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Brand TrackingApril 26, 2022

Why Unincentivized Surveys Lead to Better Brand Tracking Data

April 26, 2022
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Cory Schröder
Senior Content Marketing Manager

Gathering feedback from consumers sounds pretty simple, right? You find a group of people who fit your target audience parameters, ask them some questions, and, then, analyze the results. Easy peasy.

Well, we hate to burst your bubble, but if you want access to accurate, reliable consumer insights — ones you’ll feel confident basing your marketing decisions on — it’s a whole lot more complicated than that.

From ensuring correct sample sizes to testing incidence rates to properly treating the data, there are many important steps that cannot be left out. After all, what’s the point of having brand tracking data if it’s not as precise as possible?

Plus — when gathering consumer data using surveys, you’ll also need to consider whether you’ll go the incentivized or unincentivized survey route. While both are legitimate choices, from our experience, unincentivized surveys lead to higher quality results.

But why? This article will explain what incentivized and unincentivized surveys are — along with why we believe unincentivized surveys yield better brand tracking data in 2022.

What Is An Incentivized Survey?

When it comes to collecting consumer feedback, there are two main ways you can set up surveys: incentivized and unincentivized. Let’s start with the incentivized option.

An incentivized survey, also known as incentivized sampling, is a survey that functions with a reward-based system. When a consumer completes the survey in question, they receive some sort of reward — be it money, points, or tokens.

Incentivized surveys function via opt-in respondents, which means they must work with traditional panels and invitational APIs. Many brands that run surveys to capture consumer insights choose to go with the incentivized option for a few reasons, such as:

  • Longer surveys

  • Deeper profiling

  • A wider range of question formats

Furthermore, panel and exchange pre-profiling questions make it possible to target directly to compatible audiences with an incentivized survey — which can make the sample targeting process a bit easier.

However, incentivized surveys also deal with some serious issues, such as questionable data quality and fraud. When you consider the fact that consumers are rewarded for participating in the survey, you have to take into account that their answers might not be 100% honest.

Incentivized surveys can attract the wrong kind of respondents, aka those just looking for a reward. According to SurveyMonkey, incentives can actually prove counterproductive:

“Psychology researchers have shown that incentives, and cash especially, can demotivate people instead of incentivizing them to do something. Getting responses from people who are really not that interested could hurt the quality of your data.”

Ultimately, incentivized or reward-based surveys could introduce bias into your results — which is something most brand tracking tools work hard to avoid. For this reason and more, many companies choose to go with unincentivized surveys.

What Is An Unincentivized Survey?

An unincentivized survey gathers consumer data in a way that respondents are not rewarded for their participation — they take the survey voluntarily to share their opinion.

Most unincentivized surveys use open ad networks to find participants — which means they allow for more granular targeting and a wider reach/scale. However, this option also requires a larger sample size to start off, as you need to begin by targeting everyone and then narrow down to your target audience over time.

Furthermore, unincentivized surveys allow for increased data accuracy and improved privacy measures. After all, when your participants aren’t being rewarded for their answers, they’re more likely to respond honestly instead of providing “inaccurate information because their only goal is a financial one”.

However, unincentivized surveys do have some limitations, as well. First, they have a limit in length — which means that longer surveys will be quite difficult to gather enough data for. To deal with this issue at Latana, we modularize our surveys and then make use of advanced data processing techniques, such as MRP, to stitch datasets back together.

The result is data with increased accuracy and reliability — something most brands are keen to get their hands on.

Why Unincentivized Surveys Provide Better Quality Brand Tracking Data

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both survey options. Incentivized surveys allow brands to boost response rates, run longer surveys, and target deeper profiles. But they also can attract the wrong types of respondents, leading to low-quality data and fraud.

Unincentivized surveys boast more accurate data, wider reach, and more granular targeting. And because no reward is involved to possibly complicate matters or bias the results, they’re able to deliver more reliable brand tracking data.

Still, taking the pros and cons of both options into account, we believe that unincentivized surveys provide better brand tracking data overall. While they can’t be quite as long and you can be more limited in your question formats, ultimately, unincentivized surveys’ pros win out.

Yes, it can be nice to have respondents answer long, complicated surveys — but if you can’t rely on their responses being wholly accurate and must contend with issues of fraud, is it really worth it?

Unincentivized surveys may require larger sample sizes, which can lead to higher initial sampling costs — but, in the end, you’re gifted with far more viable data. And when you’re using your brand tracking data to make important, influential marketing decisions, accurate data is an absolute must.


Consider the following example: You’re the brand manager of a mid-sized company that sells kitchenware, called Kitching. You’re just now setting up brand tracking, as you expanded to new markets in Q3 of last year, and want to see how you’re faring.

Therefore, you choose to track (https://latana.com/topics-brand-awareness/](https://latana.com/post/how-to-track-brand-understanding/), brand consideration, and brand associations. But before your surveys can be rolled out, you have to make a choice: incentivized or unincentivized.

You’ve been given the full run-down of both options. You know that while an incentivized survey would allow for a longer survey with deeper profiling, it could also produce biased, less reliable results.

You also know that — while an unincentivized survey may need to be shorter and require a larger sample size — it will provide more accurate results and allow for improved consumer privacy.

Seeing as you’ll be using your brand tracking data to make important decisions about product expansion in your newer markets, the most important factor for Kitching is accuracy. Therefore, you choose to go with the unincentivized survey.

Final Thoughts

Incentivized or unincentivized — ultimately, the choice is up to each individual brand. After all, no one knows the inner workings of your company better than you.

However, if accuracy, reliability, and authenticity are factors your brand considers to be important when using data to make business decisions, then we would recommend going with the unincentivized option.

And if you’d like to learn more about Latana’s processes — from mobile-optimized surveys to what MRP is — then feel free to check out our Whitepapers.

Better Brand Tracking Insights. Faster Growth.

Find out how Latana uses mobile-optimzed surveys to help you better understand the effectiveness of your marketing activity.

Brand Tracking

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