Web Research is About More Than Social Media

by Tracy Panko on April 11, 2011

JP Morgan Chase recently conducted a test using a $5 ATM fee in Illinois.

At first glance, when I read about this—and found that shortly thereafter the market test was stopped—I assumed this meant that no one would accept such a fee and overall, the concept was a failure. But that conclusion would have been presumptuous at best, based on limited data and the narrow scope of my consideration.

Instead, using the Spiral16 web measurement platform, we conducted a short research project (5 days worth of data) focused solely on the terms “Chase,” “Bank,” “ATM,” and “fee” or “fees.” The results were eye-opening and educational.

Most of the relevant results on Twitter were negative, but that doesn't show the whole picture.

Social Media Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story

Most of the sentiment on Twitter was negative. Users mostly agreed that the fee was unwarranted and showed that customers would leave. Some examples:

• From @joshuanovy: Chase bank tests out $5 ATM fees in IL and TX for non-Chase customers. I’ll be testing out beating the hell out of any ATM charging me $5.
• From @theworkroomNYC: Seriously, Chase Bank…$5 ATM fees for non Chase customers. I am a customer and you are making me rethink it.

However, if you expand your view and look at all of the sources of information available on the Internet, you would see that overall sentiment was not completely negative.

Negative sentiment only made up 49% of the web pages concerning the ATM increase.

Many of the news sources have concluded that this is a push back against financial reforms. Brian Foran, a banking analyst at Nomura Securities International in New York, says the rising fees are part of an effort by the banks to recoup some of the income they lost from two recent regulatory changes. “J.P. Morgan has a secondary motivation of trying to send a pretty clear message to Washington that if you regulate prices, we have to charge more somewhere else,” Foran says.

Even if as a consumer, I would not pay a $5 ATM fee – I am interested in learning more about the financial regulation that is supposed to “help” the American consumer, but instead puts the burden on us to replace lost revenue from the Durbin Amendment.

Online Data From All Over the Web is Valuable

Market tests continue to be an effective way of getting a quick evaluation on a change to your products and services. The great news for business decision-makers is this:

The Web provides a tremendous opportunity to supplement the results of the market test with unsolicited data from current customers, prospective customers, market analysts, news sources, industry experts, and more.

In just a few short days, over 700 web pages discussed Chase Bank $5 ATM Fee. The sources of that data expanded well beyond Twitter and other social sources.

News websites accounted for 56% of web chatter about the proposed ATM fee increase.

According to CNBC.com, JP Morgan Chase ended its controversial test of higher ATM fees targeted at non-bank customers on Friday April 1, citing sources at the bank that say they have no plans at present to permanently increase ATM fees and no further tests are being planned.

For all of us conducting research; whether that’s Internet research, market tests, focus groups, or structured surveys, we need to remember to keep our minds open to drawing conclusions based on the details found in the data. Don’t be overwhelmed with the “data deluge.”

(Gartner predicted that enterprise data in all forms will grow 650% over the next five years.)

It’s important that the data that’s relevant to you rises to the top, and equally important to remember to take the bigger online picture into consideration, not just social media.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Van de Walle April 12, 2011 at 12:54 am

Organizations float trial balloons all the time – the value of the real time web is the ability to get insights like the above and act on them.

What would have been really interesting? Some multivariate testing. $5 in Illinois. $2.25 in Michigan. $0.97 in Florida. Free in Texas. Etc.

But Chase is probably much smarter than we all give them credit for – even if they knew this was a dumb idea.

Great post.

Reply

Eric Melin April 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Thanks for the comment, Dave! I think you are right and maybe they are monitoring online sentiment with this test–either way, I hope they are looking at the bigger web picture!

Reply

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