online focus groups | market research | online research | qualitative focus group research | online audio focus groups

online audio - faq

Because online audio is a relatively new concept in research, we are often asked questions about how it works. 


Listed here are some of the most common issues that are raised, but please do contact us if you have other questions and would like to discuss online audio research in more detail.

Tel. 01337 810494

"Mindspace provides a fantastically unique and high quality online qualitative research service, with enthusiasm and skill. They are both professional and personable, and a pleasure to work with."

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Does it matter that you can't see people and their facial expressions, body language etc?

Not at all, we have never found this to be a disadvantage. In any phone conversation you can gauge people's mood and reactions very effectively by the tone of their voice, their interest in contributing and the general sense of energy around the topic, and a good moderator will be working all the time to bring everyone in to the conversation so there is no 'hiding'. When we have combined and compared online audio with face-to-face groups there has been no lack of depth or insight with OA - indeed people are often more relaxed talking on the phone where there is privacy and anonymity and they are not threatened in any way by others in the group.

How are respondents recruited?

Just the same way as face-to-face research. Our team of recruiters are briefed to find people who fit the relevant criteria which they do using their own methods and contacts, or they work from contact lists provided by the client. Because location is not an issue, list recruitment is an excellent method for ensuring a really good geographic spread of respondents.

Does it limit the sample to only those who have computers and can cope with technology?

You need access to a pc, but this is rarely a problem these days for any sector we are likely to research. In terms of technology, apart from clicking on a web link and following some very simple joining instructions, no tecchie skills are needed at all. Pensioners in particular love online audio because they don't have to go anywhere and can just have a good old chat on the phone.

How long does an online audio group last?

The same as a face-to-face group, ie up to 90 minutes. OA groups are very time-efficient because there's no downtime while the moderator sorts through boards, or hands round materials, or people look for their glasses etc - every moment of the time is dedicated to focusing on the research issues.

Can the client be involved with the moderating?

Yes in principle. Observers can communicate with the moderator through a private text-chat box during the session, eg to suggest a certain question or to provide information that the moderator needs. Also they can join the verbal conversation and so co-moderate (although we make sure this is prepared quite carefully beforehand).

Can you mix online audio with face-to-face?

Absolutely, and it's something we do regularly. Because the process and the outcomes are so similar the methods dovetail completely and it would be hard to know from the end product which elements had been done in which way.

What kind of debrief do you get?

Exactly the same as you would for face-to-face project. All the sessions are recorded and transcribed, and the feedback is used to write up a report which is usually delivered in powerpoint. Online Audio debriefs tend to be very visual because they include a lot of the digital material used during the interview sessions, with vox pops from the groups as well as straight verbatims which really bring the findings to life.

How can clients/others observe the groups?

You would join in just the same way as respondents do, ie via a web link and a conference call. You can then see and hear everything that is going on, and you can text private messages to the moderator about anything you would like asked or investigated further. You can be anywhere at all to do this - at work, at home, at the airport - so it's the ultimate in flexible working practice. All the sessions are AV recorded so if anyone is unable to observe the live session, you can request and view it later on DVD.

How does it work for international research?

Mindspace can run online audio groups or depths anywhere in the English-speaking world. The process is exactly the same for any country, with the only difference being slightly higher costs for international conference calls and organising recruitment.

How does OA compare pricewise with face-to-face?

The cost of the research element is the same, ie project planning and management, set up, recruitment, incentives, preparing topic guides, moderating, transcribing, analysing, reporting and presenting. Where you save money is on the additional costs that can really add on to a project eg travel, venue hire, production of research materials - none of which are required.  As such, you can save hundreds of pounds on a research project which can help with budget control, or the money can be put towards more actual research.

What does a live demo involve?

A live demo takes you through a typical focus group so you can see how the system works and experience what it's like to be a respondent or an observer. We send you a link to the moderator's screen and talk to you on the phone while showing the various slides we would use, and demonstrate how we encourage respondents to discuss and interact together. The demo itself takes 10 minutes and we allow a further 5 minutes for chat - though we're happy to chat for 25 if there are lots of questions and ideas to discuss.

How many people can see the demo?

Up to twelve at a time, and they can be anywhere in the country or world to take part.

What aspect do you value the most?

Probably the fact that it's totally environmentally friendly.  The carbon footprint of the average focus group is not good when you consider how many miles are involved in everyone getting there - whereas online costs the environment nothing.  It's also compliant with every organisation's corporate social responsibility policy which is an important consideration these days.







online audio focus groups - bring online research to life