3 sample considerations for your next brand tracker

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Posted Apr 23, 2024
Bridget Milnes

What you don’t know can hurt you. Especially in your sampling for tracking studies.

When it comes to market research surveys, sampling is an often-ignored part of the process. Many aren’t thinking about who is taking their surveys unless they see something hinky in their data. By the time that happens, the horse has already left the barn. Where respondents are coming from (and why) is a crucial part of the research process. If you’re running a standalone study, you can always make corrections on the sample and try again, but how does this apply to tracking work? What if you already have historical data you’re making decisions about? Have you made the best plan for your work for today? For tomorrow? For next year?

Is sample important in your brand trackers?

If you haven’t given it much thought, you’re not alone. If you haven’t had negative repercussions, you should count yourself lucky—either way, you should guard yourself for the future. Reliable, trendable data is the cornerstone of any long-term research study—so don’t undo all of your hard work by forgetting about your sample.

You need your brand tracker to detect real changes in the market and to do that, you need steady research variables—this includes your sample. Beginnings are important, so at this stage, the attention and care you put into your sample is imperative. Here are the top three things you should focus on with sampling for trackers: consistency, quality, and reliability. 


If you’re going to do one thing right, it should be to ensure your sample supplier blend remains steady from wave to wave. Why is it so important to keep your sample blend constant? Because it’s a variable you’ll want to make sure isn’t driving any data changes you see over time. You see, each sample supplier has its own way of recruiting and maintaining their panel. And because the background of respondents can greatly affect their opinions, the blend of this sample stands to affect the data you’ll gather. For that reason, you want to make sure that any positive upswing you see is due to your efforts, not due to a shift in sample or a supply of people who are simply more likely to give positive responses.


Choosing the right sources for a tracker is an equally important part of the process. Each sample supplier has its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the parts of the population they can best access. This can be along demographic lines or based on activities and interests—each company has its own approach to the way they find people to take surveys. You wouldn’t go to the Ritz to mud wrestle, right? In that way, where you go to find the target audience for your study is key. Additionally, there’s a lot of bad data due to lax quality, or even fraud. For us, a major component is prioritizing quality far before we’re actively recruiting for a survey. To that end, while we at aytm may have best-in-class quality control technology on our platform, it’s always safer to reduce the need for that at the source. Our proprietary panel, Paid Viewpoint, is held to the highest quality standards, and the vendors we partner with share our values.


Never put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to sample. You want to design your study to reach far beyond year one and into the next decade. Even if you’re not initially anticipating your needs may last that long, a good brand tracker gets more and more valuable the longer you have historical data for it. This means, when it comes to sample, you’ll want to protect your study from forces outside your control by planning ahead. Remember that panel sizes fluctuate over time. Sample companies are frequently acquired and absorbed into other companies with different recruitment and maintenance approaches. In order to guard yourself from the unexpected, make sure to factor in some diversity and have a plan in place for any unforeseen changes. 

Let us help!

Need a little extra guidance? At aytm, we put together custom sample plans for all the tracking studies we run for our clients. So we’d be happy to help you account for all of this and more when helping get you set up!

want to get the most out of your next study? Check out our brand tracker guide

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