Last Revised: June 21, 2021
Full Circle has provided online sample for market research since 2013, though our company’s founders have been involved in online research for decades. Since the 90s, they’ve conducted tens of thousands of online surveys, and their industry knowledge dates back to the 80s. One hundred percent of Full Circle’s work is for market research. Of note, thanks to our commitment to data quality, Full Circle was the first and only US-based online consumer sample provider to have earned ISO 26362 certification. That certification has since been replaced by ISO 20252:2019, which the company earned in April 2021.
The team responsible for developing and monitoring our proprietary sampling algorithm is led by our co-CEO Nathan Lynch, who already had more than 20 years’ experience in online sample platform development when he created Full Circle’s automated attention algorithm, HoNoR (Holistic Next-Level Research™). HoNoR uses qualitative and quantitative measures to analyze real-time responses and generate a FC+ Quality Score. By doing so, HoNoR ensures that our sample is correctly stratified, verifies that demographic and profile information is current and monitors that each respondent is paying attention and is ready to participate in a market research study. Every member of our frontline team boasts 15+ years’ experience in online sampling operations, undergoes extensive training when they join Full Circle and is routinely reviewed thereafter. Our ISO 20252:2019 certification requires that we maintain a formal training manual that covers sampling techniques, data security, quality control and more.
Full Circle offers access to high-quality permissioned individuals who have agreed to participate in online market research. Our staff also performs programming and hosting, which we run through Decipher, an industry-leading survey data collection platform. Additionally, we’ve developed proprietary research quality tools, including HoNoR, which provide several services, such as participant attention measurement. Our dedicated team boasts an average of 15 years’ online research experience and is poised to help clients develop questionnaires that permit them to know their audiences more fully. Full Circle’s secure reporting portal and dashboard allows clients to easily organize data, track field progress and view results. And every project is subject to review by at least two senior staff members, resulting in superior quality control regardless of project launch timing, including evenings and weekends.
Sample Sources & Recruitment
Our consumer-facing panel, Survey Roundtable, is built through traditional online sample sources, including exclusive partnerships with content-driven publishers, associations with social networking sites and real-time intercept sampling, all of which are vetted, top-tier organizations that can support our seamless, consistent project and sample strategy. This is critical, as validating member identities via proprietary security initiatives is a key aspect of our company’s infrastructure and reputation. Important note: When collecting our data, we adhere to SPAM and COPPA rules and regulations, as well as any industry standards created by MRA, CASRO and ESOMAR. Since we cannot guarantee the same for client-supplied sample of unknown confirmed origins, we do not participate in projects that require the use of client-supplied sample.
6. What recruitment channels are you using for each of the sources you have described? Is the recruitment process ‘open to all’ or by invitation only? Are you using probabilistic methods? Are you using affiliate networks and referral programs and in what proportions? How does your use of these channels vary by geography?
Survey Roundtable is built through traditional online sample sources, including exclusive partnerships with content-driven website publishers and social networking platforms (70%) and affiliate networks (30%). Recruitment is “open to all” who pass HoNoR, our stringent quality and validation service. We do not use probabilistic methods or referral programs. In regards to geography, our channel use is the same across all markets except where social media is limited.
Full Circle uses its proprietary survey experience, HoNoR, to deliver the lowest sample fraud rate in the industry. HoNoR employs a marriage of internal and third-party platforms to ensure that participants are real, unique and who they say they are. We start with Relevant ID, a third-party validity resource that provides real-time digital fingerprinting. This ensures de-duplication amongst the incoming sample sourcing. Next, our internal algorithm automatically identifies red flags regarding user information, history and participation, fraudulent proxy servers and more. Then we tap into the powerful identity validation and fraud protection of Verity, as well as CleanID, which uncovers bots, survey farms and survey respondent markers (oscillating IP addresses, browser signature spoofing, etc.).
Our proprietary source, Survey Roundtable, is accessed by website (active) and by email (passive). On average, 22% of our members access our surveys by visiting the Take A Survey page on our website; 78% of our members access our surveys via a link in an email invite.
We offer managed service to deliver our sample. This means that once our clients define their desired job specifications, our skilled and attentive team uses our unique consultative approach to manage every step of their research project: sample design, launch and fieldwork management.
