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So, I'm confused. I can see that people clicking through AdWords allows you to gauge interest. But having failed to find what they were actually looking for, people actually stick around and fill surveys about it? Really? There must be a giant selection effect in who decides to actually go through with it. I can imagine it ending up being quite misleading.

If it's presented as "We're building this product - tell us what you want it for" it would tend to select the people who are really keen. That's the kind you want to start with - but you're right, it is a subset, probably a very small one. So maybe this is better for operationally getting started, rather than measuring market size.

A related idea is to build less of the product, eg. the backend is run manually (ie. you are the backend). I like this one better, because it seems dishonest to me to say "buy our great app!" and then not have it. But I guess you can word it as a request for interest, like the HospitalVille example.

Question: has Zyngna actually been successful with this technique? (I've only heard of Farmville).

Tim Ferris describes a similar idea in the Four-Hour Work Week, only a little more underhandedly - he has them fill in the order form, click the link as if to proceed to the payment page, only to present them with a page saying "Sorry, due to unexpected demand, we can't take your order right now." The customer believes that they are actually buying something, when they're actually just filling in a survey.

Like I say, it's underhanded, but at least you can have a little more faith in the results.

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