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Ensuring passive metering becomes a risk-free, powerful research tool for major brands

The power of passive metering, monitoring the mobile behaviour of opted-in consumers, is tremendous for marketers of all kinds. The ability to map when/where a person hears an ad, see exactly what they do on their phone before, during and after ad exposure, and then ask questions or see pictures of the products they buy, and understand the payment methods they used to buy it enables unprecedented consumer journey analysis and advertising effectiveness measurement.

However, brands are gun-shy about passive metering projects because they feel these projects are too risky, and with good reason. They can be difficult, expensive and unpredictable and can cause brand damage if conducted or communicated inappropriately. But there is a “right way” to do passive metering.

Getting the panel right

The People Data Company operates panels of emerging market consumers who consciously consent to monitoring of granular detail of their lives via their phone and who also answer questions and upload pictures or scans of the products they purchase and use throughout the day.

Recruiting, qualifying, and retaining these panels to meet client objectives for representativeness and compliance is very challenging, but through careful, verified registration, trust-building through responsive support and daily rewards and social proof of the programme legitimacy, both compliance and continued loyalty can be achieved.

Building the user experience

Access to a successful passive metering programme should be via a mobile-native application, built specifically for ease of use in the everyday lives of the target audience.

The user experience should be fool-proof across languages, cultures, and varying levels of technical competence and diligence. Potential panelists must be able to understand the criteria, expectations, rewards and process for participation quickly and easily.

Managing the technology

Differences across phone brands and OS, mobile surveys, audio content recognition, incentive payment distributions, reporting and user support: all of these separate technologies must be managed effectively, which requires a team effort (and is a full time job).

Tailoring the reporting

The raw passive metering stream of data is quite literally a stream of text characters. This data must first be grouped, categorized and deciphered. Both core passive data common to all clients and reports of client-specific content (surveys, product pics, etc.) must be confirmed before launch, and inevitably there will be frequent tweaks and change requests during the program.

The goal of reporting is to enable clients to understand recruitment and compliance status, survey compliance, survey results, and panel demographics quickly, easily and without exposure to any data they should not see.

Clients of The People Data Company can visualize, filter and cross-tab the data on a dashboard and download the raw data in CSV or Excel formats.

Supporting the project

Effective project management is key to a successful passive metering project. From teaching support staff how to troubleshoot issues, through programming surveys to understanding changes in client requirements, a team of people is required who understand the intricacies and interdependencies of the project from the lowest level to the highest. That team must be multi-disciplinary, multilingual, and available virtually 24X7.

Each panel developed by The People Data Company is managed as a separate business with dedicated budgets, plans and staff for recruitment, support, survey programming and quality control and reporting.

Managing brand risk

Brands that engage in passive metering projects directly risk the wrath of both the authorities and the very consumers they are eager to observe and understand.

Every jurisdiction has privacy, cyber-security, and data management and usage laws. Violations can trigger hugely expensive monetary and reputational penalties for organizations that collect and process the data, but not for those that consume it.

From an app not working, to compensation not being paid, to a blogger who sees sinister intent in a project, the promise of passive metering can turn into a PR nightmare if a study is too closely associated with one specific brand.

Avoiding this depends on the commitment to panel quality, transparent user experience, market-leading technology, effective reporting and advanced project management described above.

A bright future

With these pillars in place, The People Data Company believes that the risks of passive metering can be transformed into a powerful, universally valuable tool, where clients can subscribe to core passive data streams inexpensively and add custom extras on top. Gaining access to hugely valuable, granular insights on difficult to reach consumers in a truly cost-effective way.

Please contact us at to arrange a demonstration.

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