10. If offering intercepts, or providing access to more than one source, what level of transparency do you offer over the composition of your sample (sample sources, sample providers included in the blend). Do you let buyers control which sources of sample to include in their projects, and if so how? Do you have any integration mechanisms with third-party sources offered?
Our ISO 20252:2019 certification requires us to be completely transparent about the composition of our sample. Should that involve supplemental suppliers, we partner only with those that contractually agree to adhere to our ISO-approved quality standards. We do not let buyers control their sources of sample, but we do work collaboratively with them to identify the most effective mix. In regards to integration mechanisms, all third-party sources filter through HoNoR, which automatically employs proprietary and industry-leading third-party platforms to clean and de-dupe the data as if it were our own.
11. Of the sample sources you have available, how would you describe the suitability of each for different research applications? For example, Is there sample suitable for product testing or other recruit/recall situations where the buyer may need to go back again to the same sample? Is the sample suitable for shorter or longer questionnaires? For mobile-only or desktop-only questionnaires? Is it suitable to recruit for communities? For online focus groups?
All of our sample sources are selected with suitability in mind. We have the capability to provide PII for projects that require personal information, such as IHUTs or recontacts, and we are known for our community builds. Our panelists are most accustomed to questionnaires that range from a few minutes to 30, which supports our data quality efforts (surveys longer than 30 minutes are more susceptible to fraud). Our surveys work equally well on desktop and mobile, though we are smart about it: If a survey format is not suited for mobile, we recommend against it. (For example: grids do not work well on mobile devices.) We also have the capability to understand which platform a participant is using, and block fraud as needed. Full Circle does not run online focus groups.
Sampling & Project Management
Survey Roundtable invitations are transparent and provide as-needed information, including the generic nature of the survey topic (by eliminating screener clues, we remove bias and baiting). We are also upfront about our expectations regarding specifics such as survey length, how long the survey will be open and incentive offers. An opportunity to unsubscribe from our panel is always included, as well as our community feedback email address. And, as expected, our adherence to a strict code of ethics applies to every project we recruit.
To account for varying response rates per census segment and achieve sample that “looks like” the target population, we apply a disproportionate census stratification strategy to our sample distribution. For example: Males 18-24 possess response rates far lower than that of females 55 years and over. To ensure representative “starts” to the survey, we include a larger number of male 18-24 invitations in the sample batch; we avoid oversampling by doing the opposite for females 55+. Additionally, we implement a real-time quota strategy that sets valid survey starts, ensuring we achieve a census click-to-start balance. This quota strategy adjusts according to our clients’ desired percentages and target audiences. Panel members receive SRT Points whether or not they quality for a survey (amount varies) and all points are automatically added to their SRT rewards accounts at termination or survey completion.
13. What profiling information do you hold on at least 80% of your panel members plus any intercepts known to you through prior contact? How does this differ by the sources you offer? How often is each of those data points updated? Can you supply these data points as appends to the data set? Do you collect this profiling information directly or is it supplied by a third party?
Regardless of sample source, our profiling begins at the registration path, where we collect 25 demographic and psychographic data points (such as age, gender, region, household income and travel preferences). Once we’ve captured these basic points, we then funnel our panelists into 12 deeper profiling efforts, exposing a greater understanding of their preferences. This allows us to target, utilize and partner with them in a different way. These profilers include both B2B (such as small business owners and IT professionals), as well as consumer panels (including electronics, ailments, travel and tourism, food and beverage, and more). Of note, we also store the data collected from specialty surveys’ pre-screeners and profiling surveys. To keep our data current, we automatically update panelist info as well as consistently encourage community members to expand their own profiles to better tailor their survey experiences. And, yes, we can easily append any non-PII-related panelist profile point to a client survey URL or final dataset.
We need: incidence, project specifications, survey length, fielding timeline and complete levels/quotas. When our clients do not define category incidence or length, we offer a free overnight incidence check to clarify how the study will run. Should the client decline the incidence check, we deliver a spread of costs-per-interview that ranges from floor to ceiling.
