We’ve discussed online panels often in the past. Overall, they’re an interesting way to gather data, and while they’re far from perfect, they do provide you with a quick and easy way to track changes in customers’ thoughts and behaviors over time – a way that allows you to compare and contrast against an identical sample.
Often to find your panel you need to work with a company that specializes in creating them. You depend on these companies a great deal in order to ensure that your work is completed correctly. Unfortunately, a lot of these panels have very sketchy research practices that may drastically interfere with your ability to gather data. Below are just some examples of what you may find with some panel companies.
Some Example Problems with Online Panel Companies
Many panel companies do anything they can to make a quick buck. So they pepper their screens, your emails, and your surveys with advertisements. It’s well known in the survey research world that anything superfluous on a page can interfere with your ability to collect accurate data, and these advertisements may affect your results. In addition, you are paying them already for their services, and the advertisements are taking advantage of your payments.
- Survey Spamming
We’ve already talked about the issues that some panel members have, where they sign up to become a panel member to too many surveys and are ultimately completing several surveys a day. Well, some panel companies do this too; entering panel members into dozens of surveys every month and causing a survey burnout that will affect your data.
- Closed Surveys
Many panel companies recklessly close and open surveys as well. If the panel member doesn’t respond right away, the survey can be closed before anyone else in the panel has a chance to respond, thus creating some serious biases in the data and causing you to suffer from an unintentional survey dropout.
All of this excludes some of the other rumors about some panel companies, claiming that they may even be altering your questions or adding their own – something that essentially makes your data useless. Panel companies are not often kept to as high standards as they should be, and many take advantage of this lack of oversight to earn more money. Overall, you have to be very careful about the panel companies you choose, and don’t be afraid to test them out yourself or read thorough reviews before you select one.