According to the Telegraph, Facebook announced at Davos that it will be rolling out a new service to provide real-time research for companies looking to test “the appeal of new products. Companies will be able to pose questions to specially selected members” based on their profile information. The new service is a substitute for expensive and time-consuming focus groups that many product oriented companies invest in.
The real-time polls that were demoed at the World Economic Forum this week were only a sample of what types of results companies can get. Imagine being able to get instant feedback from thousands of individuals within your target demographic. If Facebook is truly focusing on market research, they could be on to something big. I’ve written about this previously when Facebook unleashed their now extinct polls product.
Back in 2007, when Facebook launched polls, I was a bit critical because the results were not statistically significant. I’d imagine that this new service will provide statistically significant results. The most recent statistics I could find in a quick search, revealed that there was $7.3 billion spent on market research in the United States in 2004.
Those numbers have probably surpassed $9 billion now based on the growth trends, but regardless of the exact numbers, it is significant. If Facebook could grab a portion of that business, the company could generate substantial revenue through research alone. The new market research product may also be related to the “sentiment engine” that I wrote about earlier this weekend.
There were few other details provided by the Telegraph article but I have a request in to Facebook for more information on the product and I’ll be sure to update this article once I hear back.
I spoke with Facebook’s communications department and was informed that the Telgraph article was factually incorrect. Randy Zuckerberg’s comment was misinterpreted apparently. There are two systems right now: the reuse of Facebook’s previous polling system which was displayed at the World Economic Forum and the new polling engagement ads. Essentially everything about this article was incorrect. Looks like the Telegraph messed up this time around.