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Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording


       Passive Data Collection,
       Observation and

Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       All ESOMAR world research codes and
       guidelines, including latest updates, are
       available online at

       © 2009 ESOMAR. All rights reserved.	Last revised February 2009

       No part of this publication may be reproduced or copied in any form or by
       any means, or translated, without the prior permission in writing of ESOMAR.
       ESOMAR codes and guidelines are drafted in English and the English texts are
       the definitive versions.

Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording


       Passive Data Collection,
       Observation and
       1.	Introduction                                                    2
       1.1. Active data collection                                        2

       2.	Examples of passive data collection                             2

       3.     Key ethical principles                                      3
       3.1.   Personal data                                               3
       3.2.   Informed consent                                            4
       3.3.   Proper use of the data                                      4
       3.4.   Disclosure to third parties                                 4
       3.5.   Public place                                                5
       3.6.   Publication or broadcast                                    5

       4.	Audio and video recording of interviews and group discussions   5
       4.1. Respondents’ agreement to the use of recording                6
       4.2. Client rights to copies of the original data                  6
       4.3. Safeguards on the release of recordings                       7
       4.4. Client observation of interviews                              8
       4.5. Web video streaming of interviews and group discussions       8
       4.6. Audio recording and listening in to telephone interviews      9

       5.	Observation of human behaviour                                   9
       5.1. Participant Observation                                       10
       5.1.1. Participation in Internet activity                          11
       5.2. Undisclosed observation                                       11
       5.2.1. Public places                                               11
       5.2.2. Private places                                              12
       5.3. Mystery shopping                                              12

       6.	Incidental data                                                 12
       6.1. Database enhancement                                          13
       6.2. Loyalty cards                                                 14

       7.	Retail tracking                                                 14

       8.     Physical monitoring                                         14

       9.     Further information                                         16

Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording



       1. Introduction                             Active data collection requires informed
                                                   consent from the respondent who vol-
       The ESOMAR Guideline on Tape and            untarily answers the questions and can
       Video Recording and Client Observation      withdraw at anytime with all answers
       of Interviews and Group Discussions         to be erased if requested. The purpose
       was last updated in 1997. Since then        of the data collection must be explained
       there has been a great increase in          and a guarantee given that the data will
       other forms of passive data collection      be used for research purposes only.
       and advances in technology promise
       many more to come.
                                                   2. Examples of Passive
       This document aims to bring the             Data Collection
       existing Guideline up to date and in line
       with the latest international develop-      Developments in video technology
       ments for best practice, and to expand      have created new opportunities for
       the coverage to include all forms of        observation within the market research
       observation and passive data collection     arena and this includes remote viewing
       going beyond the original Guideline text    from other locations, including across
       which is mainly contained in sections       borders, as well as a resurgence of in-
       4.0 – 4.4 of this Guideline.                terest in ‘ethnographic’ research which
                                                   involves observing and filming people
       1.1. Active data collection                 in natural settings over an extended
       Rather than attempt to define the many      period of time.
       aspects of passive data collection, an
       outline of the components of active         There has also been an increasing use
       data collection should set the scene        of CCTV (closed circuit television) in
       for this Guideline. The typical active      public places. This can incorporate a
       form of market research data collec-        variety of different scenarios includ-
       tion involves the asking and answering      ing observing behaviour in a shopping
       of questions. An interviewer may be         centre, which can be done openly
       involved, either in person or on the        (where no attempt is made to conceal
       phone, or there may be self comple-         the fact that participants are being
       tion of the questionnaire on paper or       observed and consumers can expect
       on-line.                                    that their behaviour is both observed
                                                   and recorded), or less openly (where


Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       the observers are concealed and the         brain scans, eye-tracking and RFID
       observation is not disclosed).              (radio frequency identification).

