Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Why do some panel sources cost more than others?

I've addressed the issue of panels and panel providers before. But I cannot emphasize enough that you should check and understand what type of online sample you're purchasing for your online survey. Online Access Panels from companies like SSI, GMI, ToLuna, CIAO/Greenfield, but especially also from niche market panel providers vary greatly in quality and this affects price. You should screen the panel sources you use and check them to see if they meet your minimum expectations of panel quality.
  • Non marketing panel – so you avoid education effects from advertising campaigns influencing the results of research
  • Diversely recruited panel – that sourced respondents are derived from a lot of different locations and in different ways to ensure an attitudinal spread in the panel population
  • No excessively high rewards – as this tends to result in panellists that are money/discount sensitive, which in turn can affect their research responses
  • Actively seek to exclude professional respondents – both through their recruiting (not using professional respondent sites) and through active management (screening and deleting straight lining respondents)
  • Well managed to avoid sampling biases – regularly cleaned and scrubbed to remove non active panellists, consistently updated and profiled, panellists are not over-used, sample eliminations are available to avoid education effects from past research participation

As a general rule panels that include a combination of online and offline recruiting are more costly to develop and tend to attract a premium price in the market. This is because they minimise the biases associated with online recruiting alone.

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