Why Face-to-Face Data Collection Still Matters

Following Ipsos MORI's win at the MRS Operations Awards 2019 in the Best FTF Data Collection category, Steve Bannister and Jeremy May explore the value of face-to-face data collection.

The author(s)

  • Jeremy May Operations
  • Steve Bannister Operations
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Ipsos MORI is a longstanding proponent of face-to-face data collection and the benefits it offers in the provision of high-quality insight.   

We believe that face-to-face interviewing will continue to play a significant role, particularly for surveys which require the use of high-quality random samples or with detailed and complex requirements.  For these reasons, we have steadfastly supported and reinforced our face-to-face capability, investing in the growth of our interviewing team with industry leading training and development, against a backdrop of clients asking us to adapt to ever more complex and niche survey requirements.  This is the reason we have become the UK’s largest supplier of face-to-face fieldwork, with capacity to deliver over 400,000 in-home interviews per year.

Our investment has paid off: we are the proud winners of the MRS Operations Awards 2019 in the Best FTF Data Collection category for our valuable work on the Troubled Families programme. Our commitment to building and maintaining a team of skilled interviewers put us in a strong position to deliver a robust evaluation of some of the country’s most vulnerable families, to assess the impact of intervention on the programme versus control groups. These families were often enduring distressing circumstances, and our approach relied on building relationships with key workers in the programme to facilitate contact in a safe environment to nurture trust between all parties. No other methodology could have succeeded to the same degree.

The traditional view of face-to-face interviewing has changed significantly over recent years, moving beyond straightforward interviews with a participant and, more routinely, now utilises non-standard data collection instruments in order to build complex datasets. We place diaries with participants to complete over the course of a week to measure radio listening; we recruit for the BARB panel to measure TV audiences for all programmes and we have recently guided participants through tasks such as downloading software applications onto personal devices for passive measurement studies.

We routinely interview participants from ethnic and other minority groups, and we have completed several sweeps of longitudinal studies - interviewing children and teenagers about their lives growing up, combining standard questions with body fat measurements, taking saliva samples, as well as  the administering of the Cambridge Gambling Task.

We see our face-to-face interviewers as being amongst our most important assets. Our highly-experienced team can overcome challenging survey requirements and help deliver insight to the most complex research questions. However, the world continues to change, and we are also looking to the future by developing mixed mode approaches which aim to combine the benefits of face-to-face data collection with other techniques in order to provide a flexible solution which best fits into the busy lives of our participants.

If you need reliable data that withstands academic scrutiny, or if you need to interview hard-to-reach or vulnerable groups that may only be approached with sensitivity and care, then contact us and gain access to a team of industry experts to discuss your needs.


Kelly Beaver, Managing Director of Public Affairs  Kelly.Beaver@ipsos.com

Neil Farrer, Managing Director of Audience Measurement  Neil.Farrer@ipsos.com

Lisa Hazelden, Managing Director of FTF Field  Lisa.Hazelden@ipsos.com


The author(s)

  • Jeremy May Operations
  • Steve Bannister Operations