TL;DR: Starting on the week of September 25th, we will be showing a short survey in the banner ad slots on Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange tech sites.

What is this survey about?

The survey is meant to provide better insight for customers into how users' sentiment towards the company or its products and services are affected by advertising on the Stack Exchange network. It is an optional survey, in which we'll ask some users questions about a company so we can test and measure whether their ads have had any impact on the user's perception of that brand. Not all users who see an ad will be served the survey, and we only survey users that are opted-in to targeting cookies. Responses are completely anonymous and no personal information from the respondents will be collected or stored.

Where will it be shown, and what does it look like?

We explored a few different options for conducting the survey, and ended up deciding to use the existing banner ad slots for these — meaning you'll see the ads and the banner in the same placement (though not at the same time, just to clarify). This seemed like the simplest and less disruptive solution because it uses an existing placement that users already are accustomed to for ads, and also allows us to conduct the survey on-site without needing to prompt the user to fill it in on a third-party website. Here's what it'll look like (click to see full-sized version):

Question page showing the survey in the banner ad slot, as described in the post. The survey asks the question "Which brands have you seen advertising for recently?" and provides a list of 5 companies plus a "none of these" option.

What sites will this be shown on?

This survey will be shown on the following 61 sites:

  • Stack Overflow
  • 3D Printing
  • Arduino
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Ask Different
  • Ask Ubuntu
  • Bitcoin
  • Blender
  • CiviCRM
  • Code Review
  • Computational Science
  • Computer Graphics
  • Computer Science Educators
  • Computer Science
  • Craft CMS
  • Data Science
  • Database Administrators
  • DevOps
  • Drupal Answers
  • elementary OS
  • Emacs
  • EOS.IO
  • Ethereum
  • ExpressionEngine® Answers
  • Game Development
  • Graphic Design
  • Hardware Recommendations
  • Information Security
  • Internet of Things
  • Iota
  • Joomla
  • Magento
  • Monero
  • Network Engineering
  • Open Data
  • Open Source
  • Programming Puzzles & Code Golf
  • Quantum Computing
  • Raspberry Pi
  • Retrocomputing
  • Robotics
  • Server Fault
  • SharePoint
  • Signal Processing
  • Sitecore
  • Software Engineering
  • Software Quality Assurance & Testing
  • Software Recommendations
  • Stellar
  • Super User
  • TeX - LaTeX
  • Tezos
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Tor
  • Tridion
  • Unix & Linux
  • User Experience
  • Vi and Vim
  • Web Applications
  • Webmasters
  • WordPress Development

Why are you telling us about this? Isn't this just an ad in the usual ad placement anyway?

This survey is both a new onsite survey, and a new usage of the banner ad slot. Since the conjunction of those two factors could lead to some confusion, we thought it would be better to let folks know that we were doing it in advance.

The new survey will be going through this alpha test, which will help inform our product decisions in the future, as well as let us work out any bugs or technical issues. We will let you know about next steps for this feature by updating this post or posting a new question for it.

If you see things breaking, please report those in the usual channels, or as an answer to this post.

  • 1
    "onsite survey" interesting! Sep 19 at 17:35
  • 11
    Random question... Why is this being tested only on tech sites? Why not non-tech sites? Sep 19 at 17:36
  • 16
    Will users with the Reduce ads privilege see this? It's in a slot usually hidden to them
    – Erik A
    Sep 19 at 17:46
  • 6
    Are you sure this is a good idea? Online advertising is commonly suspected to be next-to-worthless in most cases, but there's little hard data on that; collecting data on this is honest and very laudable, but it could cost you a substantial chunk of your advertising income.
    – wizzwizz4
    Sep 19 at 18:20
  • 3
    I generally hate the idea of surveys in ad slots, but if the purpose of the survey is literally to question users about the ads.. it's the right place for it... as opposed to the pulse surveys that are generally used as community feedback but only presented through ad slots.
    – Kevin B
    Sep 19 at 19:28
  • 4
    @RandomPerson That’s where most advertisers we want to test with have ads.
    – JNat StaffMod
    Sep 20 at 8:20
  • 13
    @ErikA users with the reduced ads privilege will not see this. As you mentioned, the slot is usually not visible to them anyway. This means they wouldn't be able to see the ad both because... well, the slot is not visible; but also because we're only showing the survey to folks who've seen certain ads, and those users wouldn't see any ads at all.
    – JNat StaffMod
    Sep 20 at 8:21
  • 4
    Appreciate the concern, @wizzwizz4, but the team did do their own research, and in fact found that many companies find benefit from surveys like these; so testing that hypothesis is the aim of the test.
    – JNat StaffMod
    Sep 20 at 8:23
  • 5
    Thank you for warning about this before implementation. I recommend keeping this Q pinned in the Featured box for the duration of the test. "Click here to take a survey" is the kind of thing you see as clickbait to trick people into clicking malicious ads. Lots of people would mentally filter this out if you hadn't let us know it was happening and genuine.
    – bta
    2 days ago
  • 2
    If you've been on the Internet for a while, your brain is wired to not interact with anything that looks like a banner ad, and it goes double for banner ads that have what looks like interactable elements (checkboxes, buttons, minigames). I doubt you'll get much engagement out of it. yesterday


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