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Non-Traditional Panel Sourcing

written by Ed Carroll

Over the past few years, sample companies have been slowly calibrating their non-traditional panel sourcing strategies… The big questions I have been receiving on this topic revolve around a very simple question: Why?

  1. Do people not want to join traditional panels anymore?
  2. Are traditional panels more expensive to manage than non-traditional panel sources? (this is a popular preconceived notion from the days when  providers introduced “River” sample)
  3. Is it a representation issue?
  4. How can I feel comfortable that if you do move to non-traditional panel sources, my sample will remain consistent? (more held over concerns from the “River” days)

At the end of the day… all great questions and how your sample provider answers them, in my opinion, is critical.

In an effort to be transparent and honest, I have provided answers to the questions above from SSI’s perspective.

*I have definitely been accused of being a little too transparent in the past, but in my opinion, I feel it is important. No one becomes successful off one job in this business… long term relationships are paramount

1. Do people not want to join traditional panels anymore?

Some do, some don’t. Since 1999 when online panels became big in the market, there have been a lot of new “interactive” options introduced in the online space. Surveys once were one of the only interactive activities out there. Naturally, since more options have been introduced, the amount of people willing to join traditional panel environments has shrunk. As we all know, depending on the target audience, this can really be an issue.

2. Are traditional panels more expensive to manage than non-traditional panel sources and are sample companies just doing this for their own benefit?

No, in fact… in most situations having non-traditional panel sources is more expensive than managing traditional panels. Of course, this will vary depending upon a company’s business model… but for the most part, non-traditional panel sources are more costly to a sample company.

3. Is it a representation issue?

Yes, definitely. Respondent descriptors must go beyond traditional “demographic and geographic” information in this day and age. The importance of balancing on “types” or “personality traits” is incredibly important to ensure proper representation across a defined target or geography. Reaching out to non-traditional panel sources is the only way to achieve this type of balance.

4. How can I feel comfortable that if you do move to non-traditional panel sources, my sample will remain consistent? (more held over concerns from the “River” days)

In my opinion, this is the most important question of them all. Knowing that communication continues to evolve in the online space, the companies that have a combination of sophisticated technology and a sound methodology for creating source blends will be the strongest long term partners. People change, trends shift and new types of communication emerge… it is exciting and what makes our world fun. Having a solution in place that will allow you to embrace the change, leverage new communication channels while ensuring quality is the key to consistent, reliable… relevant data.

Are these the types of questions you are getting from your clients?

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Categories: Demographics Market Research Market Research Industry Trends Offline Sampling Online Sampling Panel Quality Sampling

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