Behavioral Data Barometer: Interview with Klaus Oberecker, Founder at Reppublika, MindTake Research & Talk Online Panel

We are happy to continue our Behavioral Data Barometer series with a new interview from Klaus Oberecker!

Klaus Oberecker founded MindTake Research in 2001 while still a student at the University of Vienna. What started as a two-man web agency evolved into a group of companies that cover the digital spectrum, offering expertise in panel and online market research in 21 countries, as well as design and development services for external clients such as museums, banks and media portals.

Interview with Klaus Oberecker, Founder at Reppublika, MindTake Research & Talk Online Panel

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In early 2016 MindTake decided to get a license for Wakoopa’s passive metering technology. Why do you think passive metering is important, and what were the main reasons for you to decide to implement passive metering?

MindTake Research, our market research agency, is now 15 years old, and while this makes us a bit of a veteran, we’ve always been passionate about digital innovation – curiosity and excitement about technology is in our DNA. When we learned about passive metering tools and Wakoopa, we decided to get a license on a whim, without really having a concrete plan: we were just convinced this is the way of the future, and we thought it was cool to be able to get to all this data. Basically in the beginning we just followed our hunch, and built on a plan from there.

How have you incorporated passive metering in your research designs and data collection methods? How do you combine behavioral data with other data sources?

Initially we struggled a bit with finding the best way to monetise this new data source. Of course we pitched behavioral data to existing and new customers: for MindTake as a market research agency the obvious services using this kind of data were customer journeys, search term analysis, competition monitoring, trend watch, things like that. Our experience in the panel business with Talk Online Panel helped a lot with implementing and processing the passive data automatically. In this process we also enrich the behavioral data with both our own panel profile data, as well as data provided by our clients.

How has your experience with offering passive metering to existing and new clients been so far?

Market research is an established discipline with a tried and tested set of methods, so naturally, as with any new technology, you must first convince your clients of the benefits. But since we have a solid reputation as a "digital native" market research agency, there is a lot of trust on the client side and most are willing to give our suggestions a chance. It’s of course tricky with new terms like “passive metering” - no client knew or understood it at the beginning! But it all comes down to the fact that everyone wants to know more about their customers, target groups, and what they are doing online, and passive metering data is simply the best way to find out.

What do you see as the main challenges and/or key success factors when dealing with passive metering in your specific markets?

Speaking as a panel provider, the challenges for selling behavioral data are quite big, since no ordinary client can handle “raw, behavioral data”. Without pre-processing and “cleaning” it, this kind of data is of little use to ordinary research agencies or direct clients. Speaking as a research agency, the situation was different: offering the bespoke services to market research clients has been successful because we come from digital and know how to handle data. So from the perspective of MindTake that was successful, but came with one catch: All projects were different and required a new audience that we had to recruit and convince to install the tracking software, every time. This is hard work, and soon we noticed that letting the users go after each project was more expensive than simply keeping them. At that point we decided to recruit a bigger, representative and permanent panel and just keep collecting data.
That meant much higher maintenance and recruitment costs, so a permanent monetisation strategy was needed to at least cover the base costs. We saw this as a challenge and integrated the data into Reppublika, a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) product that we had already started to develop previously.

Reppublika is a new tool for media reach and real-time campaign analysis based on passive metering. How does Reppublika apply behavioral data and what are the use cases for advertisers?

In a way Reppublika started as our approach to the challenges mentioned before, but it developed into much more than that. The module "Reppublika Ratings+" uses behavioral data based on Wakoopa, on other sources and on our deep user profiling data, and brings it all together to rank and rate all used services for a national market, be it apps or web sites. Advertisers can filter and search through it using a variety of criteria based on the usage data and a big range of demographic attributes. They can find target groups and decide where to place advertisements, and brands can also use it to monitor their competitors – everyone likes that function! If you, for example, wanted to know how the group of “20-29-year-old Austrian women who own a cat” spend their time online, you could find out. Not to keep you in suspense, in August 2017 they were mostly on Netflix.
In addition to Ratings+ we also have other modules such as "Reppublika Campaign Control", which is a control centre for monitoring and optimising online campaigns. It measures impressions and target group accuracy, and utilises automated brand-lift surveys to establish the effectiveness of your ad based on predefined Key Performance Indicators such as Recall, Recognition, Appeal and Purchase Probability. Campaigns can be tweaked and optimised in real time.
To arrive at this result we had to use our existing deep profiling data, the passive metering behavioral data from Wakoopa as well as other sources, cookie data, statistical knowledge from our market research specialists, our in-house team of developers, and the business relationships we have with advertisers, media agencies and brands all over Europe. It is a huge undertaking, but industry reception has been overwhelmingly positive.

What would be your advice to the industry to survive in the future of research?

Always keep an eye on emerging technologies and don’t be afraid to experiment and adapt them to your needs – no one ever survived in business by going back to the ‘good old days’.