What a lot of forum owners don't realise is the value of the marketing potential of that community to related commercial organisations.
If sold properly to the right people, there is significant money to be made if you have a large enough community.
Larger companies tend to spend a lot of money on marketing.
For example, movie studios will be interested in knowing what the members of a DVD forum think about 3D movies on disc, and will potentially pay a lot of money for the ability to have your community answer surveys.
If you have a motoring forum then your sales team will be able to approach the manufacturers to sell surveys on your communities opinion re motor vehicle features and functions. Satisfaction surveys etc.
LG have their own forum on AVForums and they paid for a modification to the vBSurvey plugin to allow the surveys to run within posts. So there definitely is a demand.
Polls are good for simple information gathering and we have run some polls to help our sales team present useful information to advertisers. E.g. what % of our members own Wiis or intend to purchase soon.
But proper surveys with branching and different question types, integrated into threads/posts would offer a new revenue stream for larger forums and anything which gets revenue from non banner advertising related activity is very welcome.
There is also the advantage of internal information gathering with surveys. What do members like about your forum, how would they like certain features to be improved etc. What are their interests (prompting the addition or removal of certain forums). You get the idea.
So can we have proper surveys please?