We had over 80 million answers to our polls last month.
By spring, we’ll be pacing at 1 billion/year. I don’t know much but I can guarantee you no company in the history of mankind has catalogued a billion answers to surveys in a year – probably in ten years.
YouGov, one of the more reputable traditional research companies, reportedly has about 1 million survey panelists in the U.S. We have twice that many… Hispanics. We have 3 million college kids. Heck, we even have more Verizon Wireless customers – 1.1 million.
We’ve officially disrupted research.
When Google announced a couple weeks ago that they were killing the third-party “cookie,” ad tech companies and websites all over the world went on suicide watch – it was a death knell, compounded by oncoming data privacy regulations that will make their lives even harder.
We, on the other hand, had a party on Thursday to celebrate.
Not because those shady data peddlers and bottom-feeding websites are screwed (they are). But because humanity will benefit. Oh, and our business got about 100X more valuable.
Third-party browser cookies were always a scourge. Everyone – including us – uses them because they have to. Because they’re the currency.
Beyond being creepy vessels of garbage, third-party cookies (and the sketchy data aggregators they enabled) spawned a generation of tiny publishers that could operate out of someone’s mom’s basement. Anyone with a WordPress site could make enough money by gaming the programmatic ad system while sucking revenue out of the respectable publishers who had professional newsrooms and ad sales teams to support.
Yes, Facebook and Google decimated the publishing industry. But these cookie-fueled, long-tail publishers made a huge dent, while plunging the standards of news and journalism.
We’re going to see a renaissance of premium content publishers. They may not return to their glory days – the Facebook and Google damage is irreparable. But they can thrive again.
Because, without cookies and privacy-defiant data sustaining the bad actors, quality publishers can compete for advertisers again on the virtues and values of their brand – and on the “1st-party” knowledge they have of their unique audience.
And guess where all of our polls – our privacy-compliant, not-3rd-party-cookie-dependent polls that get a billion (and growing) scientifically-valid answers – live. They live inside those quality news and content sites. Hundreds of them. We’re creating real, reliable, ethically-sourced data – at a historically unprecedented scale – to support their business. And journalism.
Ten years after we first envisioned it, it finally matters.
Here’s what we’re seeing:
Consumer confidence took a downward turn over the past couple weeks, but it will be interesting to see how everyone reacts with impeachment in the rearview mirror. President Trump’s Senate trial, the coronavirus, and swinging oil prices put Americans on edge after a long stretch of positive economic optimism. My guess is we’re going to see a lot more macro-sentiment volatility as the campaign hits full speed and people hang on to every news headline they read. Hold on tight.
Speaking of the coronavirus, it’s starting to spook older Americans and leisure travelers. A study we ran last week found that 76% of Americans are concerned – including 32% who are very concerned – about the potential of the coronavirus becoming an epidemic here. Concerns are highest among older Americans who, presumably, could be at greater risk. Fifteen percent of Americans have either canceled travel or chosen not to plan any travel out of coronavirus fears, particularly Asian-Americans who may have been planning to visit family. Conversely, business travelers were much LESS likely to be concerned about the virus. Honestly, what choice do we have? (On that note, I’ll be in NY next week if you’d like to meet up).
My prediction about Iowa last week turned out to be a debacle and now everyone thinks we should get rid of the Caucuses altogether. I violated my cardinal rule against political prognostication last week and it blew up in my face. You may recall I boldly said, “Somebody will win Iowa.” Seemed like a safe bet. Welp. Apparently not in today’s dumpster fire of a political landscape. For that reason and many others, count me among the clear majority of Americans (over 4:1) who think the Iowa Caucuses are past their born-on date. Both political parties even agree and that’s saying something.
Ironically, men were more offended by the Super Bowl halftime show. I’ll admit, I was pretty annoyed with all the outrage over a 10-minute musical performance, given that it was sandwiched between three hours of people inflicting crippling brain damage on each other, but whatever. People need to be mad about something I guess. For what it’s worth, a clear majority of people liked J. Lo and Shakira’s show, even 50% of political conservatives. And despite the popular take that it was softcore porn for men, it was in fact women who were more likely to approve of the whole thing.
Trust in the news (or lack thereof) is just getting more and more fractured. There’s a ton of stuff to unpack in this study but I found a few things particularly noteworthy from the chart below. A new high watermark of 64% of conservatives say that they don’t trust ANY media. Like, none of it. That’s crazy. The other thing that jumps out is that nobody trusts digitally-native news content. Yet, they still spread it like wildfire across social media.
Wendy’s is getting back into the breakfast game and the timing is fascinating. We’ve been tracking consumer interest in Wendy’s March 2 breakfast relaunch since September and the topline numbers have remained fairly steady. Something to watch, though, is that interest among Gen Z has fallen considerably. My theory? That younger consumers are still on their post-New-Year’s health kick and the idea of fast food breakfast doesn’t gel with that. Maybe they’ll give up by March. Or maybe a huge QSR launch this close to Resolution Season has its perils. Stay tuned.
And here are the most popular questions we asked this week:
- Do you usually stick to the recipe?
- Do you ask guests / visitors to your home to remove their shoes?
- Favorite Adam Sandler movie?
- Do you typically add table salt to your food?
- What do you usually sneeze into when in public?
Answer Key: Never, Never, Happy Gilmore, Never, The Crook of My Arm
Hoping you’re well.
In case you’re wondering, this is an informal email I write to CivicScience clients, friends, and other VIPs every Saturday morning. If you’re getting this, you’re either one of those people or were referred to me by one of them. I always love your comments and feedback.