Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Dot Com 2.0
Firepoll: get free iTunes, ringtones, etc in exchange for taking surveys.
I think this is a great model - it combines the ambition to define entirely new kinds of economic exchange that was so prevalent during the bubble, and leverages the dot com (and mobile) 2.0 infrastructure to achieve it. Excellent stuff.
Except there's a big problem. You have to download and install the Firepoll client to your machine. I think this is a strategic error - a big mistake. If members are only taking surveys, why make them d/l and install an app? Why not just coordinate through a secure site?
OK, I understand the reasons why - largely that the value prop to marketers becomes much less compelling (I don't think the technical hurdles to making this realtime over the Web are huge, given Ajax, etc) - but I think the tradeoff is too great. I think this puts it kind of over the spyware/adware/malware line. It may not actually be, but the perception will fall towards that end of the spectrum. This is a significant barrier to consumption - that's the error.
Part of the battle in this space is to educate marketers, who have been tech-phobic for a very long time - the geeks and the droids separate out when they're kids, and seemingly never get back together again. So I think Firepoll would do better to focus on a consumer, rather than marketer, friendly model. Because marketers are slowly waking up to the rich possibilities of tech - but the inverse is unlikely: consumers are not gonna give up huge amounts of privacy (on average). The consumer is king maybe should replace the content/distribution dichotomy.
So: great idea, great model, but strategic error IMHO.
Hi, I'm Will Allred, founder of Firepoll. I'm glad you like our model! We're excited for our upcoming launch at the end of the month.
Regarding the 1.1MB client that Firepoll users download in order to take surveys, you've hit on a point we debated internally for several months. In the end we determined that existing survey software leaves a study in the field far too long - this is the problem Firepoll addresses. Using Firepoll, a marketer can have statistically accurate results literally in minutes. However, to do this, we must detect who is available to take surveys. Our research showed that users preferred a small client app to an open browser connection. We'll continue to go to any lengths necessary to help users understand that Firepoll is 100% free of spyware, adware, malware, etc. and that we only report aggregate survey results. No individual or uniquely identifying information goes back to our clients.
I'd love to hear more of your thoughts around barriers to consumption. If you like, feel free to email me directly at will at firepoll dot com.