The market research landscape is constantly evolving. Just 15 years ago, telephone surveys were among the gold standards of research, and online research was in its infancy. The ways people communicate, consume entertainment and information, as well as the way brands engage consumers are changing rapidly. According to recent research by PEW, 85% of US adult population is internet users and 65% uses social media, while only 60% of the population has a landline phone.

As people spend an increasing amount of time engaging online, through social media and apps, it was only a matter of time before companies would develop ways to engage consumers where they are naturally spending their time.  As a result, Lab42 has developed a unique platform to collect sample sourced through partnerships with social media networks, e-retailers, games, and applications, providing an attractive alternative to traditional sample panel providers.

In this blog, we will outline how the Lab42 sample is collected, how we validate it, the benefits of using our sample, as well as similarities and differences between the Lab42 sample, panel sample and river sample.


Our sample is sourced through numerous partnerships with social media networks, e-retailers, and online and mobile games and applications. Respondents opt in to participate while they are naturally engaging online by choosing one of our offers that is available. In exchange for completing a Lab42 survey, respondents receive virtual currency, points and/or credits relevant to their current online activity. 


Once potential respondents opt-in, and before getting access to any survey, they must complete a 2-step pre-screening and verification process:

  • Connect to Lab42 using Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram accounts. This allows us to validate that they are real, and capture basic demographic information.
  • Complete a detailed profile questionnaire, which contains demographic, geographic and psychographic criteria. This allows us to route respondents to the appropriate surveys.

Once respondents are sent to the survey that is most applicable to them, the demographic information collected during pre-screening is verified vs. demographic screening in the survey.  If responses do not match, those respondents are eliminated. A couple of other steps are also in place to guarantee the validity of the data: de-dup process using IP addresses and daily manual data quality checks. These manual data quality checks ensure that every respondent answering your survey is leaving quality responses – and you never have to pay for any deleted respondents either.


  1. Reduced self-selection bias: Because we source sample from a wide and diverse list of partners, self-selection bias is reduced;
  2. Wide reach: Anybody who can access the internet is a potential respondent;
  3. Fresh sample: Our wide reach allows us access to millions of potential survey takers, minimizing the risk of getting professional survey takers;
  4. Real people: Because potential respondents have to connect with us through their Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram accounts, we know we are reaching real people;
  5. Representative: Our sample demographics closely aligns with that of the United States Census;
  6. Targeting: Through our partnerships with networks, e-retailers, games and applications that extend across many different demographic groups, we can access many hard to reach groups;
  7. Efficient collection: By utilizing the demographic information potential respondents have to provide, we can route surveys to only those respondents that are likely to qualify for a given survey;
  8. Faster and more affordable: Since our methodology provides access to such a wide reach of potential survey takers, it drives down cost per complete and surveys get completed faster, considerably shortening turnaround time.

Demographics of Lab42’s Sample


Research on Research” conducted by Lab42 indicates that Lab42 sample can be used in place of more traditional panel subjects without sacrificing research accuracy or validity.

Similarities with traditional panel providers

  • In the majority of cases the answers from the Lab42 sample and the panel sample were virtually identical, and in almost all cases, the order rankings were identical, indicating the two samples are attitudinally and behaviorally comparable.
  • In addition, social media and technology use was identical; purchasing data for both electronics and groceries, and media consumption likewise provided similar patterns. The survey also found that the differences in attitudes and beliefs across a wide variety of topics showed negligible differences.

Differences with traditional panel providers

  • Fewer professional survey takers: Traditional panel provider respondents are more frequent survey takers than Lab42 respondents.
  • Younger reach: Lab42 has a much better reach among younger generations (Millennials, Generation Z) and older respondents (55 plus) and can fill surveys faster than traditional panel sample providers.
  • More informed through social media: Lab42’s sample is more inclined to get information on current events from social media than the traditional panel providers and is more likely to watch cable TV than traditional sample providers’ sample.


Similarities with river sample:

  • Similar to River Sampling, the Lab42 sample is collected online and potential respondents opt-in.  In addition, due to the large amount of potential responses, there is wide reach, which makes both methods affordable.

Differences with river sample:

  • Recruitment method prevents self-selection: Unlike river sampling, Lab42 does not recruit respondents through banner or pop-up advertisements, nor from sites that are specifically selected for recruitment for a given survey audience. Instead, Lab42 uses the same wide reaching partners regardless of the survey.  As a result, self-selection bias is greatly reduced.
  • Information retention: Certain demographic information is kept on file and used to 1) route respondents to surveys that are applicable to them and 2) double validate that respondents are real and have not participated in any survey recently.


Understandably, people are still somewhat leery about using a new market research methodology. But as with all industries, the market research industry must evolve to suit the changing landscape. Our “Research on Research” survey results indicate that despite the differences in respondent recruitment, Lab42’s social media sample can be used in place of more traditional online-based panels without sacrificing research accuracy or validity. Key business decisions reached through the Lab42 methodology would remain the same but require a lower investment from researchers.

Lab42’s panel sourcing also provides significant additional value for brands in consumer electronics, apparel and gaming. This higher category engagement, combined with a better reach for Generation Y, and speed in recruiting this “new” consumer indicates the methodology can be seen as future-proof; ideally suited to tactical custom research projects that require a short turnaround and a smaller budget.


Interested in reading more about how Lab42’s sample compares to traditional panel sample? Download our white paper by entering your information below, or check out our infographic comparing the sample sources.

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