The following was originally posted on the blog of Adriana Cisneros in 2016. Adriana graciously invited me to share our work with FIU during the 2016 presidential elections when we tried a new approach at polling Hispanics in the US.
Traditional polling to Hispanics is doomed. Well, not totally but imagine the following:
A man is sitting comfortably in his sofa. It is 7:15 pm, he just finished having dinner and is about to turn on the TV to watch his favorite show. The phone rings, he hauls himself off the couch and picks up the handset. “Hello? Hello?” — a quiet click and then a voice pops up. “Hi! This is John from Traditional Research Corp, we are reaching out to people like you about the upcoming elections, this will only take 10 minutes of your time. Press one for english or presione dos para Español…
This is how “robocalls” work. Can you spot what is not right in this scenario? I am sure that you can think of many reasons, mostly related to the annoyance of receiving late calls, the impersonal nature of a recording and so on.
Let’s focus on the shortcomings of this method. Traditional polls require thousands of calls in order to produce complete responses to very lengthy questionnaires, to the rate of 9 out of 100. People mostly hang up after they learn to identify the recording.
The number of people reachable through this method is in decline. FCC regulations require that robocalls are carried from databases or by randomly dialing exclusivity to landline phones.
There is also the matter of sample bias, i.e. collecting data in a way that some members of the population are over or under represented. Can you guess the demographics of the man in the sofa?
Hispanics in the US are a nightmare for traditional polling: mostly young (over 50% between ages 18 and 30), highly connected through their mobile (smartphone ownership is over 75%) and subsequently heavy data and app users.
Researching public opinion is a very important activity in all democratic societies. It is truly the only option we have to make our voices heard as a group. The importance multiplies when it comes to voicing the concerns of minorities. This is why Adsmovil, a Cisneros Interactive company, partnered earlier this year with Florida International University’s (FIU) Latino Public Opinion Forum to launch the New Latino Voice tracking polls. A full fledged website with research and findings will follow.
Adsmovil has been running mobile advertising campaigns to US Hispanics since 2011. We know our trade and we have now successfully applied it to political polls.
Alongside FIU Professor Eduardo Gamarra, we designed, ran and published weekly polls for over five months covering Hispanic voting preferences and important issues. (Read some of the coverage we got from NPR, Univision, Latinousa, and WSJ ). Here are the results from the two main polls that ran nationally and in Florida, both are fully aligned with results from other polls serving as validation that mobile polling is a great alternative.
Over 200,000 Hispanics have been surveyed across the US. This is an enormous sample size by any poll standard. Consider that the average sample size for a traditional robocall campaign is 1,000. We have polled 200x more at probably the same cost. Impressed? Not yet? What if I told you that one of the key reasons has to do with user experience?
Mobile media transforms public opinion research (polls) to a type of “permission marketing”. Seth Godin defined permission marketing as “the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them”. People tend to be more receptive to prone to engage while on their mobile. We use our smartphones, among other things, to fill the empty moments in our days: our leisure time.
Mobile advertising, well executed, could be a delight. Our pollers participate in a non-intrusive opinion opportunity through a rich media piece. The user has total control over the experience and over 25% choose to make their opinions heard. Why? Because they are available and willing. That is the power of connecting to the right audience through the right media.