Online and social media campaigns reach billions of people every day. While commercial companies have built up extensive expertise in using these tools to recruit and build relationships with customers, researchers and policymakers have been slower to take full advantage of these new digital tools. The growth of mobile access in developing countries is opening up many opportunities to use social media tools to pursue development objectives: from surveys and impact evaluations to digital delivery of behavior-change campaigns.
Virtual Lab is an open-source set of tools developed by the World Bankʼs Development Impact Department (DIME) for online recruitment, intervention, and surveying via digital advertising and social-media platforms. It was built specifically for researchers and policymakers. It can be used to perform impact evaluations, inform the targeting of large-scale digital ad campaigns, collect and visualize cross-sectional survey data in real time, or build high-frequency longitudinal panel surveys.