Researching Multimedia Content Using Online Surveys

Multimedia has become a huge force in business culture, industry and education and therefore can play a critical part in online market research. Practically any type of information we receive can be categorized as multimedia, from television, to magazines, to web pages, to movies, multimedia is a tremendous force in both informing and entertaining a global audience.

Use Online Research to Gather Feedback

Online research has an advantage over other methodologies in that it allows marketers to gather feedback on visual content, both static pictures and streaming video, typically at lower costs than alternative methodologies such as in-person interviews or focus groups. In addition, the growth of high speed Internet access means more people can view visual content in a survey without the frustration of slow downloading times that could lead to higher incomplete rates. Online surveys also allow for the volume of response needed to make statistical projections to a target audience, a benefit that is generally too costly to do with other methodologies.

Online surveys can be used to evaluate visual content for any of the following business situation:

  • Advertising testing

  • Package design

  • Logo recognition

  • Programming content evaluation

  • Measurement of brand variants

  • Product placement/retail display

  • Concept testing

Consider Security

When you’re measuring response to creative or copyrighted content, security and intellectual property is often an issue. While there are many security features that can be used to safeguard highly sensitive company material. There is nothing that can prevent respondents from taking a picture or video of what they see on screen and distributing it more broadly. That said, security breaches don’t happen often and are typically associated with companies or products that get a lot of buzz. Security is something to keep in mind particularly with new concept or advertising testing and balanced against the cost savings from an online methodology versus the impact of a potential security breach.

For static images, pictures can be encrypted so respondents cannot use a snag function or program to capture the picture. To add another layer of security, the picture can be broken into pieces, much like a puzzle, and each piece encoded. Video can be secured by allowing respondents to view only once and then have the video disabled. Another alternative is to have respondents click on a link within the survey that serves up the video only once per respondent identification code.

Using Video in Your Online Survey

When it comes to image and video formats there are a variety of different methods to display images and videos in an online survey. File formats most commonly used are ones that have the lightest footprint (small memory size) such as .avi , .mov, .mp4,. .mpg, .swf and .wmv. Specific tools are able to handle specific file formats. For example, Windows Media Player (.wmv) does not play an Apple file (.mov) Image and video formats can be resource-intense and require the assistance of an IT professional.

Web-based studies offer researchers a wide variety of tools to improve research capabilities. These improvements lead to more effective implementations of the research.


Advertising and concept testing, and tracking are a few ways in which technology enables more effective online research. In advertising testing respondents can be shown storyboards, rough cut ads, or fully finished ads depending on the business issue. If an advertising or PR group within an organization has completed the boards and stored them on a digital format, then the research tool should be able to easily implement them.

To determine which advertising concept is the best alternative to take the full production (concept testing), respondents can be shown a series of still shots, usually six to ten images, with commentary on the ad provider either as captions beneath the pictures or as an audio overlay. Respondents are asked basic questions to rate the appeal of the ad, their interest in the product or service as a result of the ad, and likelihood to purchase. Respondents can also be asked to rank order the concepts.

Once an ad has aired on television, it can be tracked to assess how it is performing in market. Respondents are shown either a series of stills that represent the ad or the ad itself and asked whether they recall seeing the ad and its impact on likelihood to purchase. Most companies use a series of stills pulled from the finished ad with the brand name of the product or service masked to assess whether respondents link the advertising with the brand.

Package Design

Online surveys can be used to evaluate package design as well. Respondents can be shown variations of package designs and asked to rank order their preferences. Images or videos must be stored in a digital format. The digital format can be inserted into the research tool.

Programming and Presentations

Respondents can also evaluate short programming content through online research, i.e. news clips or show segments. The respondents are first shown a video of the content and then asked a series of questions about various elements of the program.

The advantage that multimedia gives to online research is indescribable, as is the advantage it has given to our American culture, industry and education.


  1. Very useful information. You are right! The power of multimedia in getting the attention of people all over the world is astounding. It is easy to understand and very accessible.


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