• Rick White - Director of Client Services

Automated Translation in the Market Research Translation Process

Can you use an automated translation technology like Google Translate while translating content for the market research industry? Yes you can. - Depending on your objective. For market research companies that are running studies internationally it probably isn’t the best fit for translating your survey questionnaire, but it might be the perfect fit for translating your open ended responses back into English.


What does the market research industry need to translate?


One of the industries that we do a lot of work with is the market research industry. They are producing survey questionnaires and collecting responses, along with open-ended feedback that needs to be processed to be turned into reporting data for their end clients. Often those end clients are large multinational organizations (Apple, Microsoft, Nike) and they will want to collect from all of the markets they’re in globally. This is where we come in.


Translation of Survey Questionnaires - A Not So Great Fit for Automated Translation


Our market research client will send us a survey questionnaire to translate into all of the languages of the markets that they’re targeting. Survey questionnaires include items like “screening questions” and “demographic questions” which will likely need to be adapted, or localized as we would call it, to each one of the markets/languages they are targeting, otherwise there is a risk that the data can be impacted. - This is the golden rule of market research translation. Never mess with the data!


Beyond the screener and demographic questions are the survey questions themselves which have been carefully crafted by professional researchers to access and assess the data that the market research companies end clients are searching for. This again will need to be considered carefully during the translation process because a poorly crafted translation runs the risk of impacting or skewing the corresponding responses and data collection.


Since survey questionnaires require this type of attention, and also involve localization considerations, we don’t see this as the best fit for an automated translation solution. Based on our experience, this is definitely a place where human translation is still required, and likely will be for the foreseeable future. That doesn’t mean that we can’t leverage translation technology in the process for time and cost savings, it just means that we will still need a human translator to apply their translation skill to the process to end up with a translation that achieves the same goal as the English survey.


So if automated translation isn’t the best fit for survey responses, where might it fit in the market research translation process?


Translation of Survey Responses - A Great Fit for Automated Translation


Survey questionnaires typically include multiple choice questions and open ended responses. The open ended responses allow the survey respondent to provide additional detail which often represents itself as a multi word response to each open ended question asked. Many surveys will have multiple open ended questions and the parameters of the study could be set up to collect that feedback from several hundred survey respondents across each of the target markets. As you can imagine this can add up quickly, sometimes producing multiple thousands of responses that will then need to be translated back into English and then disseminated by the market research company so that it can be turned into reporting data for the end-client.


This mass of respondent data can provide a challenge to process both in terms of the cost and timing requirements to translate it all back into English. Speed is of the essence in translating market research content because the end client is always looking for their insights to be as fresh and in real time as possible so this has to be a consideration when addressing the challenge of handling response data. This is the perfect opportunity to look at incorporating automated translation.


If you were to take survey responses and put them directly through an automated translation solution like Google Translate you would get a mixed bag when it comes to the quality of the translation output. What you will get though is a high percentage of translation output that is of a high enough quality that a human translator can go through and “post-edit” the translations and gain efficiencies that make the application of automated translation pay off. This is where automated translation can really shine.


Without the nuances required in questionnaire translation, or the potential localization considerations, in our experience survey response translation (with human intervention), is a great place to leverage automated translation.


If you want to learn more about automated translation, translation technology, or anything else about the translation process please reach out to learn more. We’re always happy to talk translation!


More Market Research Translation Resources


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