We need to judge the fitness of these panels

Your report on online market research (MW last week) gave a generally balanced view of the issues. It did not, however, identify one major concern – one that is widely overlooked when the merits and shortcomings of online surveys are debated.

Almost all online research is conducted using so-called “panels” of respondents. In contrast to what happens in most “conventional” research, these individuals effectively opt in, even though the better controlled panels seek to obtain their members from a variety of sources. It’s true you can balance the panel by various demographic characteristics, but only within the self-selecting group you start with.

Thus there are two stages of possible bias in the samples selected using online panels – the first due to the fact that perhaps only 60 per cent of people have internet access; and the possibly much greater one caused by the fact that only a small proportion of this 60 per cent are contactable by being members of a panel (or, in some cases, several panels!). We need to know much more about the extent of this second bias and how operators deal with it.

Given that online panels are certain to increase in importance, research users should be encouraged to challenge operators to demonstrate how they set about minimising the effects of this problem.

Roger Gane

Research director

RSMB Audience Research

London WC2

Recommended

Whirlpool buys Maytag

Marketing Week

Whirlpool, the white goods company, has bought rival company Maytag for $1.7bn (&£943m) following a bidding war against private equity company Ripplewood. Maytag had agreed a deal with Ripplewood and has been forced to pay $40m (&£22m) to terminate the deal.

Lovefilm launches online game rental

Marketing Week

Lovefilm.com is launching an online games rental service tomorrow (Thursday), offering subscribers the latest PlayStation 2 chart titles alongside the nearly 30,000 DVD titles in its catalogue. The online DVD rental company, which is locked in a battle for market leadership with ScreenSelect, claims it is the first company to offer online game rentals in […]

Ipoints signs up five new partners

Marketing Week

Ipoints, the UK internet rewards scheme, has signed up five new partners: CD retailer 101cd.com, online florist bunches.co.uk, gift site Prezzybox.com, books e-tailer countrybookstore.co.uk and jewellery.tv. Each company will offer customers ipoints as rewards.

Comments

    Leave a comment