       For some time websites have been col-       These developments bring a growing
       lecting browsing data and other passive     need to differentiate market research
       measures based on techniques such as        from other activities and for transparency
       cookies and web bugs.                       with respondents about the information
                                                   that is being collected, especially in view
       However, the latest online research         of data protection legislation. In many
       techniques now include the observation      countries, some of these activities are
       of online groups and bloggers, often        controlled by data privacy legislation,
       linked with growing marketing methods       but these activities can also raise ethical
       such as WOM (Word of Mouth) which           concerns as well as legislative issues.
       rely upon observing how people inter-
       act with one another in both the face
       to face and virtual environments, also      3. Key ethical principles
       in areas such as mystery shopping and
       employee behaviour.                         It is not practical to give detailed guid-
                                                   ance on every possible form of passive
       Behavioural data collected as an            data collection. In this section some of
       incidental bi-product of other activities   the key ethical and legal principles that
       are becoming available and raising          must be taken into account are spelled
       concerns:                                   out. In subsequent sections considera-
       • Smart cards and scanners are              tion is given to some of the more com-
       increasingly used to collect a wide         mon forms of passive data collection.
       range of consumer or member beha-
       viour;                                      3.1. Personal data
       • Mobile phones can track geographic        Legal requirements for data protection
       location;                                   deal exclusively with the gathering,
       • Ticket booking systems can track          processing and storage of personally
       destinations.                               identifiable data. This includes any
                                                   information relating to an identified or
       In the future, technologies that are        identifiable natural person (i.e. a private
       currently being developed will include      individual as opposed to a corporate or


Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       other comparable entity). An identifi-         3.3. Proper use of the data
       able person is someone who can be              The use of personal data is restricted
       identified directly from the data record       to those things that the data subject
       if it includes such things as name,            has agreed to. If it is collected for
       address, telephone number or email             research purposes, it may not be used
       address. Personally identifiable data          for other purposes.
       also includes data which makes indirect
       identification possible, in particular by      3.4. Disclosure to third parties
       reference to an identification number          Personally identifiable data can be
       or the person’s physical, physiological,       passed on to a third party only with
       mental, economic, cultural or social           the permission of the data subject and
       characteristics and location.                  to achieve the purpose for which the
                                                      data was collected. Data collected for
       Where passive data is collected that           research purposes cannot be used for
       contains no personal identification of         non research purposes. Data which
       data subjects, there is minimal risk of        has been annonymised, and so is no
       data protection breaches.                      longer personal data can be passed on
                                                      to third parties and processed for other
       3.2. Informed consent                          purposes.
       Before personally identifiable data can
       be processed, the data subject needs           A data record on its own may not
       to give informed consent. The respond-         identify an individual, but in conjunc-
       ent must know about the nature of the          tion with other linked data records an
       data being collected, the reasons for          individual may be ‘identifiable’. This
       processing it and what will be done            is a complex area with statisticians
       with it. Data subjects should not be           failing to agree on what are necessary
       misled, lied to or tricked. Participation is   minimum guidelines for data release.
       voluntary and they can withdraw at any         Researchers need to use conservative
       time. There may be instances in public         approaches to data release and transfer
       places where informed consent from             – bearing in mind our wish to retain
       individuals is impossible to achieve. In       special status for market research data.
       those cases public notice should be
       given about the data collection – e.g.
       CCTV operation.


Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       3.5. Public place                            4. Audio and video
       Things that people are observed doing        recording of inter-
       in a public place cannot be regarded as      views and group dis-
       private or inaccessible to a researcher.     cussions
       However, the definition of a public
       place is subject to cultural variation and   Audio and video recording of interviews
       the researcher should take into account      are now commonly used in research
       local circumstances and customs.             and widely accepted by respondents.
                                                    Two issues arise under the ICC/ESO-
       3.6. Publication or broadcast                MAR International Code on Market and
       When somebody publishes or broad-            Social Research:
       casts their views or opinions, this
       information is in the public domain.         (1) What form of permission should be
       This is particularly important on the        obtained from respondents when such
       internet where people make use of            techniques are used?
       open chat rooms or forums to make            (2) How far, and under what safe-
       their views known (even if it is with        guards, may audio or video recordings
       an adjusted identity). There are many        be played or supplied to people outside
       places on the internet which require         the research organisation carrying out
       users to join or register or apply for       the research?
       membership, before being permitted to
       participate. The term ‘walled gardens’       Video-recording presents the most
       describes well these semi-public             obvious problems. First, it is far more
       forums. If the internet chat room or         likely that a respondent may be identi-
       forum is not a ‘walled garden’, i.e.         fied from a video than from an audio
       anybody can be there and say what            recording. Second, it is also more likely
       they like, then this is the equivalent of    that requests will be made by clients,
       publication or broadcasting. The views       advertising agencies etc. to see a video
       expressed and the identity attached is       recording, and/or to have a copy of this,
       in the public domain. Views expressed        than in the case of an audio recording.
       in internet areas that are “walled
       gardens” should be treated as private        If a copy of a video recording passes
       and the researcher should announce           out of the hands of the research
       his presence and purpose and seek            organisation it becomes even more
       co-operation.                                important, although more difficult, to


Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       ensure its proper use and to pro-            exclusively for supervisory, control or
       tect respondents’ anonymity. This            analysis purposes and where it will be
       problem is most acute in the case of         seen or heard only by the interviewer,
       business-to-business, medical and            moderator, supervisor or researcher
       other research among special sub-            working on the survey. In both these
       groups of the population where there         situations, respondents must be told
       is much higher probability that some         about the recording at the end of the
       of the respondents may be identifiable       interview and be given the opportunity
       by people who subsequently see the           to see or hear the relevant section
       recording; but in principle it applies to    of the record and, if they so wish, to
       all types of surveys.                        have this destroyed or to have their
                                                    image pixelated so that they cannot be
       Public interest in data protection and       identified.
       in avoiding unnecessary intrusions on
       privacy means that researchers must          Some countries have legal restrictions
       therefore ensure that audio and video        on the use of recording devices which
       recording is used with great care and        would require advance notice in all
       with appropriate safeguards for the          cases. This is particularly the case for
       rights of respondents. This is provided      recording telephone conversations, but
       for by Article 7 of the ICC/ESOMAR           may also apply to any recording device.
       International Code. This Guideline sets
       out in more detail the ways in which         Closed circuit television or video
       this Article should be applied in practice   streaming should not be carried out
       with the following recommendations.          without permission in advance from
       4.1. Respondents’ agreement to the
       use of recording                             4.2. Client rights to copies of the
       Respondents must be told at the              original data
       beginning of the interview or group          It is generally accepted research
       discussion that tape or video recording      practice that the client is entitled to be
       techniques are to be used unless this        supplied, at cost, with duplicate copies
       knowledge might bias the respondent’s        of the original survey information
       subsequent behaviour. The only other         obtained from respondents, provided
       exception where advance notification         that this has been anonymised. Where
       is not essential is for recordings made      this information is held in the form of


Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       audio or video recordings, rather than       In particularly sensitive cases, the
       on questionnaires, there is usually no       possibility (where technically feasible)
       problem if it is supplied to the client in   of blurring or obscuring the identifying
       the form of anonymised transcripts or        characteristics of respondents should
       anonymous audio recordings (although         be considered when a video recording
       in both cases care may be needed             is to be released outside the research
       to remove identifying comments or            organisation. In certain cases it may
       other clues from the material). In the       be sufficient to release the soundtrack
       case of video recordings the danger          only.
       of respondent identification is much
       greater; and in this and other cases         When a recording is released in con-
       where the anonymity rule might be at         formity with these recommendations it
       risk the following recommendations           should be labelled with the appropriate
       must be followed.                            restrictions on the purposes for which
                                                    it may be used. The researcher must
       4.3. Safeguards on the release of            also ensure, under Article 12 of the
       recordings                                   ICC/ESOMAR International Code, that
       Recordings must not be allowed out           the recipient of the recording is aware
       of the hands of the researcher or            of the requirements of the Code and
       research organisation carrying out the       the need to abide by these (the restric-
       study unless explicit permission has         tions on the use of recordings should
       previously been obtained from all the        be made known at the start of the
       respondents included in the recording.       project). The recipient should be told
                                                    that permission must be obtained from
       Where such permission is to be               the researcher (and where appropriate
       obtained the researcher must ensure          the respondents) before the recor-
       that respondents are given as much           ding is used for any other purpose not
       relevant information as possible about       previously agreed; and that under no
       the future use of the recording, in          circumstances may the recording be
       particular:                                  used for non-research purposes such
                                                    as promotion or direct sales activities.
       • to whom the recording is to be given
       • to whom it is likely to be shown           If any part of a recording is to be
       • for what research purposes it is likely    played (but not handed over) by
       to be used.                                  the researcher to anyone other than


Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       authorised research personnel within         International Code and agree to abide
       his own organisation, the researcher         by these.
       must ensure that the requirements of
       Article 7 of the ICC/ESOMAR Interna-         The researcher must also try to ensure
       tional Code are fully met. No reference      that such observers do not include
       may be made to the identity of any of        people who are likely to know, or have
       the respondents involved without their       any direct dealings with, any of the
       prior permission.                            individual respondents being interviewed
                                                    (for example client sales staff in the case
       4.4. Client observation of interviews        of a survey among business managers
       Similar considerations arise where an        or doctors). Observers should be told
       interview or group discussion is to be       that if they find they know any of the
       observed by a client or his representa-      participants, they must stop observing
       tives (including advertising agency staff,   and notify the researcher.
       etc.), whether for quality control pur-
       poses or to gain a better understanding      Respondents must be told that the
       of the findings of the research. This is     interview or discussion is being
       especially the case where the fact of        observed by other persons.
       being observed is not easily apparent
       to respondents, for example where the        The identity of the client need not
       observation is in a separate viewing         be revealed unless asked for by the
       room via closed circuit television. The      respondents.
       following recommendations deal with
       client observation of interviews.            4.5. Web video streaming of inter-
                                                    views and group discussions
       In certain cases clients and their           In circumstances where observers
       representatives may be allowed under         will be watching a video stream in
       the ICC/ESOMAR International Code to         remote locations, the researcher still
       observe an interview or group discus-        has a responsibility to ensure that
       sion at the time it is carried out (with     respondents’ rights are protected as
       or without the simultaneous use of           if the observers were at the research
       recording equipment). Wherever this          location.
       happens the researcher must ensure
       that all such observers are fully aware      Video streaming does not work in the
       of the requirements of the ICC/ESOMAR        same way as most Internet content.


Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       While most internet content like web      and intended recipient even realizes
       pages and e-mail can pass through         there is a hidden message) or other
       IP networks (such as the Internet)        means such as a digital watermark, so
       as plain text, video must be encoded      that the origin of videos can be traced
       first. Encoding is a process where a      back unequivocally in the event of them
       mathematical algorithm compresses         becoming public without the respond-
       and discards video data. This proc-       ents’ permission.
       ess removes blank audio and freezes
       images where there is no movement;        4.6. Audio recording and listening in
       this makes video streams smaller and      to telephone interviews
       more efficient by just concentrating      In many countries there are legal restric-
       data on the movement of objects or        tions on listening in to, or recording phone
       people within the video. Once the video   calls. Some allow exceptions when the
       is encoded (whether it’s live or on       purpose of the listening in is part of a
       demand), the video is transmitted over    quality control strategy. ESOMAR cannot
       the internet in small chunks, which are   provide country by country guidance.
       played by the client media player then    However, the use in the introduction to
       discarded, they aren’t saved anywhere     the interview of a phrase such as “this
       on the client side.                       interview may be recorded for staff
                                                 training purposes” is recommended.
       If the video transmission system used
       does deliver a copy of the recording to   Where a client wishes to listen in to a
       the receiving computer, the researcher    telephone interview, or listen to audio
       must take steps to ensure that any copy   recordings of interviews, the guidance in
       of the video stream saved in the cache    the previous section on client observing
       of the observer’s computer is either      applies.
       deleted or is not used in a way which
       breaches this Guideline.
                                                 5. Observation of
       ESOMAR recommends that steps are          human behaviour
       taken to ensure that video streams and
       digital video files are “fingerprinted”   When researchers set out to observe
       via steganography (art and science        human behaviour not by interview but
       of writing hidden messages in such a      just by watching, two general courses
       way that no one apart from the sender     are open to them. They can be openly


Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       involved in the activity they are obser-                          • Researchers explain significant fac-
       ving – participant observers, or they can                         tors that may be expected to influence
       remain aloof from the activity – acting                           the person’s willingness to participate
       almost like voyeurs or covert observers.                          (such as risks, discomfort, adverse
       The ethical issues vary depending on the                          effects, or limitations on confidential-
       approach taken.                                                   ity) and other aspects about which the
                                                                         person may inquire.
       5.1. Participant Observation
       Participant observation is a well estab-                          • Researchers tell participants that they
       lished social science technique and has                           can withdraw from the research at any
       been used in investigations of human                              time as well as explain the foreseeable
       interactions. The Ethical Standards of                            consequences of declining to partici-
       the American Psychological Associa-                               pate or withdrawing.
       tion1 provides excellent guidance par-
       ticularly on the very critical component                          • For persons who are legally incapable
       of “informed consent”, guidance which                             of giving informed consent, research-
       ESOMAR endorses.                                                  ers nevertheless provide an appropriate
                                                                         explanation, obtain the person’s con-
       Here are some of the features of                                  sent, and obtain appropriate permission
       informed consent as described in the                              from a legally authorised person, if such
       Standards:                                                        substitute consent is permitted by law.

       • Prior to conducting research,                                   • Researchers inform participants of
       researchers enter into a documented                               their anticipated sharing or further use
       agreement with participants that clari-                           of personally identifiable research data
       fies the nature of the research and the                           and of the possibility of unanticipated
       responsibilities of each party.                                   future uses.

       • When obtaining this informed con-                               • Researchers provide a prompt
       sent, researchers use language that                               opportunity for participants to obtain
       is reasonably understandable to the                               appropriate information about the
       participants.                                                     nature, results, and conclusions of the
                                                                         research, and they attempt to correct
       • Informed consent is obtained before                             any misconceptions that participants
       recording the subjects in any way.                                may have.
              Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. American Psychological Association, Washington, DC. American
       10   Psychologist. Vol 57(12), Dec 2002, 1060-1073.

Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       The APA Standard also advises on            Internet areas which are set up specifi-
       reporting:                                  cally for respondents to visit in order
                                                   to participate in research – i.e. created
       “In reports or presentations of their       for the researcher for the purpose of
       research, researchers do not disclose       research, should be subject to all the
       confidential or personally identifiable     requirements of informed consent and
       information concerning their subjects       confidentiality, required of other direct
       unless the person has given written         research approaches.
       permission (or unless there is some
       other ethical or legal authorisation        5.2. Undisclosed observation
       to do so). “Ordinarily,” the Standards      There is wide cultural variability in
       add, “in such scientific and professional   levels of covert or undisclosed obser-
       presentations, psychologists disguise       vation that are tolerable within differ-
       confidential information concerning         ent countries. For instance in the UK
       such persons or organizations so that       speed cameras are ubiquitous, while
       they are not individually identifiable      in the USA there was huge public
       to others and so that discussions do        outcry against installing them as they
       not cause harm to subjects who might        were seen as violating privacy. Atti-
       identify themselves.”                       tudes towards privacy differ between
                                                   cultures. Observation in public places,
       5.1.1. Participation in Internet activity   whether disclosed or undisclosed, is
       If people express their views in            legitimate. Where possible and always
       public internet areas, where they would     when required by legislation, research-
       expect anybody who was interested           ers using undisclosed observation
       could see and read and transmit their       techniques in public places (such as
       ideas, then this is in the public domain.   shops, restaurants etc.) should provide
                                                   notification to the public.
       ‘Walled gardens’ need more careful
       handling. The researcher joining a          5.2.1. Public places
       restricted group intent on research,        If videoing people in public places, the
       should announce his presence and            researcher should display clear warning
       objectives and seek the permission          signs. If observation is taking place in
       either of the area moderator, if there is   an environment, research ethics may
       one, or the members of the group.           be addressed by placing a notification at
                                                   the entrance to the store or restaurant


Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       stating that observations for research         5.2.2. Private places
       purposes are taking place. People who          Observation in private places is not
       elect not to participate have the right        allowed without the explicit consent of
       not to enter. In circumstances where it        the subjects.
       is not reasonable to expect an individual
       not to enter, in a hospital for example,       5.3. Mystery shopping
       people should be given the right to have       Mystery shopping is a variant of
       their data anonymised by obscuring             passive data collection in that the
       identifiable features, or deleted if this is   data subject does not know that data
       feasible without affecting the results of      is being collected. ESOMAR has a
       the research.                                  separate Guideline on Mystery shopping
                                                      giving detailed advice.
       Contact information should be dis-
       played with some prominence in a suf-          6. Incidental data
       ficiently large and readable typeface. A
       typical statement may read as follows:         In this digital age much opportunity
                                                      exists for personal data records to be
       EXAMPLE NOTICE:                                created which are incidental outputs
                                                      from some everyday transaction or
       Observations and videotaping for mar-          activity. A mobile phone will create
       ket research purposes are taking place         records not just of who you call and
       inside the store today.                        who calls you, but also approximately
       Company name; contact details.                 where you have been – which mobile
                                                      cell areas you have been connected to.
       A similar notification might be used at        All of this data is legitimately collected
       the entrance to a service provider:            for specific purposes – billing you
                                                      accurately or knowing how to connect
       EXAMPLE NOTICE:                                calls to you.

       During the month of February, we will          Such personal data can be processed
       be conducting random observation of            for those purposes and analysed for
       interactions between customers and             management purposes though it will
       sales staff for the purpose of improving       usually have very limited sets of data
       our services to the public.                    variables and will not allow much by
       Company name; contact details.                 way of general research insights.


Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       It should not be analysed for differ-            having detailed employment information
       ent purposes. For example analysing              in a survey and using a specialist coder
       frequently called numbers in order to            to code a respondents industry into a
       offer personal discounts, or analysing           900 category industrial classification.
       flight destinations of frequent flyers to
       make special offers to them for flights          The one thing that is different to stand-
       to those locations.                              ard data coding is that it does need a
                                                        third party technical expert (the owner
       The real marketing value of this behav-          of the Geodemographic system) to
       ioural data can be extracted when it is          review the data and apply the code.
       combined with other data about customer          This eventuality is covered in the ESOMAR
       habits, attitudes or characteristics; in other   Notes on How to apply the ICC/ESOMAR
       words, when two independent personal             International Code on Market and Social
       data files are combined. This is frequently      Research:
       referred to as database enhancement.
                                                        Article 12 – Responsibility
       6.1. Database enhancement                        In order to meet the requirements of
       A simple example of database enhance-            the Code and of good business practice,
       ment is adding geodemographic coding             it is important for there to be contracts
       to a survey data file. The following guid-       or written agreements between the
       ance on procedure can be applied to any          researcher and the client and any other
       example of bringing together two personal        parties (e.g. self-employed interview-
       data files for the purpose of creating a         ers or subcontractors) setting out their
       more useful research database. Database          respective responsibilities.
       enhancement is carried out by reputable          Where elements of a research project
       research agencies in many countries.             are subcontracted it is essential that
       The process, if carried out correctly,           the researcher ensures in the contract
       involves no breach of confidentiality either     with the subcontractor that they and, in
       in the coding process or in the analysis         particular any interviewers, understand
       and use of the final anonymised data set.        and fully conform to the requirements
                                                        of the Code.
       Existing survey data is examined by a            The process for ensuring the confiden-
       coding expert and each respondent is             tiality of the personal survey data is to
       allocated to (in this example) one of 38         remove all personal data including the
       predefined codes. It is no different to          respondent’s name from the address


Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       data before passing it to the specialist       till roll data recorded against the loyalty
       coding organisation.                           card. For legitimate research analysis,
                                                      the process described for database
       Once the specialist coding is completed        enhancement should be followed.
       and returned to the research agency,
       the codes are added to the rest of the
       database and from there on handled             7. Retail tracking
       as anonymised data for analysis. No
       information about a specific individual is     RFID technology is currently being
       released outside the research company.         developed to help retailers and pro-
                                                      ducers with the logistics of getting
       If a respondent receives some form of          products to the right place at the right
       marketing approach as a result of analysis     time by tracking their whereabouts.
       of the survey data, they will receive it       There are no examples at the moment
       because they are part of some much             of the data being used for customer
       larger target group defined by survey          tracking or linking product whereabouts
       analysis. It will not be based on their        to identified individuals. This technology
       individual data as supplied in the survey.     will be monitored by ESOMAR and revi-
       This is the same for any survey carried        sions to this Guideline issued if needed.
       out to support marketing. A respondent
       who is representing a group of people
       with certain characteristics may receive       8. Physical monitoring
       marketing messages designed for that
       group of people.                               Neuromeasurement, the physical
                                                      monitoring of respondents using sen-
       It is essential for the research agency to     sors and devices such as EEG (Electro
       explain the relevant data protection issues    Encephylogram) or fMRI (Functional
       to the third party coder and they must sign    Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a
       a declaration that they will comply with the   growing area of consumer research.
       requirements of the ICC/ESOMAR Code            The key issue here is informed consent.
       and data protection legislation.               For both fMRI and EEG, the onus is on
       6.2. Loyalty cards                             the research agency or neuromarketing
       Companies frequently want to bring             company to explain fully the role and
       together loyalty card sign up informa-         use of the technology, both at recruit-
       tion of customer surveys with detailed         ment and prior to implementation. The


Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       model which should be used parallels         response to the environment we live
       that of qualitative research, and in         in and things that we see, hear, taste,
       particular the role and use of viewing       touch and smell.
       facilities, where filming and videoing
       has to be explained, client attendees        Eye-tracking equipment is increasingly
       behind a mirror need to be explained,        used with the EEG, where the consu-
       as well as the role, use and purpose of      mers not only wear the “scull cap” for EEG
       the project.                                 measurement, but they are also fitted with
                                                    a pair of glasses, which monitor frontal
       In neuro-experiments, the researcher/        and retinal eye movement. Again, the
       neuroscientist must fully explain to the     process of explanation is vital, but at the
       subject, in layman’s terms, the procedures   same time, must be kept simple.
       being used. With fMRI, this is much more
       invasive, in so much that the respondent     Researchers collecting psycho
       is in a laboratory environment, “being       physiological data (psi-phi) (fMRI, EEG,
       strapped to a gurney”, whilst the head is    electrocardiogram, skin conductance/
       immobilised before being placed inside a     resistance et al.) must have a clear
       very claustrophobic environment, prior       retention policy for the data. This
       to exposure to any stimulus. In short,       sort of data has significance beyond
       the experience is highly invasive, and       behavioral data as it can be used for
       unless explained properly in terms of the    medical purposes. With EEG and fMRI
       experiential procedure, could cause some     the data may reveal hidden diseases or
       degree of anxiety.                           conditions. It should be made clear to
                                                    the subjects that the MR Investigations
       The use of EEG is different; it is           have no diagnostic role and that the
       significantly easier to understand           researchers are not medically qualified
       as the equipment used is portable,           to interpret the clinical implications of
       lightweight and non-invasive; whilst         the data. The period for which data will
       the environment is more user friendly.       be retained should be explained to the
       The process as with fMRI is to explain       subject in case it needs to be reviewed
       simply the methodology, how the brain        by medical personnel.
       works and the fact that EEG measures
       changes in electrical activity within
       the brain, which happens with every
       thought, movement and action as a


Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       9. Further information
       Queries about implementing the Guide-
       line should be sent to the ESOMAR
       Professional Standards Committee,

       Helpful links
       The Ethical Standards of the American
       Psychological Association

       Project team
       Chair of Project Team: John O’Brien,
       consultant to the Professional Standards
       Laurent Battais, managing director
       Marketingscan, France
       Hy Mariampolski, managing director
       Qualidata Research, USA
       Max Kalehoff, ex Buzzmetrics, USA
       Peter Laybourne, chairman Neuroco,
       Ana Claudia Medeiros, consumer and
       market insight manager Unilever, UK
       Dan Foreman, director, Opinium
       Research, UK


Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

                                                                                   Eurocenter 2
                                                                       Barbara Strozzilaan 384
                                                                           1083 HN Amsterdam
                                                                                The Netherlands
                                                                            Tel +31 20 664 2141
                                                                          Fax +31 20 664 2922

Passive Data Collection, Observation and Recording

       ESOMAR is the world organisation for
       enabling better research into markets,
       consumers and societies.
       With 5000 members in over 100 countries,
       ESOMAR’s aim is to promote the value of
       market and opinion research in illuminating
       real issues and bringing about effective
       To facilitate this ongoing dialogue, ESOMAR
       creates and manages a comprehensive
       programme of industry-specific and thematic
       events, publications and communications,
       as well as actively advocating self-regulation
       and the worldwide code of practice.


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