Written by: Rick Wilson, Lab42 Director of Strategic Accounts
At the recent CASRO Online Panel Conference held in Las Vegas, there was a unique and interesting type of session: a panel of panelists. The participants, who represented a variety of online panels from large research companies, were selected through an online survey in which they were tested on their alertness and the validity of their responses. The top scorers were invited to join the conference’s panel.
Here’s what we learned from these typical panelists: among the eight people who represented online panelists, all of them stated that they belonged to at least four panels. Some were on as many as ten. Several participants also stated they habitually took the same survey several times to gain the rewards, even admitting to repeating one survey ten or more times. Their reasoning? That it was not their job to police the industry and they saw nothing wrong with this practice.
Although we already champion methods that require unique and genuine participants for our surveys, we were still shocked to learn about these practices. These concerns about the validity of the responses of traditional online panel members are quite serious.
Nowadays, we have access to a variety of online survey respondent tools that do not involve panel membership, but rather rely on individual survey participation. If this panel of panelists represents not only typical members but also those determined to be “alert, valid” panelists, then it seems prudent to at the very least use a blend traditional panelists and one-time survey respondents to gain valuable insights. In many cases, relying solely on social media “river” sources (a constant stream of fresh respondents) could present the most valid and non-biased answers to help clients with strategic marketing insights and findings.