual groups is identical.

Secondly, every make of computer comes with different default settings for microphones and sound, so if your respondents are not technically savvy, even though our platform for conducting audio visual qual is technically sound, users can still have difficulty if headsets are not plugged in correctly or sound settings are on mute. VisionsLive provides certified headsets and webcams that work automatically without software to make life easy for respondents, but even this does not help if it's not plugged in correctly!

Thirdly, if internal pilots are being conducted by different users inside the same market research agency, those users are often using the same internet connection, meaning that bandwidth can be spread too thin to guarantee a great audio visual experience. In contrast non-audio visual groups don’t require any external hardware, can accommodate more respondents (up to 12 instead of just 6 for Audio visual groups) and the transcripts are available immediately after the session. There will always be demand for full video and audio during online qual sessions, but as long as we all use different computers, non-audio visual groups are likely to continue topping the sales charts.

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