If we are unable to complete a project in-field, we present our clients with three paths forward. Plan A is speaking with our exclusive website publishers to ramp up traffic. Plan B funnels outside sourcing through our proven data cleansing and validating service, HoNoR, to ensure sample integrity matches our own. In this circumstance, we do inform our client of our third-party sources, each of which must contractually agree to adhere to the quality standards set by our ISO 20252:2019 certification. And Plan C, which we rarely use, is providing our clients with a vetted list of colleagues or competitors that may be able to finish the job.
We do not employ a survey router. All respondents have a one-to-one relationship with survey starts, as well as the survey invite link.
N/A (See Q16.)
We base our invitation model on the strict code of ethics defined by our ISO 20252:2019 certification. Every survey invite is transparent and provides pertinent information, including the generic nature of the survey topic (we remove bias or baiting by eliminating screener clues). We are also upfront about our expectations regarding specifics such as survey length, the odds of completing the survey, how long the survey will be open and incentive offers. Members must give us permission before taking any survey. An opportunity to unsubscribe from our panel is always included, as well as our community feedback email address. And we employ live match-back as a quality check. This process is the same regardless of sample source.
Every Survey Roundtable participant chooses surveys at their will via their account’s Take A Survey page, which houses open surveys that match the information they provided in their SRT Profile. The surveys are identified by open/close dates, a generic title (i.e., Consumer Survey, Product Survey, Lifestyle Survey), a generic description (i.e., Share what you like and don’t like; Take this survey any day of the week until spots fill up) and the number of SRT points they earn at completion.
We can increase or decrease incentives during the course of a survey. We can also flag participant level in the data set, as well as report about it—this is a requirement of our ISO 20252:2019 certification.
Upon survey completion, respondents are asked to rate their experience satisfaction via a scale of 1-5 stars and are also offered the opportunity to provide more detailed feedback. We do not solicit feedback from respondents who were terminated.
After a project is finished, we always recommend a follow-up meeting to understand how we did versus initial expectations. We are happy to provide a debrief report should a client ask, though the request is rare.
Data Quality & Validation
Regardless of sample source, our members receive no more than eight invites a month. We purposefully limit the number of surveys we offer, to elicit higher response rates (a proven approach measured and tracked over time). We also place moratoriums on participation in similar survey types or categories. Doing so results in a more active and engaged community from which to better achieve quality data.
We permit Survey Roundtable members to complete up to four surveys a month, no matter the sample source, survey type or category. We routinely exclude panelists based on survey experience by client or subject, as well as the amount of time between survey completions. We can batch-deploy invitations across any demographic/psychographic profiling criteria, including time zones, geography and more. We can also differentiate between those who received invitations and those who completed surveys—all of which is key to reducing panelist fatigue and increasing participation rates.
The mean amount of time a panelist may have already been taking surveys before they enter a new one is 702 days (or 1.92 years).
Maintaining individual level respondent data is integral to ensuring fresh, clean and accurate insights. New members receive an ID number at registration, which they keep for their entire panel tenure. We protect their survey participation, history, date of entry, source and many more data points throughout our partnership by using industry-leading security and survey software. And, yes, we are able to provide a project analysis of individual level data, provided that such data meets PII guidelines. We can also append data points to our participation records.
Full Circle’s HoNoR puts an immediate stop to any fraudulent respondent who tries to tap into our panel. First, we kick in Relevant ID, a third-party validity resource that provides real-time digital fingerprinting. This ensures de-duplication amongst the incoming sample sourcing. Next, our proprietary internal algorithm automatically identifies red flags regarding user information, history and participation, fraudulent proxy servers and more. Then we tap into industry-leading, third-party platforms, such as Verity—for powerful identity validation and fraud protection—and CleanID, which uncovers bots, survey farms and survey respondent markers (such as oscillating IP addresses, browser signature spoofing, etc.).
26. How do you manage source consistency and blend at the project level? With regard to trackers, how do you ensure that the nature and composition of sample sources remain the same over time? Do you have reports on blends and sources that can be provided to buyers? Can source be appended to the participant data records?
