Survey Fraud Detection: Build or Buy?

Choosing the right survey fraud and bot detection solution depends on your needs, in-house advantages, and vendor capabilities.

Blog image for build vs. buy blog post.
5/13/2024. Today, online surveys have become an essential tool to gather valuable insights and make data-driven decisions. However, the increasing prevalence of survey fraud and bot activity poses a significant threat to the data’s accuracy and reliability. To combat this issue, market research agencies and panels must choose between building an in-house solution or purchasing a third-party API like Roundtable. In this blog post, we’ll explore the advantages and challenges of each approach to help you make an informed decision.

Building an In-House Solution

- Flexibility and Customization: Developing an in-house survey fraud and bot detection system allows you to tailor the solution to your company’s specific needs and workflow. This level of customization ensures seamless integration with your existing processes. For example, if your agency primarily runs in-person or voice surveys, you may require a custom solution that differs from traditional online survey fraud detection software.
- Time and Cost: Creating an initial solution can be expensive and time-consuming. You may need to hire additional talent, which adds to the overall cost of development. The opportunity cost of not allocating these resources to other valuable business opportunities can be significant.
- Maintenance and Ongoing Development: New forms of fraud and bot activity emerge regularly, requiring continuous updates to the underlying algorithms. Maintaining an in-house solution demands ongoing development resources and expertise. Larger agencies and panels may need a dedicated full-time team to continually ward off fraud.

Purchasing a Third-Party API (like Roundtable)

- Rapid Deployment: Third-party APIs, such as Roundtable, can be set up in less than 30 minutes, delivering instant ROI. This is a significant advantage compared to the months it may take to develop an in-house solution.
- Expertise and Support: Survey fraud is a dynamic challenge that requires constant adaptation. A one-time solution or outdated research quality platform may not be as effective as Roundtable, which launches new functionality every few weeks to stay ahead of emerging threats.
- Limited Customization: While APIs like Roundtable are designed to be flexible and compatible with various software, there are limitations to the level of customization that can be accommodated. Some market research agencies use small, legacy survey platforms that can be challenging to integrate with general-purpose APIs.
- Limited Visibility and Control: When purchasing a third-party solution, buyers may have limited understanding of the proprietary algorithms used to detect fraud, which could be a concern for some companies.

What to Look for in a Vendor

When evaluating third-party vendors, consider the following key characteristics:
- Explainability: Many fraud detection platforms provide generic scores without detailed guidance on why a particular participant is flagged. Ensure that the platform you choose unpacks the black box to some extent, providing you with the information needed to make informed decisions.
- Speed and Scalability: Fraud detection is an ongoing battle. Choose a vendor that consistently ships updates and provides guidance in response to new threats.
- Versatility: Different users within your organization, such as the Chief Operating Officer, developers, or project managers, will interact with the survey fraud platform. Ensure that the software you select can adapt to the varying needs and roles within your company.
Deciding between building an in-house survey fraud and bot detection system or purchasing a third-party API ultimately depends on your company’s specific requirements, available resources, and priorities. While an in-house solution offers flexibility and customization, it comes with significant time, cost, and resource challenges. Conversely, third-party APIs like Roundtable provide expertise, scalability, and rapid deployment, making them an attractive option for businesses looking to protect their survey data quickly and effectively. By carefully evaluating your needs and the capabilities of potential vendors, you can make an informed decision that best serves your market research agency or panel.