Without a net – making business decisions from online panel data

Reg Baker
Market Strategies International, United States


After a decade of extraordinary growth, online research has now entered a period in which there are significant concerns about panel data quality and even about the validity of online as a research method. Concerns about the emergence of professional respondents, unknown levels of fraudulent qualifying for surveys, unacceptable levels of survey satisficing, and a handful of well-publicized instances in which online surveys failed to replicate either offline or other online results have combined to create a renewed focus on data quality (Baker, 2008). Clients increasingly seek assurances that the results we produce with online studies are reliable enough to use as the basis for important business decisions. The research industry has responded in two ways.