The Risks and Rewards of Omnibus Surveys

If you work in the marketing business, you have likely heard of omnibus surveys. Omnibus surveys are large-scale surveys whose costs, distribution and results are shared by several companies. Each company contributes questions or research areas, and each company gets to view the results of each question or research area.

Some companies are hesitant to participate in omnibus surveys, fearing there might be certain risks involved. Here are a few of the most common concerns and the facts behind them.

Is Cost Sharing a Financial Risk?

In an omnibus survey agreement, the costs are typically split evenly among the companies participating, although at times they may be split proportionately based on the amount of information they are pursuing through the survey. Either way you slice it, omnibus surveys typically are not a financial risk. Your payment will go through the marketing company directly and will not be shared with the other companies involved. You will likely have a chance to see what information the other companies are researching through the survey in advance as well, so you know what you are paying for.

Is it Smarter to Keep Results Exclusive?

Many companies hold their research methodology and resulting information very closely, hoping to leverage their exclusive results as a competitive advantage over other companies. There is some logic in this-exclusive insights can lead to serious breakthroughs. But an omnibus survey is often shared between differing companies in varying sectors, all of whom are seeking different pieces of information, so you won’t be giving your competitors a lucky break. Not to mention, it’s rare that market research results are so ground-breaking that they need to become a closely guarded company secret. The information gathered will shine some light on certain opportunities, but likely won’t be shocking or anything that your competitors are incapable of discovering for themselves. Rather, the advantage comes from how you interpret and use the information to your company’s benefit.

Is Another Company’s Research Really Valuable?

How beneficial can it possibly be to have access to another unrelated company’s omnibus survey results? There’s a good chance that the other involved companies are in completely different sectors and may be researching areas that you don’t think concern you, so is it really worth your time?

Actually, it is. It absolutely is. Researching the same things and looking at the same demographics over and over again will lead to the same conclusions, over and over again. Often, looking at something completely different will produce unexpected moments of discovery. Sharing omnibus survey results can turn out to be a pivotal moment for your company.

Omnibus surveys are a great tool to save research costs while gaining unique insight. As long as you are working with a reputable marketing company to execute the survey, there should be no real risks involved. Instead, it’s a low-risk move with potentially very valuable results-a win-win situation. It’s a good idea to give omnibus surveys a try. You never know what you might find.