According to Lucid, programmatic sampling now accounts for 94% of all transactions sold on the Fulcrum Exchange, one of the industry’s largest sampling exchanges. That statistic is staggering because this sampling technology emerged just 3-5 years ago. The unprecedented road that Lucid is traveling is so promising that they’ve recently raised a $60 million round of funding to continue their efforts to revolutionize the future of the sample industry.

As a researcher focused on multicultural consumers in the U.S., my first thought is, how does programmatic sampling affect multicultural sample? But before we get into the implications of that, let’s demystify the concept of the practice.

What is programmatic sampling?

Programmatic is a term pulled from the AdTech world in which digital advertising is purchased on a platform with presets. There is no middleman. Programmatic sampling is the ability to buy sample in a similar fashion. No middleman. Providers have the ability to program their targets, quotas, field times, and potentially more with customized APIs integrated directly into panels.

With programmatic sample, you can say goodbye to waking up in the middle of the night to check quotas. With this new sampling technology, you can set it and forget it. And perhaps even get better results.

How does programmatic impact multicultural sampling?

While this has been a game changer for the sample industry in general, it has been a true paradigm shift in multicultural sample for three reasons:

Complex quotas can be executed more easily.

We all deal with a variety of nested and unnested quotas. But multicultural sample can be an inception style (quotas within quotas within quotas) maze of quotas. For example, to create a representative sample of U.S. Hispanics, you must get country of origin percentages to match with Census numbers and that means over 20 counties of origin alone. That is not factoring in traditional quotas like language and acculturation.

With the advent of programmatic sampling, more specifically APIs tied to multicultural panels, the efficiency of managing these quotas and the accuracy of filling them timely has skyrocketed. Programmatic has enabled multicultural researchers to be more precise in the execution of sample plans.  Research projects can be delivered in a more timely manner without compromising quality.

Providers have increased access to Multicultural sample.

In the early days of specialized multicultural sample, those looking for specific ethnic cohorts such as Asian, Hispanic, or African-American sample were relegated to few panels. This was advantageous for those of us in the multicultural sample business. But for those who relied upon one or two providers to fulfill these requests, not so much.

New programmatic sample platforms enable providers to get more value out of scarce resources. When combining the short supply of the multicultural panels of many panels (upwards of 300+), we can build more robust multicultural sample frames.

But, programmatic not only has implications on those in the market for sample, but for those selling it as well. Panels continue to integrate their sample on platforms such as Cint and Fulcrum. Researchers can tap into multicultural sample across a broad spectrum of panel providers, providing access to more multicultural consumers. This expanded reach enables them to deliver more accurate base sizes to their clients.

Generates a higher quality Multicultural sample.

The shift to programmatic sampling has made life a little easier for marketers. It has also significantly improved the quality of multicultural sample. Sample providers can now share panel best practices. As we learn, the quality of sample for the entire industry improves. With increased quality comes better results. Better results yield more investment in multicultural research and marketing – a win-win for us all.

The potential backlash of programmatic sampling

While I clearly see the development of programmatic sampling capabilities as a net positive for the multicultural sample sector, it does come with some potential drawbacks. It is possible to see a decrease in companies spending money specifically on multicultural panels. Now, they can tap into the power of many panels and create samples as opposed to creating one panel dedicated to a specific group.

This lack of specificity has the potential to skew results from multicultural respondents sourced from general market panels as they could be reflective of a certain acculturation level or comfort with English. The potential pitfalls aside, programmatic sampling is an exciting development for the multicultural sampling industry. I look forward to seeing companies create tools that allow for further refinement of multicultural sampling techniques and technologies.