We use HoNoR to manage source consistency and blend at the project level, ensuring completes fall naturally amongst a census-balanced-by-start stratification plan proven to increase survey accuracy. For trackers, our sourcing is accounted for the duration, not just the first few months, and is funneled through strict, client-defined exclusion rules and quality blacklisting to protect the purity of the sample over the life of the tracker. What’s more, HoNoR’s automated attention algorithm creates a real-time FC+ Quality Score for every respondent, first by verifying profile information and then using quantitative and qualitative data checks to ensure members are paying attention, for a more consistent product. We can generate balance reports for external sources, and, yes, sources can be appended to participant data records.
27. Please describe your participant/member quality tracking, along with any health metrics you maintain on members/participants, and how those metrics are used to invite, track, quarantine, and block people from entering the platform, router, or a survey. What processes do you have in place to compare profiled and known data to in-survey responses?
Our proprietary attention algorithm service, HoNoR, automatically creates an FC+ Quality Score in real time for every member. This score is established via qualitative checks (i.e., analysis of open-end responses) and quantitative checks (i.e., answer selection formats). Full Circle’s panelists must pass every one of our checks to proceed with any survey. With less gray area, we consistently and automatically deliver a lower reconciliation rate, which increases the likelihood of achieving quality responses. We do not keep or use historical scores, we indirectly blacklist panelists who provide poor responses (for example, open-ends with inappropriate language) and we also re-ask demographic information to ensure consistency and accuracy.
28. For work where you program, host, and deliver the survey data, what processes do you have in place to reduce or eliminate undesired in-survey behaviours, such as (a) random responding, (b) Illogical or inconsistent responding, (c) overuse of item non- response (e.g.,“Don’t Know”) (d) inaccurate or inconsistent responding, (e) incomplete responding, or (f) too rapid survey completion?
HoNoR, our proprietary survey experience, excels at eliminating undesired in-survey behaviors, employing an automated attention algorithm and quantitative and qualitative data checks to ensure members are paying attention, taking their time, providing honest answers and delivering quality open-ends. This is true even for surveys not disseminated in English (HoNoR currently translates in 26 countries). Additionally, we add fraud-term and fraud-hold quality strategies to client questionnaires. A fraud-term is a trap answer at the top of a survey that automatically terminates any panelist who fails it. Fraud-holds are trap answers at the end of a surveys, where panelists are least expecting them. (Note that panelists are allowed to complete the surveys as normal—we remove them after the fact.) As a final measure to elicit 100% client confidence in our sample, our data processing team also reviews collected data and open ends to make any necessary removals.
Policies & Compliance
30. How do you comply with key data protection laws and regulations that apply in the various jurisdictions in which you operate? How do you address requirements regarding consent or other legal bases for the processing personal data? How do you address requirements for data breach response, cross-border transfer, and data retention? Have you appointed a data protection officer?
Full Circle has developed an industry-leading, comprehensive data protection compliance program to address the requirements of applicable data protection laws and regulations. We use consent as the legal basis for the processing of personal data and our external Compliancy Officer provides guidance on data protection and other compliance issues.
Survey Roundtable participants provide, manage and revise content for the processing of the personal data through their My Account page on our website. If they need support, they can reach us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or filling out the form on our site’s contact page. Response time is two to three business days. This level of customer care is available regardless of sample source.
To track and comply with other applicable laws and regulations, we continually monitor industry association forums and guidance, as well as data protection-focused resources. We also have an external Compliancy Officer who assists with the adoption of the latest changes.
A minimum age of 13 is required to register for our panel. Full Circle’s collection and processing of teens’ personal data follows the same ISO-approved processes as that for adults. We also adhere vigilantly to COPPA laws, as well as all industry best standards, including ESOMAR, EU Safe Harbor and Insights (formally CASRO and the MRA).
Full Circle has integrated measures into its systems and processes to address the requirements of “data protection by design”. This includes participant-facing applications, data processing and data governance activities.
Our information security compliance program includes accepted administrative physical and technical controls aligned to frameworks such as ISO 27001. Full Circle’s hosting and SaaS providers are also certified to ISO 27001. What’s more, Full Circle is one of a very limited number of providers that has certified to ISO 20252:2019. (See Q36). To ensure our processes remain compliant, our ISO Quality Manager is responsible for a continual internal audit.
Full Circle is one of a very limited number of providers that is certified to ISO 20252:2019. Our ISO Quality Manager is responsible for program management, internal auditing and continuous improvement. We are also in full compliance of the stipulations set forth by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).