Detail from "the second line," a painting by Bob Graham. For more about the artist, click here.

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Uncovering the Groundtruth: Using crowdsourcing to reach the masses

Michael W Link, Nielsen 
Justin T Bailey, NPD Group 
*Jeff Scagnelli, Nielsen 

Keywords: technology, crowdsourcing, data quality

Crowdsourcing, or recruitment of a large, relatively diverse group of potential respondents through an open call (Howe, 2006) has recently surfaced as method for potentially reaching otherwise hard-to-reach populations to complete survey data or provide meaningful information on a variety of tasks. By leveraging mobile technologies, researchers have better opportunities to reach these populations than ever before. Questions remain, however, about how the effectiveness and reliability of crowdsourcing data. For example, can researchers rely on the crowd to provide accurate data, and to do it at a equal or lower cost than more traditional survey methods? In this paper, we discuss recent research that utilizes social media (i.e., Facebook), mobile phones, and crowdsourcing to collect information about local consumer behaviors in India. While our information was specific to our business needs, we demonstrate how crowdsourcing can be used to collect data by creating a preliminary validation to ensure quality information and obtaining insights and sentiments of hard-to-rach populations. We focus on the practical uses of crowdsourcing as a survey research tool that, while effective, might not be included in the standard research "toolkit". We show that crowdsourcing, in the right circumstances, can be a useful alternative for gaining response from underrepresented populations.

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