Podcast: Vignesh Krishnan of Research Defender on Fighting Fraud

Fraud is prevalent across many industries. How do we best fight it in the market research space? We chat with Vignesh Krishnan of Research Defender on this episode of our "Now That's Significant" podcast.

This week, we welcomed Vignesh Krishnan, the Founder and CEO of Research Defender to the podcast. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering, a master’s degree in business administration and technology management which reflects his passion about the intersection of business and technology. Previously serving in multiple leadership positions at Lucid such as Vice President of Product and Chief of Staff, Research Defender is Vignesh’s first foray into launching a startup. An avid traveler, Vignesh loves to experience new countries and cultures. While he and his wife live in New Orleans, he has lived on three continents, visited three more and someday hopes to sail to Antarctica to round out the full collection.

Vignesh began by talking about the ongoing problem of fraud across all industries and how he's seen compromised data issues continue to rise during his 12+ years in the market research space.  As fraud continues to get more sophisticated, more sophisticated tools are needed to catch it. This was the impetus for founding Research Defender about three and a half years ago, with a focus on creating advanced ways to to manage and control fraud - positively impacting data quality. "Fraud keeps challenging us, and we keep challenging fraud." 

He covers some of the best practices to elevate data quality, and encouraged companies to employ a consistent program that includes all the basics, such as digital fingerprinting, tracking blacklists and similar techniques, as well as more advanced practices. He says companies need to make an investment in technology and human expertise and that a comprehensive data quality program is essential for long-term success. There is no 100% solution, but fraud can be managed with consistent methods.

Privacy acts and regulations have to be taken into consideration in the fraud mitigation landscape, which in part encompasses respectfully letting people know that you are collecting data about them. This means working closely together along the whole market research chain to ensure compliance and that the same language is being used across the ecosystem. 

He touches on the buyer's role in data quality, including engaging and enhancing the respondent's experience to improve overall data. Engaging survey respondents is critical for data quality. Creating user-friendly survey design, providing proper incentives and rewards for respondents, and setting expectations up-front for respondents before they enter a survey are just a few of the things buyers should be doing. He said on the supply side, there is a bit more control - depending on what their business model looks like. Those with one-to-one relationships with respondents must do all the basic mitigation techniques, at least, and more traditional suppliers like panel companies can do even more using double opt-in, tracking historic survey completion behaviors and more.  

After a short discussion about pricing, Vignesh dives more into details around the subtleties of fraud, such as false positive or negatives. He reiterates the importance of using multiple approaches to fraud mitigation to impact data quality - quick checks (which he likens to the COVID home antigen test) can catch some but a more comprehensive approach (like a COVID PCR test) will yield better results. We went on to discuss fraud in video tracking, neuroscience and more niche research segments, and how there are some common denominators across data collection that can be combatted with best practices. 

When you get fraud mitigation right, better quality outcomes are the reward. 

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