Poli is a startup focused on using messaging platforms to improve opinion polling.

This blog will feature different members of the company (and guests too) writing about politics, polling and tech startups. This first post is a brief introduction to the problem we are trying to solve.

The current political turmoil we are in has made polling more difficult as traditional party loyalties have broken down. Technological and behavioural change has exacerbated the problem. The political journalist Martin Kettle sums it up nicely:

"Knocking on doors no longer works. Nor does stopping people in the street. Landlines are less common. Subscribers dislike cold calls. There is no register of mobile phone numbers. And although online polling is cheaper, faster and more direct than old methods, it necessitates large corrections to weight the sample accurately. In addition, not everyone tells the truth."

The models that political pollsters use to measure public opinion have been increasingly exposed as anachronistic with several well publicised failures over the last couple of years. An inquiry by the British Polling Council into the failure to predict the Conservative win in the 2015 General Election concluded that “the primary cause of the polling miss was unrepresentative samples.”

At Poli (pronounced Polly) we are looking to address this sampling problem and have spent the last 18 months building an opinion polling platform from scratch that leverages the reach and penetration of messaging apps to improve the way surveys are conducted. Starting with Facebook Messenger, our panels are larger and, as we will soon demonstrate, more representative. We will also engage with our panels more efficiently than other polling companies.

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Our ambition is to marry the needs of our users and our clients.

  • Clients need to rely on accurate polling data
  • Users want to know where they fit into the ever-changing spectrum of public opinion

For more on our methodology see this post from Laurence Janta-Lipinski, our Head of Research. Laurence has spent the last decade embedded in the UK polling industry. The rest of the team have a track record building innovative and disruptive digital products. Our previous startup in the TV audience measurement space was acquired by Twitter in 2014.

Our heavy emphasis on privacy and anonymity plus more detail on the high ethical standards we hold ourselves to will be the subject of our next post.

We will shortly start publishing polls using a representative sample of British adults made up from UK Facebook Messenger users. Other platforms are in development.

This blog will document our successes and failures. Enjoy!